Barry Altschul, William Hooker, Bobby Previte & Andrew Cyrille
Drummer William Hooker booked his own gig at The Knitting Factory, marking a somewhat rare return for jazz at a venue that once held the music close to its pulsating core. He also elected to conjure up a sequence of playing situations, creating a set of lineups that'd mostly never played with each other before. He doubtless had a gut feeling that these artists would cohere instantly, and he was indeed correct in his predictions. The essence of this evening was the dominance of the spontaneous, improvised thrust, but a wayward element was born due to the key makeup of each band's sonic assault. A jazz vocabulary was certainly present, mostly with the horn players, but other forceful powers arrived via the language of rock, rap, ethnic folk and modern composed music. Here was an assemblage of players and combinations that are less frequently sighted. The whole night resonated with an impromptu energy that mostly brutalized, but also held stretches of layered contemplation.
Rapper Akustyx and clarinetist Matt Lavelle opened the proceedings with a short mood-establishing set, Lavelle sketching and stretching around Akustyx's rhymes. Next up, there was a multi-generational quartet featuring Tom Hamilton (electronics), Gary Heidt (guitar), Larry Roland (bass) and Ravish Momin (drums). Their confrontational stance cast a glance back at the heyday of No Wave, mixing a classic serrated Downtown funk-rock with Hamilton's electronic interference tactics. His distressing emissions were reminiscent of Allen Ravenstine's work with Pere Ubu, and contrasted well with Heidt's sporadic deadpan vocal interjections. Hooker then guested (or was he a full member?) with David Watson (bagpipes), Matt Lavelle (clarinet), David First (guitar), Mark Smith (bass) and a mystery djembe player. Watson put the drone determinedly in drone-rock, providing a rare chance to hear the pipes in a radically alternative setting.
Not surprisingly, many prime connections were made during Hooker's own set, when he was joined by Zach Layton (guitar), Michael Attias (saxophone) and Tom Zlabinger (bass). It was startling to hear Attias in a much more violent setting than is usually the case when he's leading his own bands. This exposed another side to his soloing, as he soared over Layton's jagged, asymmetrical riffs. Hooker was a cyclonic force at the back, rising into the centre, setting up thundering swells of jazz freedom in a rocking context. The evening's final set was notable for the dominant presence of violinist David Soldier, leader of the The Soldier String Quartet, with Lavelle and Akustyx returning alongside bassist Mike Noordzy. All of the band combinations managed to sustain an intensified manifestation of free jazz, free rock, or whichever style happened to be having its wings unclipped at any given stage of the proceedings. Hooker should do this again.
January 11, 2013
Drummer Bobby Previte opened up the 2013 Winter Jazzfest, delivering one of the three triumphant sets of the night right at the beginning of the proceedings. The other winning sets were to come courtesy of The Fringe and Jacob Garchik's Atheist Gospel Trombone Choir. Previte's Baritone Trio also included guitarist Mike Gamble and baritone saxophonist Fabian Rucker, an unfamiliar player from Vienna. Gamble perched on a stool, investigating with a splashing, reverberant, effects-ringing, deliberate-hum backdrop. He was halfway between dappled noodler and angular serrater. Previte is an extremely tuned and tuned-in stick man. There were parts of the set where he was deftly clacking on his hi-hat, cymbals, and their stands, hitting chiming note repeats, turning that figure into an integral part of the piece, then slashing softly across his gleaming metal array. He was mechanical in his rotations around the skins, but also roughly attuned to their organic qualities. Rucker was a revelation, glorying in the Bowery Electric's punchy sound system as he rattled out deeply guttural riffs and soloing bellows. Despite the above-described abstractions, Previte's compositions were always indebted to the groove, barreling out of a 1960s soul jazz tradition, upended into some freshly brawling experimentation result.
Andrew Cyrille's 21st Century Big Band Unlimited
The Atrium, Lincoln Center
January 17, 2013
Nearly every Thursday night, the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center offers free admittance performances featuring a wide range of musical styles. On this particular occasion, the queue stretched right around the corner, and the space swiftly reached its audience capacity. This was an understandably popular show, as it marked the first time that drummer Andrew Cyrille had presented his new big band project. The lineup also featured a small contingent of Los Angeles members rarely seen in New York.