Make a difference: Support jazz online

Support All About Jazz Your friends at All About Jazz are looking for readers to help back our website upgrade project. Of critical importance, this project will result in a vastly improved design across all devices and will make future All About Jazz projects much easier to implement. Click here to learn more about this project including donation rewards.

4

Gerald Cleaver & Uncle June: Detroit Jazz Festival, September 2, 2012

Steve Bryant By

Sign in to view read count
Gerald Cleaver & Uncle June
Detroit Jazz Festival
Detroit, MI
September 2, 2012

The 2012 Detroit Jazz Fest had one of the best lineups in years, especially for fans of the mainstream headliners. However, for those who like their music adventurous and intrepid, it wasn't that type of party. The one standout act, though, was Detroit drummer Gerald Cleaver, who was part of a crew of young guns from the Motor City who have since gone on to put their mark on the New York, and world, jazz scenes. Ever since he was at the University of Michigan, Cleaver has been creating his own musical pathways, something that has put him in good standing in New York City progressive circles.

For this date Cleaver brought his aggregation, Uncle June, to perform music from Be It As I See It (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2011), a somewhat autobiographical work which evokes the Great Migration from the South as well as personal vignettes from his childhood. Cleaver's vision is so vast and encompassing that he requires a large group of collaborators to help him express it. For this date, Cleaver brought the whole crew out; an aggregation of downtown heavy-hitters which included Andrew Bishop and Tony Malaby on reeds, Matt Maneri on viola, pianist and longtime U of M crime partner Craig Taborn, Drew Gress on bass, and Ryan MacStaller on guitar.

Cleaver started the set with "Charles Street Quotidian," a wide-sweeping tapestry of sound and color which started off with a subtle yet looming ostinato by the rhythm section, and a flourish of sound swirls by Malaby. The piece continued with an evocatively lyrical clarinet solo by Bishop as well as a thunderous infusion of sound by pianist Taborn, whose looming virtuosity has been a force to be reckoned with since he left the Motor City in the 90's.

The next tune, "Fence and Post," was a suite dedicated to Cleaver's parents John and Mary. The first movement "To Love" was one of those "downtown" pieces which blended spoken word and intense musical passages from guitarist MacStaller, whose use of the "fuzz" brought to mind Bill Frisell. The next movement featured a blistering solo by Malaby on tenor. The last movement was a salute to the Detroit bop tradition with an appropriately burning run by Malaby.

The most interesting moments came when Uncle June performed "He Said." A conceptual mix of music and word which included an exchange between the recorded voice of Cleaver's grandfather and vocalist Jean Carla Rodea. Even though Cleaver's music is challenging to the casual ear, it was the most rewarding set of the weekend and definitely appreciated by Cleaver's hometown fans.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read NYC Winter Jazzfest 2018 - The Friday Marathon Live Reviews NYC Winter Jazzfest 2018 - The Friday Marathon
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: January 22, 2018
Read Nels and Alex Cline at The Jazz Bakery Live Reviews Nels and Alex Cline at The Jazz Bakery
by Jonathan Manning
Published: January 22, 2018
Read David Lyttle & Andreas Varady at Bennigans Jazz Club Live Reviews David Lyttle & Andreas Varady at Bennigans Jazz Club
by Ian Patterson
Published: January 22, 2018
Read Never Alone: Reflections on the 2018 Winter Jazzfest Live Reviews Never Alone: Reflections on the 2018 Winter Jazzfest
by Tyran Grillo
Published: January 21, 2018
Read Tierney Sutton Band at the Newman Center Live Reviews Tierney Sutton Band at the Newman Center
by Geoff Anderson
Published: January 21, 2018
Read Vorcza at Nectar's Live Reviews Vorcza at Nectar's
by Doug Collette
Published: January 20, 2018
Read "European Jazz Conference 2017" Live Reviews European Jazz Conference 2017
by Ian Patterson
Published: October 2, 2017
Read "Instant Composers Pool at The MAC" Live Reviews Instant Composers Pool at The MAC
by Ian Patterson
Published: November 8, 2017
Read "Los Angeles Guitar Quartet's European Debut of Pat Metheny Commission Highlights Uppsala International Guitar Festival" Live Reviews Los Angeles Guitar Quartet's European Debut of Pat...
by John Ephland
Published: November 1, 2017
Read "Bob Niederriter Trio At The Bop Stop" Live Reviews Bob Niederriter Trio At The Bop Stop
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: October 9, 2017
Read "Gary Peacock Trio at the Regattabar Jazz Club" Live Reviews Gary Peacock Trio at the Regattabar Jazz Club
by Nat Seelen
Published: December 27, 2017
Read "Miles Electric Band at Koerner Hall" Live Reviews Miles Electric Band at Koerner Hall
by Alain Londes
Published: October 28, 2017