April 2010

AAJ Staff By

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Myron Walden

Jazz Standard

New York, NY March 9, 2010

One of saxophonist Myron Walden's four new albums this year is called To Feel and, indeed, if a single quality stands out in Walden's music, it is deep and palpable feeling, a big emotional sweep carried off with great finesse by his quintet In This World. In their second set at Jazz Standard (Mar. 9th), Walden and the group drew on music from the ballad-centric To Feel and its sister release, What We Share, which offers a bit more juice in terms of tempo. Known for years as a scorching altoist in the Brian Blade Fellowship and other bands, Walden has reasserted himself as a tenor player and his rich, unhurried voice on the instrument suited this music's enveloping harmonic warmth, brought out by Fellowship band mate Jon Cowherd on Rhodes and Mike Moreno on guitar. "In This World," a tone poem with no solos, opened the show and set a prevailing mood of contemplation. Bassist Yasushi Nakamura struck a powerful rapport with the drummer—none other than Brian Blade—and introduced "Tama," an affecting minor-key waltz, with a huge bluesy intro. Moreno did not loom large as a soloist, but his acoustic guitar on "I Believe" and "Gone But Not Forgotten" (the latter a duo with Walden on bass clarinet) added dimension to the set. Two soprano sax features, including "In Search of the Lost City," pushed the improvising to a higher level. When Walden got going, his pockmarked, battle-scarred sound contrasted vividly with the music's overriding cushiony texture.

Denman Maroney


New York City

March 11, 2010

The "hyperpiano" music of Denman Maroney requires a bit of explanation, which is why Maroney prefaced his quintet gig at Roulette (Mar. 11th) with a word on the meaning of Udentity, the title of his latest release on Clean Feed. Coined by Harry Partch, the term relates to the inverse of overtones or "undertones," a descending series that generates its own rhythmic implications—what Maroney calls "pulse fields." From this, Maroney has derived a compositional method, a language of intricate criss-crossing rhythms, daunting tests of concentration but far from dry-sounding exercises. The loping counterintuitive flow bore some resemblance to recent Henry Threadgill. Complicating things further was the hyperpiano, a discipline in which the piano interior is not simply 'prepared' but actually played, using various implements of metal, rubber and plastic. When reedist Ned Rothenberg, trumpeter Dave Ballou, bassist Reuben Radding and drummer Michael Sarin reached full volume, the subtler hyperpiano sounds had to fight to be heard. But in quieter passages one could hear a vocabulary reminiscent of horns and bowed instruments—false-fingering effects, bent notes, infinite ringing sustain (conventional piano played a role as well). Despite the abundance of prescribed material, this was no doubt an improvising band, with an array of woodwind and brass colors on hand and an eagerness to take Udentity's seven movements and stretch them out.

—David R. Adler

Vision Collaboration Nights

14th Street Y

New York, NY

March 3, 2010

The annual Vision Collaboration nights are a smaller scale affair than the summer festival, designed to spotlight the dancers, even if it is often the accompanists attracting the same audience of jazz fans. But this year represented something else as well, the return to the stage of dancer Miriam Parker after a home accident landed her in the hospital for serious burns. She danced in one of the five sets on Mar. 3rd, the first of five evenings at the 14th Street Y, alongside Henry Grimes' bass and violin and Jo Wood-Brown's effective video projection and stage installation. The night opened with a first meeting between dancer Mario Zambrano and Cooper-Moore on mouth bow. Zambrano—tattooed and in pinstripe pants and knit hat—embodied a mix of masculinity and wonder and Cooper-Moore's scrapes and vowel iterations gave voice to the dancer's searching in a circle. Dancer Jason Jordan brought a series of archetypes to the stage, beginning in street clothes and oversize headphones, performing an epileptic boogie oblivious to Joe McPhee's soft trumpet and changing costumes and guise onstage until ending with a Bob Fosse prance, meeting the jazzman at last. The Parker/Grimes collaboration unfolded slowly, with an uncertainty that was effective as performance and nothing in her movement revealed physical limitations. Improvisation and first meetings understandably result in a portrayal of discovery and Parker's deliberate explorations delivered that with grace.

International Contemporary Ensemble

Le Poisson Rouge

New York City

March 16, 2010


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