Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!


Hard Boppin' at Smalls

Dave Kaufman By

Sign in to view read count
Smalls Jazz Club in Greenwich Village is a remarkably vibrant music venue that enjoys considerable international renown. It is not the most mannered of clubs with loud and boisterous audiences. Nor is it the most decorous, but does offer a rather distinctive look. The club has a great vibe and is committed to treating its audience to a great and generous music experience. For example, on weekends, the first shows commence at 4 PM and end with jam sessions at 4 AM. I was fortunate to catch the last two sets on a Saturday night beginning at midnight. They featured two tenor titans, Walt Weiskopf and Eric Wyatt. Both have had lengthy and varied careers. Weiskopf is perhaps best known as a touring member of Steely Dan. He also has released numerous CDs as a leader and has distinguished himself as a sideman in multiple contexts. Eric Wyatt has gained international attention (especially in Southeast Asia where he has performed numerous times) as a performer and bandleader. Recently, he was a featured performer at a Sonny Rollins tribute in Purchase, NY (organized by Jon Faddis) along with tenor greats such as Jimmy Heath, Joe Lovano and Ravi Coltrane. Eric will be the subject of a forthcoming Jazz Raconteurs article. Both Weiskopf and Wyatt are formidable saxophonists with pronounced Coltrane/Rollins influences and talents deserving wider recognition. On this occasion, both led quartets with remarkably dynamic rhythm sections.

Weiskopf's Quartet featured Ugonna Okegwo on bass, Peter Zak on piano and Jason Tiemann on drums. The highlight of the show was a great version of "Gates of Madrid," a Weiskopf composition that appeared on his Open Road CD (2014). It has a melodic line similar to the great Blue Note recordings of the 1960s and particularly reminiscent of Wayne Shorter's compositions of that era as C. Andrew Hovan notes in his review of the album. I was unfamiliar with Tieman, but was impressed by his vigorous presence throughout the set.

Wyatt's group included longtime sideman Tyler Mitchell on bass, Bruce Cox on drums and Victor Gould on piano. Eric often features great up-and-coming pianists in his group including Benito Gonzalez (his regular pianist) and Sullivan Fortner. Victor Gould, a regular member of Wallace Roney's group is a dynamic young player of a growing stature and was in great form on this occasion. The group tore the cover off the classic Joe Henderson composition "Inner Urge." The lengthy rendition featured solos by each of the musicians and some notable exchanges between Wyatt and Gould. Another highlight was a beautiful and somewhat up-tempo version of a beautiful ballad by Bobby Hutcherson's "Little B's Poem." Cox and Mitchell played with great exuberance and were clearly having a great time. Their joyousness was infectious.

The photos in this series draws primarily from these performances. I also included several images of great jazz artists who have played Smalls with some regularity in prior years.
View in Slideshow


comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read 2017 Jazz in the Valley Jazz Festival In Pictures 2017 Jazz in the Valley Jazz Festival
by Richard Conde
Published: December 6, 2017
Read 14. Jazztopad 2017 In Pictures 14. Jazztopad 2017
by Nazim Can Isik
Published: November 29, 2017
Read Kneebody at Jazzmi festival in Milan In Pictures Kneebody at Jazzmi festival in Milan
by Roberto Cifarelli
Published: November 23, 2017
Read Enrico Rava Tribe Quintet at the Folkclub In Pictures Enrico Rava Tribe Quintet at the Folkclub
by Antonio Baiano
Published: November 19, 2017
Read "The Jazzmeia Horn 5tet at Cooper Hewitt Museum" In Pictures The Jazzmeia Horn 5tet at Cooper Hewitt Museum
by Adrien H. Tillmann
Published: August 21, 2017
Read "Paolo Fresu at the Magister Giotto in Venice" In Pictures Paolo Fresu at the Magister Giotto in Venice
by Daniele Franchi
Published: October 25, 2017
Read "Umbria Jazz 2017" In Pictures Umbria Jazz 2017
by Andrea Rotili
Published: July 26, 2017
Read "Jazz at the Nash Volume 2: Roots in AZ" In Pictures Jazz at the Nash Volume 2: Roots in AZ
by Dave Kaufman
Published: September 14, 2017
Read "Chamoisic Festival VIII Edition" In Pictures Chamoisic Festival VIII Edition
by Antonio Baiano
Published: October 29, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!