Frisell/Carter/Motian; Winter Jazzfest; Gato Barbieri/Poncho Sanchez; George Coleman; Monty Alexander; Lee Konitz
The Blue Note
January 9, 2009
It's just over a year since these masters of minimalism were last in residence at The Blue Note. This return shows that they've further refined their rapport, which was already bordering on the telepathic. In this very particular combination, each member plays in ways which they usually don't when found elsewhere, although their signature motifs cannot escape, even if re-born in a new relationship. In this setting, Paul Motian is at his least abstract, physically ticking out a noticeable beat rather than implying linear progression by whatever he omits. Motian's often concentrating on the cymbals, such magisterial restraint being a joy to witness. When he does boom around the general skins, this sudden activity possesses a heightened authority. Bill Frisell is noticeably Frisellian, but his guitar style emerges from an amplifier that's almost in the 'off' position, faintly sketching glittery strands of melody. His careful use of electronics sounds like an astral beaming, emitted from under the covers, way after the midnight hour. It's Ron Carter who happens to be the assertive member, although this is speaking in relative terms, given the trio's innate sensitivity. His solos are not so much solos as a slightly raised voice in a gentle discussion. Sheer pleasure is derived from the visible enjoyment chewed over between this threesome, from the elaborate way that they assemble tunes out of a collective rumination. Never hurried, always calm, these three sustain a constant interest whilst improvising, making pristine rufflings in the club's near silence, in front of a stilled, spellbound audience.
2009 NYC Winter Jazzfest
January 10, 2009
Timed to coincide with the annual APAP (Association Of Performing Arts Presenters) event, the Winter Jazzfest is a multi-act bonanza that will satiate promoters and regular punters alike. Following the congestion at last year's Knitting Factory location (three-tiers/three stages/termite-line stairwells), this year's fest has re-located to a trio of Greenwich Village venues. This move was out of necessity, as the Knit closed the portals of its TriBeCa club on New Year's Eve, awaiting a March 2009 re-opening in Brooklyn's Williamsburg district. In most ways, (le) Poisson Rouge can be viewed as the inheritor of the Factory's musical ideals, presenting an exciting melange of rock, jazz, hip hop, electronica and moderne classical sounds. Essentially, the Poisson extends its reach even further than The Knit, though with less of the rock'n'roll. Over the street lies Kenny's Castaways, a joint with a deep punkoid history, where Patti Smith, The Ramones and the New York Dolls used to gig. Nowadays, it's part of the area's venue heritage-spread: haunts that had more significance in the past, now rarely enticing current scene-spotters. Even so, it's good to have an excuse to discover its characterful charms. Around the corner, Sullivan Hall is one of New York's best venues for funky groovin,' but this reviewer eventually fails to check out any of the performers on its schedule. There's too much of a kinetic rush at the other two locations...