Lee Konitz, Dan Tepfer, Bill Frisell, Sam Amidon, Vinny Golia, Lisa Mezzacappa, Wayne Krantz & Cliff Almond
The softly concentrated mood of the Jazz Standard was carried downtown to the Poisson, where that basement club's accustomed low-level mood lighting exacerbated the intimate aura of the cocked-ears crowd. A high degree of empathy was immediately apparent, between both audience and performers. The shapes were craftily constructed as a meeting between faint country whisperings and electronic stretchings, as Frisell dropped in a few surprising sonic tweaks to his guitar solos, exaggerating the natural tendencies of banjo-clang with his string mimicry, responding to Amidon's back porch pickings. Their pieces veered from instrumental to song, but always probed the possibilities of music that approached the silence of the rural backwaters. Well, at least relatively, besides an abundance of tiny creatures. For NYC, it was as quiet as it gets.
Both Frisell and Amidon were similarly caught up in a kind of archetypal folksiness, where multiple roots musics refined into a style that still bore their personal imprints. Frisell is almost an old man, and Amidon wants to be one before his time has come. Alternating between banjo, fiddle and acoustic guitar, Amidon had the complete troubadour kit-bag. The pace was kept deliberately hesitant, decidedly floating, but this didn't deter from the constant audience attention as the crafty twosome wove their delicate patchwork.
Vinny Golia / Lisa Mezzacappa
March 24, 2012
West Coast invaded East Coast at this less-frequented joint adjacent to the West Side Highway. Reedsman Vinny Golia and bassist Lisa Mezzacappa had both freshly arrived in town from Californian parts, each with a clutch of gigs to play in a variety of settings. For this first one, they coincided together in duo formation. Once again, this was a meeting between an elder statesman and a younger rising star. In fact, Golia (66) is a Bronxian child, so this was almost a homecoming, even though he now lives in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, Mezzacappa (37) originally hails from Staten Island, but has been dwelling in San Francisco for just over a decade. Golia was travelling light, concentrating on soprano saxophone, clarinet and various wooden flutes. The pair was first on in the evening, and so was conscious of compressing its improvisations into a concise form, perhaps too aware of the looming curtailment.
The pieces were fairly short, but upheld a similar mission of questioning, imparted thorough attention to mood, space and poise. Clarinet and bass circled and spiraled, both busy in their tiptoe creeping. The pair's rapport was consistently on the edge between traditional jazz and free abstraction, with shades of old time blues jumping into extreme flutters, speed-switching with hair-trigger interactions. Mezzacappa made glancing bow-flays, Golia introduced a shakuhachi-like flute, his tough trilling leading into a saxophone sequence. An already cool sharpness was intensified by the harsh acoustics of the room. It was fortuitous that they eventually elected to extend with an encore, as that was the set's fittingly climatic point.
Wayne Krantz/Cliff Almond
April 9, 2012
There's another significant age-span between guitarist Wayne Krantz (55) and the younger Californian drummer Cliff Almond (though exactly how much younger, it's been difficult to ascertain). Krantz was gearing up for a four-night Iridium stint with two different lineups, but this Monday show found him sneaking into the regular Les Paul slot, where the pioneering guitarist's old cronies continue bearing his torch. On the surface, this was an unlikely environment, but these Monday nights are gaining renown for adventurous visiting, the pinnacle of which was represented by gonzo guitarist Ted Nugent's alarming appearance.
After the usual set from Les Paul's Trio, Krantz bridged the gap by joining them for some blues lickin'a rare opportunity to hear him in a more linear mode of expression. Then, the trio left the stage and was replaced by Almond, who was to be the drummer in one of Krantz's two bands later in the week. Almond might be best described as a junior Keith Carlock, who is Krantz's well-ensconced stickman compadre. Carlock was due to appear in the other unit, Krantz's road-worn trio with bassist Tim LeFebvre.