Winter Jazzfest, New York City, Day 2: January 8, 2011

Winter Jazzfest, New York City, Day 2: January 8, 2011
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Day 1 | Day 2

Winter Jazzfest
New York, NY
January 7-8, 2011


Kirk Knuffke Quartet

Trumpeter Kirk Knuffke
Kirk Knuffke
Kirk Knuffke

trumpet
certainly has an enthusiasm for the "hot" jazz of the 1920's, even if it isn't straight from the source. Knuffke's quartet—co-fronted by trombonist Brian Drye
Brian Drye
Brian Drye
b.1975
trombone
, and backed by bassist Mark Helias
Mark Helias
Mark Helias

bass, acoustic
and drummer Jeff Davis
Jeff Davis
Jeff Davis
b.1952
drums
—demonstrated the rollicking playfulness of Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong
1901 - 1971
trumpet
's early groups, and Knuffke's robust trumpet tone, coupled with the Drye's expressive, occasionally wah-wah'ed playing, certainly lent credit to the New Orleans masters. However, his quartet is, in actuality, a third reiteration of the group's raw, improvised brass sound; the second being the work of soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy
Steve Lacy
Steve Lacy
1934 - 2004
sax, soprano
, to whom Knuffke paid tribute during last summer's Undead Jazz Festival. Knuffke's quartet is part of a post-Lacy generation that embraces the wryness and musical theatrics of the New Orleans sound, much like its contemporaries, Mostly Other People Do the Killing.

At its Kenny's Castaways show, the quartet also delved into a good deal of intricate writing and delightful anachronisms. Knuffke showed phenomenal technique, capable of switching into modern language at the drop of a hat. Drye's playing became raucous and harmonically adventurous, but never lost that Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
1899 - 1974
piano
-ian spirit. Helias and Davis were more than happy to oblige the horns their slightly manic swing but, when providing a hip-hop based backbeat, the paradox was appreciated. Knuffke's band knew exactly where it came from in the lineage of history, and honored that connection even further by creating exciting, honest music in the creative process.


Jamie Baum Septet

Jamie Baum
Jamie Baum
Jamie Baum

flute
is one the few New York-based musicians who makes a name and a career primarily as a flautist. Whereas other reed players usually have the instrument as a member of their arsenal, Baum performs with hers as a primary axe. At her Bitter End performance, Baum's septet was flanked by some of New York's finest musicians, including guitarist Brad Shepik
Brad Shepik
Brad Shepik

guitar
and pianist Kevin Hays
Kevin Hays
Kevin Hays
b.1968
keyboard
. Hays was one of the many musicians throughout the festival playing Fender Rhodes and, though at the time it may have seemed like a equipment and/or venue based choice, the prevalence of the Rhodes as an artistic choice at the Winter Jazz Festival could not be understated.

Baum's music was mostly based around groove and rhythmic exposition. Her set opener had a playful feel that evoked images of running, unfolding like the opening of a film score. Baum's music liked to hold a center and deviate where necessary—the melody appearing and staying constant, but with the harmony changing underneath. A tune would be set in a complicated time signature like 10/8, but the soloists, particularly trumpet player Taylor Haskins
Taylor Haskins
Taylor Haskins
b.1971
trumpet
, would maintain their melodic integrity. Baum's compositions also drew from personal experiences and programmatic writing. "The Monkeys of Gorkana" was meant to evoke a spooky feeling of extremely dark and treacherous woods and used turbulent horn lines and spooky ostinatos to convey the appropriate feeling of dread.

Bad Touch

Arriving at the Bad Touch
Bad Touch

band/orchestra
's Kenny's Castaways set during the second half of its performance, the group had already worked itself into a controlled frenzy. Guitarist Nate Radley
Nate Radley

guitar
and organist Gary Versace
Gary Versace
Gary Versace

organ, Hammond B3
were providing a pulsating, hard-driving rock feel underneath alto saxophonist Loren Stillman
Loren Stillman
Loren Stillman
b.1980
sax, alto
, along with the persistent support of drummer Ted Poor
Ted Poor
Ted Poor

drums
. The groove of the three rhythm section players was dominant and fighting for superiority, but it was the timbre of the group that lent it its depth; the echo of the organ and the ping of the electric guitar joining with the resonance of Stillman's alto to create a robust, almost alien sound.

Stillman played all over the horn, bending his solo flourishes upwards with a fluttery tone. Radley and Versace—who, in other contexts, have both shown a sense of melodic subtlety—exhibited a sense of fire and reckless abandon. Versace, who in certain instances sounded as if he was playing accordion voicings on the keyboard (he's known for his accordion work with artists like Maria Schneider
Maria Schneider
Maria Schneider

band/orchestra
, moved constantly upwards atop Poor's stuttering drum beats. It was a deliberately intense, deliberately ferocious brand of music that could be labeled "grad school badassery."


Andrew D'Angelo's AGOGIC

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