521

January 2005

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
The Lower East Side's Issue Project Room hosted Elliott Sharp's premier solo acoustic guitar performance project of Thelonious Monk compositions on Dec. 10th. One of few guitar players devoted to helping free the instrument from respective genre-related gimmicks and listener expectations, Sharp slyly presented Monk themes by either taking the liberty to venture from any semblance of the original or by frequently returning to Monk's musical and compositional stamps. Even Sharp's complex and usually inaccessible eccentricities were reeled in by Monk's immediately recognizable tunes long enough to give listeners something to grasp onto, using the themes either as a foundation in "Bemsha Swing", or springboard as in "Epistrophy". The familiar theme of the former was given a bluesy acoustic finger-picked treatment utilizing Sharp's characteristic experimentalist touch. Sharp's unorthodox two-handed techniques through "Epistrophy" transformed the guitar into a percussive instrument, while the extended Monk medley ("Round Midnight"-"Misterioso"-"Nutty"-"Well, You Needn't") featured introductory bent string single-notes resulting in twisted reverberations. The patiently executed opening summoned firefly-like sparks and resonated with mood-inducing overtones from Sharp's strings courtesy of his EBow oscillator gadget. Sharp proves that Monk was one of jazz' greatest experimentalists and that his work continues to spur on unique interpretations, and not only by pianists.

Pianist Cyrus Chestnut's trio of Michael Hawkins (bass) and Neal Smith (drums) played to two week's-worth of sold-out crowds at the new Dizzy's Club to wind down the end of one year and the beginning of the next, the latter of the two featuring legendary alto player Frank Morgan and trumpeter Marcus Printup. On Dec.29th, the trio opened the first set (sans horns) with a blistering display of virtuosity through the standard, "East of the Sun" and a ballad drenched in blues, particularly from the leader who revealed a perhaps not-so obvious influence in Bud Powell, while the trio performed as a single moving unit, doing away with solos, each member helping to push the music forward without drawing too much attention to themselves. Hawkins and Smith showed enough creativity not to have to resort to being mere backdrops to the leader (the billing should certainly have had their names listed but was instead the "Cyrus Chestnut Trio" strangely).

Smith - who recently and simultaneously released his first 2 CDs as leader - particularly shined on "Lighthearted Intelligence", taking an unaccompanied drum solo that showed an energetic drive and colorful pallet of sounds and rhythms, both on brushes and sticks. After the fourth number, a piano solo feature, Morgan and Printup arrived onstage, creating a swinging quintet in the vein of the club's namesake and the many historic trumpet/alto pairings both Dizzy and Morgan have participated. Morgan, a "storyteller" (in Cyrus' words), delivered a timeless tone on alto, taking one's ears back to the roots of bebop and cool. Along with Chestnut, he sang the blues via his horn on "Prelude to a Kiss", an extraordinary and emotional performance. You knew you were witnessing one of the horn's true living greats with but the first note he carefully blew with intentional fragility and breath. The quintet ended the evening with a rendition of the classic "Lover" which began as a Hawkins-Morgan duo before morphing into a piano-less quintet, then a trumpet quartet (sans Morgan), providing for a multi-textural interpretation and performance soaked in spontaneity, true to the art form - not to mention the spirit - of jazz.

~ Laurence Donohue-Greene


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

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 Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Kassé Mady Diabaté, George Coleman & Tedeschi Trucks Band Live From New York Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Kassé Mady...
by Martin Longley
Published: October 20, 2015
Read CocoRosie, Dastan Ensemble, Arto Lindsay, Chick Corea, Béla Fleck, John Hammond, G.Love & Trio 3 Live From New York CocoRosie, Dastan Ensemble, Arto Lindsay, Chick Corea,...
by Martin Longley
Published: October 12, 2015
Read "Red Hook Jazz Festival 2016" Live From New York Red Hook Jazz Festival 2016
by Martin Longley
Published: July 7, 2016
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 "Art Pepper: Presents “West Coast Sessions” Volumes 3 & 4" Bailey's Bundles Art Pepper: Presents “West Coast Sessions”...
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: June 22, 2017
Read "Jim Ridl: Door in a Field V2, Songs of the Green River" Extended Analysis Jim Ridl: Door in a Field V2, Songs of the Green River
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: October 17, 2016
Read "Generation Next: Four Voices From Seattle" Interview Generation Next: Four Voices From Seattle
by Paul Rauch
Published: June 19, 2017
Read "Larry Coryell: Free Spirit and Pioneer" Jazz Raconteurs Larry Coryell: Free Spirit and Pioneer
by Steve Khan
Published: February 28, 2017
Read "Mark Sullivan's Best Releases of 2016" Best of / Year End Mark Sullivan's Best Releases of 2016
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 9, 2016
Read "Mark Corroto's Best Releases of 2016" Best of / Year End Mark Corroto's Best Releases of 2016
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 16, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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