Toshiko Akiyoshi & Lew Tabackin
New York, NY
July 2, 2009
Musical and marital partners for almost four decades, pianist/composer/arranger Toshiko Akiyoshi and tenor saxophonist/flutist Lew Tabackin have developed strong chemistry. Their big band, long a Monday night fixture at Birdland, is defunct but the pair still plays an annual gig at their old digs. On Jul. 2nd, accompanied by Phil Palombi (bass) and Mark Taylor (drums), the dynamic duo rekindled the old excitement, delivering an inspired set that maintained its rhythm and flow, from the scampering pentatonic melodies of Akiyoshi's solo introduction to "Long Yellow Road" through to Tabackin's closing cadenza on "Chasing After Love" (a rewrite of Richard Rodgers' "Lover"). On "Serenade to Sweden" (a "derangement" he joked, of Ellington's original) and "Eulogy," excerpted from Akiyoshi's suite-length tribute to the Duke, the tenor man sounded like a latter-day Johnny Hodges or Ben Webster, his breathy vibrato and scooped attacks the epitome of tough romanticism. In contrast, his flute playing, punctuated with dramatic pauses and bird-call emulations, evoked the sound of the Japanese end-blown shakuhachi. On "Sumi-e" (named after the spontaneous, minimalistic school of East Asian painting) and then on Coltrane's "Wise One," his impressionistic solos seemed to tell stories or sketch specific scenes. Akiyoshi romped over Bud Powell's "Un Poco Loco," accentuating her short, chromatically intricate phrases with leg kicks.
Diego Voglino, Ben Monder, Chris Lightcap
July 14, 2009
Royale, a next-door-neighborly pub tucked away in Park Slope, Brooklyn, has hosted Tuesday night jam sessions for over a year. On Jul. 14th, house drummer Diego Voglino invited guitar wiz Ben Monderand bassist Chris Lightcap for a relaxed but intense set. Progressing through the standards "I'll Remember April," "This Is New" (a lesser-played Kurt Weill/Ira Gershwin gem) and "Lover," the trio closed with a rocking cover of "World of Pain" (from Cream's Disraeli Gears). The intensity grew gradually, buoyed by Monder's intelligent, fluidly rendered melodies and complex chords with subtly shifting inner voices, climaxing with a shredding solo, a stylistic pastiche of Eric Dolphy and psychedelia. The following jam session included local talents JD Allen (tenor), Aruan Ortiz (keys) and Sebastian Noelle (guitar) and many more. Working out over "Airegin," "There Is No Greater Love" and "Out of Nowhere," with a new lineup for each tune, the session maintained a high level of craftsmanship, with disciplined, to-the-point solos, even on the final "Blue N Boogie" blues, featuring simultaneous blowing by nine horns. It was exciting to watch these hungry-to-play musicians take chances and extend themselves, occasionally stumbling but most often prevailing. Monder and Co. returned for the final hit: Jimmy Webb's "Wichita Lineman," featuring country-meets-soul comping, "Rhythm-A-Ning" (with Allen) and a slow-shuffling, slightly fractured G-blues.
New York City
July 3, 2009