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Live From New York

J.D. Allen, Joel Harrison, Mats Gustafsson/Thurston Moore, Steve Reid, Joey Calderazzo & Eddie Palmieri

By Published: March 3, 2009
Some artists keep their tongues still, letting the music speak, but most audience members would agree that it's beneficial to hear introductions, explanations or even anecdotes, as a background to the compositions, and also as a pleasurable entertainment ritual. Pianist Joey Calderazzo goes one step further, pacing up and down the stage in stand-up comedian role, adopting a Robert Downey Jr. persona, or maybe Dustin Hoffman as Lenny Bruce. He has so much twitchy energy that it needs venting between numbers, but there is still ample dynamism in store for his energized piano solos, particularly when Calderazzo's now-ingrained rapport with drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts comes into play. Bassist Boris Kozlov performs well throughout, but he's ultimately the firmly-planted anchor, standing betwixt the volatile exchanges of Calderazzo and Watts. These two have been entwined as part of the Branford Marsalis Quartet for just over a decade, with "Tain" also having been the long-standing sticksman with this particular trio.

Calderazzo continues to re-invent his material, sometimes returning to tunes that have been contributed to the repertoires of Marsalis and Michael Brecker but now playing them in what he probably considers to be their 'pure' form, undoctored by other bandleaders. Calderazzo is very theatrical in the way he decorates his melodies in their solo excursions, but he also has a very hardened, gushing aggression that escalates when in dialogue with the storm-brewing Watts, editing out any uncertainties in favor of a pointed attack. Then, for his next tune, he'll float delicately on the surface of a sensitive ballad, proving himself to be ideally versatile.

Eddie Palmieri
Eddie Palmieri
Eddie Palmieri

Rose Theater

February 6, 2009

Pianist and composer Eddie Palmieri (a sit-down comedian) has revived La Perfecta, the 1960s mini-orchestra that recorded throughout that decade and into the 1970s. This is essentially Nuyorican salsa dance music, and therefore feels constrained by the formal seating environment of the Rose Theater. However, it takes Palmieri about twenty minutes to discard such concerns, and even though the audience aren't shaking from a standing-up position, the whole auditorium aura is soon mentally loosened, sending out waves of groove-relaxation. Soon, the old stiffness is forgotten. The aging process is ignored, as Palmieri leads with gusto, and lead singer Herman Olivera deftly heads up the formation dance moves while delivering his impassioned lines. Trombonist Jimmy Bosch and trumpeter Brian Lynch virtually run towards the front-of-stage microphone to dash off repeated solos that always burn with crackling precision and emotional expressivity. Even though flautist Karen Jospeh doesn't solo in the conventional sense, her continual percussive embellishments add drama to many of the pieces, calling up a strong Cuban influence. The most potent 1960s and '70s vibration is provided by Nelson Gonzalez, whose amplifier sound on the Cuban tres is almost psychedelic, a disembodied bleed that's sometimes hard to locate, until suddenly homing in on his fingers bares the source of this sonic wonderment.

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