All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Live Reviews

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

3

Art Lillard's Heavenly Big Band at the New York City Baha’i Center

Tyran Grillo By

Sign in to view read count
Art Lillard's Heavenly Big Band
New York City Baha'i Center
New York, NY
August 22, 2017

In this teetering age in which we live, where one wrong move might tip an edge too far in one direction, drummer/composer Art Lillard and his "Heavenly Big Band" stand firmly toward the center, finding balance in more than just a solid groove or memorable lick. Rather, Lillard understands that sharing music needn't be political, fiercely philosophical, or abstract, and proves that bringing a little positivity out into the open is nevertheless a formidable task, as attested by the obvious dedication flowing in the veins of his musicians.

All of this was on full display in an intimate concert put on at the New York City Baha'i Center, where Lillard and his crew danced through a decalogue of standards and originals. On the latter front, Lillard peppered the set list with a variety of personal expressions: the slick old-school energy of "Brooke's Dream Gift" (a delightful showpiece that fronted tenorist Boris Kurganov), the uplifting "Happy Blues" (with a punchy solo from trumpeter James Smith), and the band's theme song, "Heavenly," the luscious groove of which gets me every time.

Other highlights on the instrumental front included the Kent Glenn tune "Brushese," which sailed through its changes behind closed eyes, marking time by chromatic exchanges between flutist Lou Caputo, altoist Frank Perowsky, and guitarist Andrew Baird. Matthew Gee's "Oh Gee" was another memorable turn, especially for an expository solo by trombonist James Borowski.

The evening's most enjoyable portions, however, were to be found in the handful of songs performed by vocalist Andrea Wolper, whose straightforward touch brought needed lift to such tried-and-true favorites as "Slow Boat to China," "The Girl from Ipanema," and "The Lady is a Tramp." With plenty of sunshine to spare, she and the band bounced their way from one gem to another, leaving a glittering trail in their wake. Most memorable was their take on "Just Friends," which in a uniquely downtempo arrangement breathed with fresh emotional impact. Along the way, the band gave up a wealth of fabulous solos, most notably in the flute playing of Carol Sudhalter amid the romping humor of "Fried Bananas."

In terms of style, presentation, and creativity, Lillard is a class act in the truest sense of the term, one who lives up to his first name with ease. And if you're ever in New York City and have a chance to catch him in any context, be sure to pack an extra smile. You're going to need it.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read The Magpie Salute At The Grand Point North Festival 2018 Live Reviews
The Magpie Salute At The Grand Point North Festival 2018
by Doug Collette
Published: September 23, 2018
Read Chris Isaak at The Paramount in Huntington, NY Live Reviews
Chris Isaak at The Paramount in Huntington, NY
by Christine Connallon
Published: September 23, 2018
Read Detroit Jazz Festival 2018 Live Reviews
Detroit Jazz Festival 2018
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: September 19, 2018
Read Beethoven, Barber and Vivaldi at The Jazz Corner Live Reviews
Beethoven, Barber and Vivaldi at The Jazz Corner
by Martin McFie
Published: September 18, 2018
Read Bryan Ferry at the Macedonian Philharmonic Hall, Macedonia 2018 Live Reviews
Bryan Ferry at the Macedonian Philharmonic Hall, Macedonia...
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: September 16, 2018
Read Live From Birmingham: Dinosaur, Meatraffle, Hollywood Vampires, Black Asteroids & Paul Lamb Live Reviews
Live From Birmingham: Dinosaur, Meatraffle, Hollywood...
by Martin Longley
Published: September 16, 2018
Read "Oslo Jazz Festival 2018" Live Reviews Oslo Jazz Festival 2018
by John Sharpe
Published: August 29, 2018
Read "Jocelyn Medina at Jazz at Kitano" Live Reviews Jocelyn Medina at Jazz at Kitano
by Tyran Grillo
Published: April 16, 2018