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Live From New York

February 2009

By Published: February 7, 2009
One of the brightest stars to rise from Chicago's Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) in years, Nicole Mitchell brought New Year wishes to New York over two nights at The Stone. Dubbing the effort "Sonic Projections," Mitchell composed separate sets of music for the occasion, played by fellow Chicagoan David Boykins on sax and drummer Tomas Fujiwara, with pianist Vijay Iyer on the first night and guitarist Mary Halvorson the second. In true Chicago form, it was horns (Boykins' saxophone and Mitchell's flute) out front most of the time. And in line with AACM tradition, the music worked with unabashedly beautiful, simple melodies and overt messages of hope and optimism, the composition "Affirmation" (the only piece repeated both nights) even incorporating wishes for the coming year written by audience members. At the same time, the music pushed harder than much of Mitchell's previous work, giving ample room for Boykins' gutsy tenor, especially in a prolonged and powerful duet with Fujiwara. Mitchell is extraordinarily inventive on her instrument, matching the power of the sax on the wee piccolo and singing through her flute with slurring pitches reminiscent of a vintage synthesizer. While the set with Iyer contained some wonderfully pointillistic moments, it was with Halvorson that Mitchell seemed to open the throttle with enticingly slippery, fragmented scores.

—Kurt Gottschalk

Mario Pavone
Mario Pavone
Mario Pavone
b.1940
bass

Mario Pavone

Iridium

New York City

January 7, 2009

There are few musicians better-suited to be bandleaders than bassists. As sidemen, they are expected to keep things in order anyway, and the nature of their instrument precludes egotistical solo-driven composing. Mingus is the archetype but Mario Pavone has been steadily creating his own compelling body of work for decades. His latest project is named "Double Tenor Quintet," as in Tony Malaby and Jimmy Greene, longtime pianist Peter Madsen and drummer Gerald Cleaver filling out the group. For the CD release concert at Iridium, Pavone showed that the name is not just an honorific; the pieces from Ancestors (Playscape) are written specifically to highlight the many possibilities of a two-horn group: cutting contests, baton-relay themes and in-tandem stylistic and textural counterpoint. The tunes on the album are of reasonable length but were deliciously expanded in the live setting, their density making them seem even longer. The churning rhythms were a roiling backdrop for the unique approaches of Malaby and Greene, the legacy of Joe Henderson taken in two very different directions. Even when the two horns sat for the earlier piece "East Arc," Pavone's compositional ethic was clear: he wants his music to keep generating momentum as it plunges forward. This mission suits Malaby particularly well, giving him the opportunity to apply his specific brand of virtuosic belligerence to some especially meaningful statements.

Company of Heaven Jazzfest

Company of Heaven

Monkeytown

Williamsburg, Brooklyn

January 12, 2009

Right in the middle of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) Conference, a new management agency, Company of Heaven, put on its inaugural festival for three days at three venues. The timing couldn't have been coincidental though any interested APAPers would need open minds and ears for the agency's eclectic artist roster. The final night of the festival (Jan. 12th) took place at the truly bizarre Monkeytown venue in Williamsburg and demonstrated the pool from which Company of Heaven draws its refreshment. The first set of the evening featured agency head Judith Insell

on a brief, almost unrecognizable, deconstruction of John Coltrane's "India" for solo viola. For the second group, bassist Mark Helias
Mark Helias
Mark Helias

bass, acoustic
' Open Loose with saxophonist Tony Malaby and drummer Tom Rainey, the oddity of the room became apparent. Bands play in the center with low-lying sofas on all four sides and a very high ceiling. As a result, Helias' braising funk was tempered a bit as the trio figured out the acoustical geometry, Malaby doing his best not to blow out the space. The feel was chamber-like and the audience seemed like well-stuffed nobles watching court musicians. Rainey stayed behind the kit for the last group of the first segment, guitarist Brad Shepik
Brad Shepik
Brad Shepik

guitar
's trio with bassist Matt Penman. They played previews from a new album and some older material, Shepik's proto-swing guitar veering into fusion territory, bouncing around the room in every direction.

—Andrey Henkin

Dave Holland
Dave Holland
Dave Holland
b.1946
bass

Dave Holland Octet

Birdland

New York City

January 7-12, 2009



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