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

Edgefest 2017: Give the Drummers Some, Part 1-2

Troy Dostert By

Sign in to view read count
Finishing out the first night was the trio of drummer Pheeroan akLaff, bassist Julian Thayer, and multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire Scott Robinson. With characteristic warmth and geniality, akLaff explained in his opening remarks that the idea behind the group's music was to "strengthen unity and purpose to bring peace to the planet," and he dedicated the performance to sculptor Rob Fisher, someone he honored as having been a partner and mentor to all three musicians. There was an innate spirituality to the group's music. Starting with Robinson's long, almost sub-audible notes on contrabass saxophone, the trio started in a meditative vein but gradually raised the intensity level, as Robinson's expanding phrases and explorations of the lower register of the instrument generated momentum. The group seemed most at home in a loose, free-bop context, with abundant opportunities for Robinson to stretch out on his panoply of instruments: in addition to his contrabass and tenor saxophones, he made especially memorable use of a theremin, where his otherworldly excursions took the music into another dimension altogether. But when all was said and done, Robinson's far-ranging facility was perhaps most convincing on tenor: when he got especially revved-up during one of his more invigorating solos, it brought the house down.

Thursday night's programming represented the wide gamut of stylistic approaches for which Edgefest has become justly celebrated. Drummer Jonathan Taylor brought his quintet of Detroit-based musicians to kick things off with a flourish, as the group's heady and challenging compositions struck a balance between form and freedom. Double-threat Molly Jones, who played both soprano and tenor sax, made a terrific two-horn team with tenorist Marcus Elliot, as the pair frequently alternated between fiery surges and soulful interludes. Reminiscent of the inside/outside approach of some of the classic Black Saint label's releases from the 80s and 90s, this was music for both head and heart, always with a bluesy sensibility even during the more adventurous moments of the music. Taylor brought plenty of high-energy technique to his kit, but he always managed to stay in sync with his excellent rhythm team of bassist Jaribu Shahid... and pianist Michael Malis.

With his forceful, percussive piano style, Malis put in quite a workout with Taylor's band, yet he apparently had plenty of energy left in reserve, as he shared the next set with the indomitable William Hooker for a jaw-dropping display of improvisational power. Hooker seemed to invite the audience into the performance by walking down the aisle and shaking hands with those he could reach while on his way to the stage, in a sign that something extraordinary was about to happen. Then, using a John Lomax field recording of an Alabama prison work song as a catalyst, he and Malis launched into a number of freewheeling improvisations that harnessed the emotional power of the recording while simultaneously redirecting it. Shouting "Let's Not Forget!" repeatedly at the outset, it was clear that Hooker had weighty matters on his mind—and he played like it, with periodic outbursts and exclamations to spur Malis and himself to greater heights. With a fusillade of intensity, Hooker seemed at times to push his kit to the limits, with Malis matching his vigor with each strike of the toms. Malis has a strong classical sensibility behind much of his playing, but his more untethered statements revealed a barely-controlled fury; combined with Hooker's impassioned and relentless attacks, the result was one of the festival's most riveting and overpowering performances.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Tallinn Music Week 2018 Live Reviews
Tallinn Music Week 2018
by Henning Bolte
Published: April 19, 2018
Read James Blood Ulmer and the Thing at Bochum Art Museum Live Reviews
James Blood Ulmer and the Thing at Bochum Art Museum
by Phillip Woolever
Published: April 17, 2018
Read Jocelyn Medina at Jazz at Kitano Live Reviews
Jocelyn Medina at Jazz at Kitano
by Tyran Grillo
Published: April 16, 2018
Read Marbin at The Firmament Live Reviews
Marbin at The Firmament
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 15, 2018
Read Big Ears Festival 2018 Live Reviews
Big Ears Festival 2018
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 13, 2018
Read Meg Morley Trio at 606 Club Live Reviews
Meg Morley Trio at 606 Club
by Gareth Thomas
Published: April 13, 2018
Read "Bob James Trio with Randy Brecker at the Blue Note" Live Reviews Bob James Trio with Randy Brecker at the Blue Note
by Tyran Grillo
Published: August 21, 2017
Read "Joseph Leighton Trio at Jazzhole" Live Reviews Joseph Leighton Trio at Jazzhole
by Ian Patterson
Published: July 4, 2017
Read "Pat Martino at Dazzle" Live Reviews Pat Martino at Dazzle
by Douglas Groothuis
Published: September 2, 2017
Read "Miles Electric Band at Koerner Hall" Live Reviews Miles Electric Band at Koerner Hall
by Alain Londes
Published: October 28, 2017
Read "Curtis Brothers At Scullers" Live Reviews Curtis Brothers At Scullers
by Steve Provizer
Published: February 28, 2018
Read "Anat Cohen at Davidson College" Live Reviews Anat Cohen at Davidson College
by Perry Tannenbaum
Published: April 27, 2017