Førdefestivalen Førde, Norway July 3-6, 2014 In its 25th year, the Førdefestivalen global music weekender became slightly nostalgic. Usually, a specialized theme is declared for each edition, but for this significant anniversary, a set of return invites were issued to artists who were fondly remembered for their previous appearances. Normally, the festival has a policy of continually booking first-time visitors, but we could forgive them for being a touch misty-eyed on this occasion. The other main thrust was to contrast, and often combine, local Norwegian folk talent from the surrounding fjords with a ...read more
Maira Freitas + Lenine Brasil Summerfest at Central Park Summerstage New York, NY July 19, 2014 For her New York City debut, Maira Freitas traveled lightly, backed solely by a drummer on stage. She did the first few songs on piano, beginning with a jazz- inflected samba and then moving on to a very personal rendition of Dream A Little Dream," her voice a clear soprano with great range. After introducing herself to the audience, she switched to an electric piano attached to a laptop, using lots of effects to enhance songs ...read more
Phish Saratoga Performing Arts Center Saratoga Springs, New York July 3-5, 2014 If there is one overriding impression to glean from Phish's summer 2014 run at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, it's that the band is equally proud of and inspired by the material on Fuego (Jemp/ATO, 2014). Not only was every song on the record played over the course of the three-night run (with the exception of keyboardist Page McConnell's Halfway to the Moon," which has already been in rotation for some time), but tunes such as the title ...read more
Yes NYCB Theatre At Westbury Westbury, NY July 12, 2014 When Yes announced that it would be touring in the summer of 2014, it also stated that it would be playing its classic albums Fragile (Atlantic Records, 1971) and Close To The Edge (Atlantic Records, 1972) in their entirety, as well as excerpts from Heaven And Earth (Frontier Records, 2014) and some greatest hits selections. Quite a daunting proposition, especially considering that original lead vocalist Jon Anderson hasn't been a part of the band since 2008. In May 2008, Anderson (who was not particularly interested ...read more
Jeffrey Lewis & The Jrams The Actress & Bishop June 17, 2014 Singer, guitarist, rapper and comix artist Jeffrey Lewis is always itching to change the name of his backing bands. Here's yet another, with the Jrams being a bass-and-drums pair (Heather Wagner and Caitlin Gray), keeping the tourbus lightly populated for maximum road-grease on the leader's endless touring schedule. He was returning to The Actress & Bishop's upstairs room after a couple of years, to find the performance positioning improved, with the band playing on a slightly-raised circular corner-stage. He pulled a ...read more
Dave Holland's Prism Copenhagen Jazzhouse Copenhagen, Denmark July 10, 2014 In jazz, forming a new group gives the possibility of finding a new musical expression, but it can also be a way of returning to one's musical roots. In the case of bassist Dave Holland's group Prism, it is actually both of these things. The group has brought Holland back in touch with the electrifying fusion that he created with trumpeter Miles Davis on such legendary records as In a Silent Way (Columbia, 1969) and Bitches Brew (Columbia, 1970), but the music also reflects ...read more
Bonerama Governers Island Beach Club NolaFunk's 1st Annual Crawfish & Music Fest Governors Island, NY June 27, 2014 Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler! Those who speak French know what the phrase means. If you have ever been to jny: New Orleans, you've lived" this phrase. If you've had the pleasure of seeing Bonerama in concert you can't help but scream the phrase at the top of your lungs. French or English. Either way, Let The Good Times Roll!. Bonerama is a band. Yes it is, but that description is somewhat lacking. Bonerama ...read more
Halie Loren Quartet Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society aka Douglas Beach House Half Moon Bay, CaliforniaJune 22, 2014 Topping off the late afternoon at the Bach, the Halie Loren Quartet took the stage, ready to give the audience the gift of song. The quartet was composed of Brian West on drums, Mark Schneider on bass, Matthew Treder on piano and Halie Loren vocals. They have been on the rise in the public eye, expanding their horizons and gaining national and international notoriety over the past several years. It is not just a single thing that ...read more
Barenaked Ladies San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa Nielsen 360 Conference San Antonio, TX June 24, 2014 The Barenaked Ladies are one of Canada's greatest and most successful exports to the United States if not the world. If success were defined by bringing smiles to the faces of the young and old alike, then the band is clearly a huge success. Best known for their string of hit singles that include One Week," The Old Apartment," If I Had $1000000," Brian Wilson" and most recently the theme song for the CBS sitcom ...read more
Jeff Beck Group E-Werk Cologne, Germany May 29, 2014 Sometimes a man's reputation proceeds him. Such was the case tonight, where an overflow crowd of 2,000 fans arrived early, and crammed into a steamy bunker of bricks to hear Jeff Beck's wonderous wails to the electric wind. With general admission ticket prices around an 80 buck exchange rate, it was good indication of respect. The price of admission proved to be merited, about twenty licks in. Luckily for hundreds of fans, sensational sounds were the primary pleasure, ...read more
Marcus Miller and Mustapha Baqbou Place Moulay El Hassan Essaouira Festival Essaouira, Morocco June 14, 2014 On Saturday a rebirth was being prepared at Essaouira Festival. The most awaited artist of the festival, bassist/composer Marcus Miller was going to play with accomplished gnaoua vocalist and guembri player, Mustapha Baqbou. At the conference room, and on his birthday, Miller confessed that he felt not the least uncomfortable about this fusion. To this end, he explained that the slap sound that he once thought very peculiar to the bass and his own ingenious style, he actually ...read more
Seun Kuti and Egypt 80SFJazz San Francisco, California June 19, 2014 A popular aphorism maintains that the apple never falls fall from the tree." That certainly holds true for Seun Kuti, the son of the legendary saxophonist, songwriter, social activist and political rebel Fela Kuti. The roots run deep. While apples are not indigenous to Nigeria, neither is the Afro Beat music which Fela Kuti developed and popularized, a legacy which his son continues. It isn't often that one can see a band where the lead singer has been crooning since age eight, but that ...read more
Playhouse Square Tri-C JazzFest Cleveland Cleveland, Ohio June 26-28, 2014 For the first time in 35 years, Cuyahoga Community College's annual jazz festival received a major makeover via the shift from a two week event in April to a three day happening in June. Also key to this paradigm shift was a move of all concerts downtown to the newly rededicated Playhouse Square. With the second most significant theater district in the country next to New York City, Cleveland boasts four beautifully appointed theaters right in the heart of downtown and the twelve ticketed ...read more
Saratoga Performing Arts Center Freihofer's Saratoga Jazz Festival Saratoga Springs, NY June 28-29, 2014 Perfect weather accented this years Freihofer's Saratoga Jazz Festival, an event that had an eclectic mix of young musicians with interesting ideas and approaches, and veterans who deliver consistently. The weather is always a factor because it's primarily an outdoor festival for two days, on two stages, at the beautiful Saratoga Performing Arts Center. (There is some covered amphitheater seating). But the most important ingredient, naturally, is what the array of artists bring to the table. Those assembled this ...read more
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