474

Booker T. Jones, Abdullah Ibrahim, Neil Cowley, Nils Petter Molvaer, Arve Henriksen & Dave Douglas

Martin Longley By

Sign in to view read count
Brass Ecstasy allows just what its name promises: a complete tubular blowing orgy.
Booker T. Jones

Joe's Pub

June 10, 2009

Booker T. Jones, as in Booker T. & The MGs. The quite intimate Joe's Pub is sold out, not surprisingly. This Hammond B3 organ grinder is here to push his new solo disc, Potato Hole. The album features Memphis man Jones working with The Drive-By Truckers and Neil Young, exploring his rockier, bluesier potential. Jones certainly isn't favoring the slinky soul-cruising so beloved of the MGs. He cuts a sprightly, youthful figure, seated at his old wooden-paneled keyboard, Leslie speaker whirling at his side. Most of the set concentrates on the new self-penned material, but there are still some strategically-placed old classics included from the MGs repertoire. Not least the 1962 hit "Green Onions," which arrives surprisingly early in the running order. Jones also drops in "Hip Hug-Her" and "Time Is Tight." With these oldies, it's as if time has reversed by four or five decades, recalling the distinctive MGs sound.

There's a rugged vitality to the new rockier tunes, each of them bolting out to ride through their three or four minute struttings, dotted with keyboard and twin-guitar solos that make their point with a targeted purposefulness. Joined by his much younger band, Jones probably needs fresher blooded creatures to keep pace with his own chugging enthusiasm. Even though the numbers don't feature words, they often have a narrative content that Jones explains at the outset. "She Breaks" and "Potato Hole" are prime examples, while "Native New Yorker" is given a particularly hot spot. The encore is a clumping "Get Behind The Mule," the selection of this Tom Waits song underlining Booker T.'s usual good taste in cover material.

Abdullah Ibrahim & Ekaya

Jazz Standard

June 13, 2009

Earlier in the week, Abdullah Ibrahim gave three nights of solo piano recitals at the Jazz Standard club, to reflect the release of his similarly inclined Senzo album. This was followed by another three nights with his Ekaya ensemble, who are long-established but rarely found out on the road. At the second of these sessions, an aura of calm concentration pervades. Ibrahim can appear aloof from his audience, but this is probably just his inward-looking manner, as once the music's veil has lifted, he's beaming and projecting warmth to the fully-packed tables. He remains virtually silent for the duration, so this is not a performer who's going to appeal to folks that yearn for constant commentary, inclusiveness or even full-blown wisecracks.

The whole experience of Ibrahim's music is one of complete immersion into a spiritual realm of careful mood-painting. The horn section is specifically arrayed with the purpose of making luminous brush-strokes, purposefully building up layers of warm, enfolding sound. Their solos are ranged with equality, and each front liner is highly impressive, prompting virtually compulsory applause for each tightly focused statement. Tenor man Keith Loftis, altoist Cleave Guyton, trombonist Stafford Hunter and baritone saxophonist Jason Marshall are all suitably introverted, but also harbouring hidden furnaces, occasionally opening their white hot portals wider. Ibrahim probably spoke his piece on the piano earlier on in the week, as he feels more like the magisterial composer-figure here, his solos seeming to dissolve into the complete vista of each tune. It's the horn players that are hoisting the expressive load onto the front tables. This is music that has to be savored.

The Neil Cowley Trio

Joe's Pub

June 16, 2009

In June, a clutch of British acts beamed across the Atlantic under the banner of Made In The UK, and principally alighting on the Rochester Jazz Festival. This meant that New York became an unavoidable stop-off, so The Neil Cowley Trio turned up at Joe's Pub to play an early evening set. It seems that the captive Rochester audience was both massive and massively enthusiastic, but word of this English bunch hasn't yet spread too far around Manhattan, and their mission was to scale the upward gradient of a smallish crowd. Londoner Cowley's compositions are well-equipped for such a challenge, brimming as they are with pounding hooks, forceful forward thrust and a near-minimalist attention to repetition. The pianist also leads the threesome in a typically self-conscious, uncomfortably twitchy, absurdly English sense of humor. Its American equivalent is provided by The Bad Plus, which is convenient, as they're the main source of what could be called an influence on Cowley, with their charging-buffalo approach to melody, their snagging themes and their addition of rock or pop dynamics to the effete syncopations of jazz.

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Live From The New Stone School: Brandon Ross, Wadada Leo Smith, Bill Laswell & Susie Ibarra Live From New York Live From The New Stone School: Brandon Ross, Wadada Leo...
by Martin Longley
Published: September 14, 2017
Read Creative Music Studio Spring Workshop 2017 Live From New York Creative Music Studio Spring Workshop 2017
by Martin Longley
Published: July 2, 2017
Read Hal Willner, Ex Eye, Bill Laswell, Zion 80 & Brandon Seabrook Live From New York Hal Willner, Ex Eye, Bill Laswell, Zion 80 & Brandon...
by Martin Longley
Published: July 22, 2016
Read Darius Jones, Mara Rosenbloom, Christian McBride, Tom Harrell & Leon Parker Live From New York Darius Jones, Mara Rosenbloom, Christian McBride, Tom...
by Martin Longley
Published: July 15, 2016
Read Red Hook Jazz Festival 2016 Live From New York Red Hook Jazz Festival 2016
by Martin Longley
Published: July 7, 2016
Read Barry Adamson, Michael Formanek, Elliott Sharp & Rokia Traoré Live From New York Barry Adamson, Michael Formanek, Elliott Sharp & Rokia...
by Martin Longley
Published: April 14, 2016
Read "Live From The New Stone School: Brandon Ross, Wadada Leo Smith, Bill Laswell & Susie Ibarra" Live From New York Live From The New Stone School: Brandon Ross, Wadada Leo...
by Martin Longley
Published: September 14, 2017
Read "Creative Music Studio Spring Workshop 2017" Live From New York Creative Music Studio Spring Workshop 2017
by Martin Longley
Published: July 2, 2017
Read "12 Points Festival 2017" Live Reviews 12 Points Festival 2017
by Henning Bolte
Published: August 6, 2017
Read "The Victor Wooten Trio at The Ardmore Music Hall" Live Reviews The Victor Wooten Trio at The Ardmore Music Hall
by Mike Jacobs
Published: March 14, 2017
Read "Man of the World: The Peter Green Story" DVD/Film Reviews Man of the World: The Peter Green Story
by Jim Trageser
Published: February 11, 2017
Read "Take Five with Brian Kastan" Take Five With... Take Five with Brian Kastan
by Brian Kastan
Published: March 8, 2017
Read "Orion Tango at Kung Fu Necktie" Live From Philadelphia Orion Tango at Kung Fu Necktie
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 9, 2017
Read "Jamie Saft: Jazz in the Key of Iggy" Interview Jamie Saft: Jazz in the Key of Iggy
by Luca Canini
Published: October 20, 2017

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY IT!  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.