Pharoah Sanders, Miles From India, Bobby Previte, Marcia Ball, Whitetree & David Grisman
The crowd isn't as swollen as expected, but Einaudi's superstar status is more of a European phenomenon, and he'd only made his US touring debut towards the end of 2008. Drummer Ronald Lippok has a careful way with building his cycles, all the more notable if the viewer is situated at his feet. He'll use brushes with massive restraint, setting up a steady metronome swish, gradually introducing each element of the drum-set, until right at the climax of an admittedly stately piece he might trip the bass drum pedal, just when the onlooker is literally begging for the fuller beat to kick in. Such restraint and attention to layering is what helps create a strange kind of tension, as Einaudi and Ronald's brother Robert are sensitively shaping the relationship of acoustic piano and softened electronic patterns. Einaudi is the personification of ripple. Whitetree's music is certainly not innovative, but it does possess an inviting atmosphere of rolling organic development, steadily sowing grains of pleasure out amongst its listeners. Both factions may have problems with magnetising their established followings, but perhaps the governing idea is to create a completely new congregation.
The David Grisman Quintet
B.B. King Blues Club
June 3, 2009
Mandolin man Grisman's band has a jazz configuration, but his prime genre has always been bluegrass. Possibly. Even though old-time picking can't help but inform every note of his set, the repertoire isn't exactly either form, and manages to ensnare elements from a variety of rootsy sources, ending up with what Grisman has (for almost four decades) been terming dawg music. Indeed, his website is www.dawgnet.com. The last time Grisman played at B.B.'s, the tunes felt more ingrained with the bluegrass spirit, but on this visit he's definitely out there, dodging between the categories. Even though there's no shortage of dexterously pinging mandolin solos, the multi-flute mastery of Matt Eakle is a major part of the sound, his hard-edged, percussive approach side-stepping all of the usual jazz cliches that have been established for his instrument (let that bass flute belch!). The quintet has been together for over thirty years, but Grisman jokes that he's the only original member. Even so, the current model has already built up a heady rapport (though bassist Jim Kerwin has been with Grisman for around two of those decades). It's a show with humor, dash and virtuosity, an exhilarating adventure into musical miscegenation.