The BusI recently drove into the Big Apple to see singer Kate McGarry's band celebrate the release of their Girl Talk CD (Palmetto, 2012) at the Jazz Standard. It was a stressful drive, given the rush-hour timing and need to watch for idiots steering two tons of metal with their knees as they text Wassup?" to their friends.But when I finally reached the club, I came upon a legal parking place, right there on the street. Huzzah! So I quickly lined up for the swoop, shifted into R, and ...a taxi zipped in to let somebody ...read more
Eliane Elias Dizzy's Club Coca Cola New York, New York Wednesday, January 23, 2008
The other night at Dizzy's Club Coca Cola, high above the whirling traffic of Columbus Circle, there was a full moon and a full house as the Eliane Elias Trio played in support of their Bill Evans tribute CD, Something for You (Blue Note, 2008).
The innovations of pianist William John Evans have influenced whole generations of players, and his place in the jazz pantheon is secure. But it's a safe bet ...read more
Driving down to see McCoy Tyner at the Blue Note, listening to his Grammy-nominated Illuminations along the way, I wondered what new thing I could possibly say about this jazz icon. Of course the CD is terrific, as already documented on AAJ, and I knew his performance would be masterful. I figured I could always discuss the difference in the band -- it would be Billy Cobham and Stanley Clarke that night, rather than the CD's constellation of Gary Bartz, Terence Blanchard, Christian McBride, and Lewis Nash. So that was a possibility.
What happened instead was totally unpredictable, ...read more
Michel Camilo's Grammy-winning Live at the Blue Note has already been thoughtfully reviewed by two of my AAJ colleagues ( Franz Matzner and Joel Roberts ). Both of them note Camilo's virtuosity and classical roots, using words like dazzling" and astound[ing]" to describe his performance. In concert, all of this applies, with added dimensions of personal warmth and visible energy, as well as material that did not appear on the CD.
On September 29, 2004, this included the opening number, an improvised duet between Camilo and his percussionist/compatriot Guarionex Aquino, who conjured the promise of a hot tropical ...read more
These guys are a hoot. On first hearing Frank & Joe's debut CD on Hyena Records, 33 1/3 , I e-mailed Joe that very thought, and he wrote back, what is this 'hoot'?" I said it refers to something that's fun and delightful, like their CD. Turns out it's also a hoot to watch The Frank and Joe Show" itself, as I did recently at Sweet Rhythm, where it's been running for months every Sunday night. The band that evening consisted of Joe Ascione [ASH-ee-oh-nee] on djembe (a small West African drum, held between the knees), bongos, cymbal, and sundry ...read more
One reason I enjoy researching my Nite & Disks is that I get a fuller sense of what the artists are up to, since there can be a considerable difference between the archived and live versions of the same material. Sometimes it's due to various playing conditions: more or less tension, the visit (or absence) of the Muse, the moods and events of the day, the producer's opinions, the receptiveness (and manners) of the audience, a player's toothache, the quality of the sound. Sometimes it's simply that the more they perform the CD tracks, the better they get.
Perhaps something ...read more
I just love a band that grins. Like Whitney Balliett, I see jazz as the sound of surprise -- preferably a delightful one -- and I don't believe that serious music has to be made with long faces. Banda Brazil was grinning like mad the other night at the Cornelia Street Cafe, even though the six of them were crowded together on a tiny stage. In fact, two of them were actually off it, squeezed into the packed house that came to celebrate the release of Embrace: Impressions of Brazil , Dave Pietro's fifth lead CD for A-Records.
One of the primo advantages of living near New York Cityï"aside from having a front seat at the Rudy and Hillary showï"is the infinite range of jazz venues. I've climbed up to the boxes in Carnegie Hall and the nosebleed seats at the Y, and down the vertical steps to the underground Village Vanguard. I've been knee-to-knee with stone-faced tourists in the Blue Note (aka the C Note, in honor of its cover charges), where they arguably serve the worst food at the tiniest tables during the best acts in jazz. I've encountered superb music in diners, on the streets ...read more
Barbara Sfraga was finally exposed on August 26. After years of performing in wafting coverups, she wore a bustier at her CD release party, revealing a beautiful expanse of creamy skin. Matched with a floor-length, flowing skirt, her long blonde curls, and a hint of sparkle, she looked like a fairy princess. Her new exposure was also musical, for her latest CD, Under the Moon, for A440 Music Group, reveals her artistic soul more thoroughly than anything she's ever done.
In the five years since her well-received Naxos debut, Oh, What A Thrill, Sfraga has experienced a number of major ...read more
Last week I saw something that's far more common on screen than in real life: the absolute fulfillment of a dream. Nope, nobody triggered the casino lights and buzzers, got surprised by the Prize Patrol, or found Prince(ss) Charming on the Internet. This particular triumph is portable, permanent, and capable of delighting complete strangers -- Anita Brown's terrific first CD, 27 East, which emerged eight years after she morphed from veteran music teacher and first-call copyist to serious composer and bandleader. Brown wrote and arranged every track, conducting the superb Anita Brown Jazz Orchestra (ABJO) through a journey full of ...read more
As a courtesy to the hyper-busy, here's the bottom line: the performance was superb, and the CD's a killer. For details, please read on.
June 18, 2003 ~ Terell Stafford's CD release party is at Sweet Rhythm at 8; once Sweet Basil, the cozy club has thrived under new owners since last September. I decide to leave at 5, since driving around the Apple is prone to unpleasant surprises. In fact, just yesterday someone decided to contemplate (or resolve) his marital problems at the top of the Tappan Zee bridge, 280 feet over the Hudson, and they stopped ...read more
Sometimes the stars move into position, and I get to witness a performance by someone whose new CD has just arrived in my mailbox. Nite and Disk is not about which one is better" - that live vs Memorex thing. Instead, it considers how the two experiences enrich each other, broadening one's appreciation of an artist or band. Live gives you the visuals, the spontaneity, and the risk; recorded allows you to repeat the performance and savor its nuances. It's good to hear a bass solo that's free of coughs, glassware and conversation, and it's also good to watch someone ...read more
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