Nick Catalano has a beat on the Big Apple. Find out what's cookin' in NYC.
In the halcyon days of the first Birdland (the early 50's) Monday night was jam session night and the house rhythm section featured a young pianist named Horace Silver. Though in his early 20's (he was born in 1928) Silver appeared much younger and his diminutive figure at the keyboard is still etched in my mind intensely pouring out the hot-tempoed lines of the still-novel bebop literature. I, together with my fellow musician friends, sat there mesmerized as he gushed line after line of hard-swinging bop melodies chorded with the hip harmonic sounds that were all the rage. Sweating heavily, ...read more
On Monday March 24th Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola was the again the scene of a memorable big band concert from the Manhattan School of Music Concert Jazz Band under the direction of Justin DiCioccio. On the occasion of Sammy Nestico's 90th birthday, the director (who was a cohort of Nestico's in White House dance bands of the 60's and 70's) focused on the legendary charts that the famed composer/arranger wrote for the Count Basie Band from 1966-84. Beginning with such excursions into seminal swing scripts as 88 Basie Street" and Have a Nice Day" the band launched an ...read more
On the final night of January and the onset of Super Bowl weekend, Joey DeFrancesco brought his touring trio into Birdland celebrating his latest CD release for HighNote One For Rudy. With bandmates guitarist Paul Bollenback and drummer Carmen Intorre DeFrancesco lit up the room with his B3 and deftly moved to the trumpet and then to the piano--performance features he has included in his last several years. The album celebrates the organist's association with famed record producer Rudy Van Gelder who, DeFrancesco revealed in a brief backstage interview, was the engineer for his second Columbia album ...read more
The Brazilian tidal wave which has been building throughout the fall at Dizzy's continued its flow with a holiday line-up of samba stalwarts. Led by percussionist Duduka Da Fonseca, pianist Helio Alves and vocalist Maucha Adnet, the all-star group featured sax/ clarinetist Anat Cohen, guitarist Mike Moreno, and bassist Hans Glawischnig. Most interesting in this latest appearance by the Brazilians was the presentation of a mostly new repertoire and a new guest. Early in the second set on opening night (Dec. 19) Da Fonseca introduced flutist/saxophonist Mauro Senise, a bandleader who had performed with Da Fonseca in ...read more
An iconic jazz haven is born again. It's a name I don't think I've heard spoken of in many years. And so when I learned that after many years, Minton's Playhouse" was re-opening at its original address at West 118th Street in Harlem on the ground floor of the old Cecil Hotel, I was really delighted. Delighted that the unassuming little nightclub where Bird and Diz' and Monk and the rest of the greats and near-greats all went to jam was back in business after a fire in 1974 had shut it down. Although I grew ...read more
After appearing in 18 countries on a world tour in support of their Warner Brothers CD The Changing Lights, Stacey Kent and her conductor/arranger/ saxophonist (and husband of 22 years) Jim Tomlinson wound up their travels at Birdland during the week of December 3rd. Transcending genres and national boundaries, the elfin-voiced multi-lingual Kent who has sung in French, Italian, German and Portuguese has won over fans worldwide and attained new dimensions of jazz internationalism. Her album sales exceed 1.3 million in a 15 year recording career which has reached an apotheosis with the current CD. Kent, Tomlinson ...read more
In Robert Altman's most underappreciated film Kansas City there is a memorable scene for music fans. In the 1930's at the Hey Hey club (one of the town's hotter venues) some of the more notable K.C. folk (politicians, society matrons, wealthy denizens) are having a good time. Everyone in town recognizes these eminent figures but ignores the black jazz musicians playing in the background. But for the film audience the musicians--Lester Young, Count Basie, Mary Lou Williams, Coleman Hawkins, Jay McShann and a young Charlie Parker--are the celebrities. History has made them famous and the white notables of 1930 have ...read more
