614

February 2005

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
To a sold-out house at the 55 Bar (Jan. 7th), tenorist Chris Potter showcased his new band Underground, featuring Craig Taborn on Rhodes, Nate Smith on drums and, in a rare sideman role, Wayne Krantz on guitar. In this room, where Krantz is a weekly draw, Potter's music seemed decidedly Krantzian - raw and groove-oriented, harmonically unobvious, structured to a point but wide open for soloists. At times, Krantz and Taborn took turns covering the low end, but there was no pressure to mimic the bass function - in fact, the group seemed to argue for a new kind of spaciousness in edgy, groove-based improvisation. As Potter blew, Krantz and Taborn would engage in tag-team staccato riffing as taut as an archer's bow, creating staggering intensity at a fairly low volume. Other times they'd play nothing, allowing Potter and Smith to spar in another direction. (Cecil Taylor, at the end of the bar, seemed impressed by Taborn's solos.) With his stomp boxes, Krantz called forth a metallic, percussive sound that he's used in his own music, but that also recalled the semi-electronic tweaking Kevin Hays dished out on Potter's 2004 live release Lift. Underground may be a departure for Potter, but there are certain continuities with the past.

For the wheelchair-bound Shirley Horn, two weeks at Le Jazz Au Bar had to have been a Herculean effort (Verve recorded the second week for a May release). After losing a foot to diabetes she is back to playing piano, with a custom-enlarged sustain pedal. Despite being a bit scattered on January 8 (flubbing lyrics, needing a mid-set break), Horn was able to transcend her infirmity and show why her name is often preceded by the words "the legendary." Bassist Ed Howard and drummer Steve Williams stuck with her patiently, illuminating her trademark slow tempos on tunes like "Lush Life" and "For All We Know," swinging with her heartily on "A Foggy Day" and "End of a Beautiful Friendship." Horn can convey a world of emotion with an offhanded chuckle, hinting at lighthearted self-mockery on a love song or marveling at a serendipitous phrase during a piano solo. Although there were problems in execution, the intent behind her segue from "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen" into "What a Wonderful World" was astounding. Au Bar can feel remarkably cramped (and they tack on 20 percent for service that's worth about 10), but seeing Horn in close quarters is actually the way to go.

~ David Adler


The second week of January was one of phenomenal piano trios. Within two-night's time were pianists Harold Mabern (Smith's) and Joe Sample (mid-residency at Blue Note), as well as Randy Weston (Jazz Standard) and Borah Bergman (Tonic) each performing in rare trio outings. However, Frank Kimbrough's (with bassist Ben Allison and drummer Matt Wilson) - one of the most subtle and challenging while swinging and accessible working threesomes - stole the spotlight for their single-night at Sweet Rhythm (Jan. 12th). The three top-notch improvisers moved as one for two sets, from their off-beat yet rhythmic take on Herbie Nichols' "Wildflower" and the "Money Jungle"-like Kimbrough-penned Gil Evans tribute "Svengali", to the title track of their most recent recording, Lullabluebye (Palmetto). Their triangular interplay was telepathic throughout the second set, from each tune's thematic development to their explorations, especially within the nicely selected standard material. Jerome Kern's "Long Ago and Far Way" and Thelonious Monk's "Coming on the Hudson" ceaselessly morphed and grew to new melodic, harmonic and rhythmic heights. Never a monotonous moment, they embellished without hesitation, thrusting momentum forward with occasional collective pauses allowing for single notes or beats to breathe just long enough to add an ever-elastic tension upon release. Creativity: noticeably at the heart of this ever-musical, dynamic, and underrated trio.


Tags

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 "Dai Liang, aka A Bu: Beijing Prodigy" Under the Radar Dai Liang, aka A Bu: Beijing Prodigy
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 17, 2016
Read "Phil Barnes' Best Releases of 2016" Best of / Year End Phil Barnes' Best Releases of 2016
by Phil Barnes
Published: December 30, 2016
Read "The Beatles: Eight Days A Week - The Touring Years" DVD/Film Reviews The Beatles: Eight Days A Week - The Touring Years
by Doug Collette
Published: November 20, 2016
Read "Lwanda Gogwana: Tradition and Innovation" Interview Lwanda Gogwana: Tradition and Innovation
by Seton Hawkins
Published: September 9, 2017
Read "2016: The Year in Jazz" Best of / Year End 2016: The Year in Jazz
by Ken Franckling
Published: January 2, 2017
Read "Take Five with Jared Pauley" Take Five With... Take Five with Jared Pauley
by Jared Pauley
Published: November 16, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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