Dick Dale, Joe Louis Walker, Bill Sims Jr. & The Harriet Tubman Double Trio
Bill Sims Jr.
Nublu In Outer Place
October 31, 2011
Despite its massively cross-genre approach to bookings, Nublu has not particularly concentrated on the blues. As a low-key taster for a new Monday night residency, singer-guitarist Bill Sims Jr. has been playing select dates at the temporarily relocated East Village club. He's normally found gigging at Terra Blues on Bleecker Street, just west a few blocks, in Greenwich Village. Here, at Nublu, there was the sense that he'd have to work on gathering a regular gang of devotees. On the evidence of this late- night showing, word-of-mouth will assuredly spread like wildfire.
When Sims and his combo first took to the stage, the sparse audience was dotted around the edges of the room. As the midnight hour passed, the second wave of Nublu regulars began to arrive, following a lull after the early evening Butch Morris performance. So powerful was the bluesy groove that, steadily, the entire room's occupants began to rise, getting into a dancin' state. Sims used the blues grind as his foundation, but his songs also took in strong elements of soul, funk, boogie and anything else that rolls along unstoppably. His not-so-secret weapon was a tight trumpet/trombone horn section that expanded the potential soloing range with individual shows of blazing virtuosity. So, besides the expected guitar frazzle, there was a fruity brass explosion to boot. It was probably the trombonist Clark Gayton who made the Nublu connection, as his Explorations In Dub outfit appears regularly at this joint. Along with trumpeter Kenny Rampton, Sims has got himself an exceptional horn-assault team. The jackknifing between his own guitar solos and their fiery contributions left few moments to pause between the varied grooves.
The Harriet Tubman Double Trio
(le) Poisson Rouge
November 1, 2011
The core Harriet Tubman Trio features guitarist Brandon Ross, bassist Melvin Gibbs and drummer J.T. Lewis, but has recently been developing a new project angled at doubling its range. This involves adding Graham Haynes on cornet and electronics, plus the laptop/turntables combination of DJ Logic and Val Inc. The stated aim for the evening was to address John Coltrane's Ascension (Impulse!, 1965), though as the music unwound, there was no audible connection with that work. Perhaps it was too predictable to expect sampled gobbets from the original vinyl, or even a direct reflection of its sonic terrain. Perhaps the group was just coincidentally using the word itself, for a general evocative power. Regardless of the intent, there was no impediment to the performance. Few audience members would have expected a direct interpretation anyway, knowing the nature of these players and this band.
The Double Trio formation appeared in NYC only a few months earlier, as part of the Undead Jazzfest. On that occasion, they were placed at the very end of the night, crumpling the interior of Sullivan Hall with their heightened volume levels. That set was considerably more aggressive and hyperactive when placed beside this less extreme Poisson appearance.
The concept at this Ascension gig involved a more ambient approach, with the original core trio maintaining dominance over the guesting threesome. Ross and Gibbs lurked between ethereal flow and an occasionally distorted friction, as Logic and Inc. provided swirls of sonic thickening. Some of Inc.'s elements were more palpable, as she triggered percussive sounds on her sample-pad. Haynes was intentionally submerging his cornet striations in a dense soup of delay and obfuscation (yes, he found the obfuscation dial on his console).