Trio da PazDizzy's Club Coca-Colajny: New York City, NYAugust 27, 2013There can be no doubt that Trio da Paz is the hottest jazz group working in Gotham these days. In the last week of August the band was booked for an extended two-week engagement, once again featuring friends" Harry Allen, Joe Locke and Maucha Adnet. This is the umpteenth time in the past couple of years that the group has performed at Dizzy's--each occasion a sellout. It is difficult to recall the last time such repeat bookings of one group occurred in ...read more
One of Gotham's newest music rooms 54 Below has decided to feature Brazilian music this summer and two veteran Brasileros--Maucha Adnet and Helio Alves--recently added their contributions. Performing music from Milagre (ZOHO, 2013), the duo invited clarinetist Anat Cohen and percussionist Cyro Baptista for the date. Brazilian vocalists have been populating the jazz rooms lately (I wrote about Leny Andrade a few columns back), resulting in a deeper exploration of the nuances present in the melodic innovations of composers such as Dori Caymmi, Gilberto Gil, Moacir Santos, Caetano Veloso, Hermeto Pascoal, Edu Lobo and Antonio Carlos Jobim. ...read more
Emceed by scholar/ vocalist Michael Feinstein, Jazz at Lincoln Center continued its 25th anniversary season in a celebration of the big band era. With music supplied by Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks, an ideal orchestra for such a program, Feinstein succeeded in deepening an understanding of the relationship between the bands, their vocalists, and the songwriter/arrangers of the era. Dubbed Swinging with the Big Bands, the evening of June 13, 2013 showcased vocalists Nellie McKay,Connie Evingson and Sachal Vasandani, with Wynton Marsalis performing featured solos. The show focused on little known ironies and ersatz histories of the ...read more
The legendary musical power of Pat Martino was on display at Birdland on April 4, 2013, in all its glory. The myths that have arisen about this formidable guitarist will have new layers when the jazz cognoscenti begin commenting on his latest feats. Martino's burning swing, long the trademark of his improvisational wizardry, acquired added zip, with seminal saxophonist Eric Alexander joining him on the frontline of his latest quartet. The sound of the guitar and tenor articulating the heads of the tunes is rare and compelling. And the admixture of Pat Bianchi's Hammond B-3 allows the ...read more
Celebrating the release of Black Orpheus (Motéma, 2013), bassist Nilson Matta brought his band into Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola on February 13, 2013. Along with pianist Klaus Mueller, percussionist Fernando Saci, drummer Alex Kautz and saxophonist Steve Wilson the show featured legendary singer Leny Andrade, who also performs on the CD.Although Brazilian music has enthralled American audiences for decades, they rarely encounter the pioneering authenticity that Matta brings to a performance. The producers at Dizzy's have, in recent months, frequently headlined Trio de Paz, also featuring Matta, and that group has given Gothamites real insight into the bossa nova ...read more
The onslaught of compelling Latin jazz concerts, club performances and recordings here in Gotham are attracting audiences all over town. Here are a few highlights. On Friday, January 11, Catalonian pianist Chano Dominguez appeared at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola accompanied by drummer Dafnis Prieto. Selections from Dominguez's critically acclaimed Blue Note CD Flamenco Sketches (2012)--a tribute to trumpeter Miles Davis--provided the repertoire for the show. The incorporation of various flamenco textures and motifs set against such Davis standards as Blue In Green" reminded me of a similar CD experiment, Miles from India (Four Quarters, 2008), on which saxophonist ...read more
Although pianist Ellis Marsalis has garnered countless plaudits for his teaching at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts and as chair of the Jazz Studies department at the University of New Orleans he rarely gets critical notice in these parts for his pianism. For decades, he has shaped the lives of countless jazz musicians including trumpeters Terence Blanchard and Nicholas Payton, pianist singer Harry Connick Jr., and his own four musical sons. During his career, the 78 year-old pianist's hmusical associates have included saxophonist Cannonball Adderley, trumpeter Nat Adderley, saxophonist Eddie Harris and trumpter Al Hirt. He has released ...read more
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