March-April 2012: Dan Hanrahan, Matthew Shipp, Danilo Perez, Aerial Photograph
The interaction between the musicians was particularly unique compared to most jazz ensemble playing. Often, during the improvisations, the rhythm section seemed to be controlling the direction of each piece more than the individual soloists, who were being fed constantly shifting ideas that quickly became the focal point throughout the set. During several of Garrett's solos, Blade responded to Perez's often syncopated piano accompaniment with his own engaging rhythmic ideas. This interaction then provided Garrett with more material over which to respond and improvise. During some of Perez's solos, Patitucci and Blade accompanied in much the same way. Though jazz musicians are known for seeking a high level of interaction, this quartet accomplished a level of musical empathy in which any musician could provide a new direction at any time.
Pérez's solo rendition of pianist Thelonious Monk's "Ask Me Now" was one of the main highlights of the first set. He mixed elements of Monk's stride-influenced style of comping with harmonic concepts borrowed from 20th century classical music and modern jazz. It is especially unique when an artist interprets the work of a legend while still retaining their own expressive identity. Pérez played some ideas which Monk might have never played, but his interpretation always remained focused and never drifted far from the original melody.
Garret, who has worked with these musicians before but rarely in such a context, is known for having vocabulary based in refined bebop with a touch of free jazz-inspired aggression. His influences seemed to range from Charlie Parker to Jackie McLean, improvising over dissonant modal vamps and modern jazz pieces more than straight-ahead jazz, but never seemed uncomfortable or caught off-guard. Garrett was an obvious choice in terms of musical chemistry, but his ability to adapt to the situation at hand showed a new side to his musicianship.
This performance was preceded by a set from trumpeter Terrell Stafford's Quintet, and concluded the Kimmel Center's Jazz Up Close series.
Matt Davis's Aerial Photograph
April 19, 2012
Aerial Photograph was a band which may have appeared to some to be more a classical chamber ensemble than a group based on original composition and improvisation. While the influence of classical music was certainly present, the band incorporated the freedom of jazz improvisation with several genres of music to create a unique sound, especially within the jazz genre. The group was comprised of a string quartet, wind section, upright bass, drums and guitar. Matt Davis, a New York-based guitarist and composer, has been writing pieces for the group for years. He composes each piece, writing parts for each individual instrument, and then arranges them for the group. Many songs have solo sections which incorporate violins just as often as saxophone or guitar, providing a unique blend of instruments not often heard performing together in any context.
The overall sound of the group, which performs regularly around Philadelphia and New York, possessed elements of Ravel and Debussy in its textural style, but the compositions were often far simpler and seemed inspired by several eclectic forms of music. Pieces like "Benediction," from the band's eponymous 2002 self-produced debut, were very short and based on simple repetitive motifs which layered and then intersected with each other to create a full palette of sound.
Davis' performance style was clearly influenced by modern jazz, but his vocabulary revealed a deeper study of jazz tradition sometimes missing in today's younger players, a unique quality that added a more soulful element. He also displayed a sound grasp of the blues on the closing piece, "City of Age," from Ways and Means (VanDolah Sounds, 2009) a simple song which closed with a slow vamp over which Davis improvised until the piece came to an end on its own.