Steve Coleman and Five Elements — Three nights at the Gallery, featuring the remarkable Craig Taborn on acoustic piano. First night, second set was a 90-minute blowout that flirted with abstraction but grooved the roof off the place. Joining the huge-toned Coleman were Jonathan Finlayson on trumpet, Gregoire Maret on harmonica, Anthony Tidd on electric bass, Dafnis Prieto on drums, and the astonishing Ramón García Perez on percussion. Coleman and Finlayson joined forces on a horns-only “’Round Midnight” that recalled Obeng’s talking-drum rendition from earlier in the month.
Bob Belden’s Ice — An evening of soul-jazz from Belden, playing a muscular if understated tenor sax and joined by guitarist Al Street, organist George Papageorge, and drummer Vince Ector. Drenched in blues and deep in the pocket. Among the highlights was a double-timey rendition of “Don’t Know Why,” the Norah Jones hit.
Uri Caine Trio — I keep hearing from certain quarters that playing standards is bankrupt. So why did Uri Caine sound so brilliant and fresh when he started one of his Vanguard sets with “Green Dolphin Street” and end it with “Speak Low”? This was a pivotal and well-deserved moment for the great pianist and his trio, featuring Drew Gress on bass and Ben Perowsky on drums.
Lynne Arriale Trio — A refined, swinging two-nighter at the Standard by the pianist and her regular trio mates Jay Anderson on bass and Steve Davis on drums, celebrating their new Motéma release, Arise. Arriale is a technical whiz and a strong composer; her covers of “It Don’t Mean a Thing” and “Aiko, Aiko” are well worth hearing.
Amanda Monaco — A successful night at Cornelia Street for the young guitarist and her exceptional band, with Jason Gillenwater on tenor, Eivind Opsvik on bass, and Jeff Davis on drums, all of whom dug deeply into Monaco’s edgy, well-crafted compositions.
- Jacques Chanier, Quilt (Accurate)
- Ravi Coltrane, Mad 6 (Columbia/Eighty Eight’s)
- Ugonna Okegwo, UOniverse (Satchmo)
- Jeff Parker, Like-Coping (Delmark)
- Gary Smulyan, The Real Deal (Reservoir)
- Luciana Souza, North and South (Sunnyside)