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Live From New York

November 2008

By Published: November 8, 2008
In a daringly innovative take on the jazz repertory concept, Jason Moran presented a multimedia program at the Harlem Stage Gatehouse (Oct. 2nd) in which the inventive young pianist revisited music from Thelonious Monk's celebrated 1959 Town Hall concert. Billed alternately as "Moran on Monk" and "In My Mind," the evening featured an opening discussion with trombonist/educator George Lewis, visual artist Glenn Ligon (whose works were projected behind the band during the concert) and then Moran, who explained his creative process in putting together the multifaceted concert. Abandoning the often fruitless process of entirely faithful reproduction, Moran and his band, featuring his regular trio with bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits, augmented by the trumpet of Ralph Alessi and alto sax of Logan Richardson, offered their own take on the music, modulating between reportorial recreation and 21st Century revitalization. Video excerpts by David Demplewolf surveying the plantation land of Monk's slave grandparents were mixed with views of New York past and present and photos from the Town Hall concert. The recorded sound of Monk playing, discussing arrangements and tap dancing were interpolated with the group's playing, which began with Moran's interpretation of "Thelonious" while wearing headphones listening to Monk and continued with new arrangements of the music heard at Town Hall nearly 50 years ago.

Jazz for Obama | Full Coverage

More than two dozen of the greatest artists of the day joined forces in a Jazz For Obama fundraising concert at the 92nd Street Y (Oct. 1st) that will surely go down in the annals of jazz as one of the greatest events in the history of the music. Players and singers, young and old, male and female, black and white, came together to make music, often with a message, played with a sense of urgency and fervor befitting the evening's political purpose. The sounds began with Roy Haynes leading a fiery all-star quintet featuring Roy Hargrove, Joe Lovano, Christian McBride and pianist Aaron Goldberg (the benefit's producer) in a powerful reading of McCoy Tyner's "Passion Dance," setting the tone for what would be no ordinary night. Emceed by vocalist Kurt Elling, the well-paced program delivered climax after climax for a crowd of 750 vocally appreciative listeners who contributed over $60,000 to the cause. High points included a blistering version of Monk's "I Mean You" by vibraphonist Stefon Harris' quartet with Goldberg, Derrick Hodge and Jeff "Tain" Watts, a dynamic duet on "Alone Together" by Hank Jones with Lovano and a beautiful "Besame Mucho" by Brad Mehldau. Dianne Reeves, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Roberta Gambarini and Elling testified to the healthy state of vocal jazz in individual performances and on a grand finale of "Straight No Chaser" that brought Stanley Jordan and Mehldau out from backstage and Steve Turre from the audience to bring the enthusiastic house down.

—Russ Musto

Recommended New Listening:

* Adam Birnbaum—Travels (Smalls)

* Bill Cantrall—Axiom (Upswing)

* Todd Coolman—Perfect Strangers (ArtistShare)

* Rob Mosher's Storytime—The Tortoise (Old Mill)

* Paul Motian Trio 2000 + Two—Live at the Village Vanguard Vol. II (Winter & Winter)

* Bebo Valdes Javier Colina—Live at the Village Vanguard (Calle 54)

—David Adler NY@Night Columnist,

* The Antripodean Collective—Funcall (Extreme)

* Blue Notes—The Ogun Collection (Ogun)

* John Escreet—Consequences (Positone)

* Andrew Hill/Chico Hamilton—Dreams Come True (Joyous Shout!)

* Rebecca Kilgore/Dave Frishberg—Why Fight The Feeling?: Songs by Frank Loesser (Arbors)

* John Santos Quintet—Perspectiva Fragmentada (Machete)

—Laurence Donohue-Greene Managing Editor, AllAboutJazz-New York

* Tine Asmundsen/Richard Davis/Vidar Johansen/Robert Shy—Madison (Hazel Jazz)

* Atomic School Days—Distil (Okkadisk)

* Circulasione Totale Orchestra—Open Port (Circulasione Totale)

* Mats Gustafsson—The Vilnius Explosion (NoBusiness)

* Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky/Michael Griener—The Salmon (Intakt)

* Simulacra—Eponymous (Evander)

—Andrey Henkin Editorial Director, AllAboutJazz-New York

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