Ari Hoenig Quartet: Niu's Jazz & Blues Bar, Bangkok
The second set began with another Charlie Parker tune, a barnstorming twenty minute interpretation of "Anthropology" the highlight of which was Hoenig's drum solo. It began as a hi-hat solo which was breathtaking for its speed and ingenuity, and it recalled the genius of Max Roach who was famous for just such a routine. The intensity hardly let up on "Ramison's Brew," with fine playing all round and more exhilarating drumming from Hoenig.
"For Tracey," the set's only out and out ballad, had the lyrical quality of a Miles Davis/ Wayne Shorter composition. Hoenig on brushes looked for all the world like a painter in his absorption, dobbing and working color into the canvases that were his cymbals and skins. Not for nothing was one of his releases entitled The Painter. (Smalls Records, 2004) Oehler's carved out more fine sounds from his sax, with fewer notes than on his previous solos but with arresting intensity. The final number of the set was the oddly titled "Green Spleen" which featured some contrasting rhythms something of a recurring theme in Hoenig's compositionsfrom drum 'n' bass to funk. With lively closing statements from all, the quartet fairly charged over the finishing line.
The encore and the final word went to Hoenig, who played the melody of an old American hymn, 'This Little Light of Mine" using mallets and elbows one again, lifting the melody from the venue's Gretch kit with the ease, and color, as if he were playing a steel pan. Lost in his rhythms, Hoenig quietly began to sing the words to himself, and the childlike innocence of this unselfconscious act only added to the grace of the piece, and somehow seemed liked a very fitting finale to a memorable night.