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!

531

J.D. Allen, Joel Harrison, Mats Gustafsson/Thurston Moore, Steve Reid, Joey Calderazzo & Eddie Palmieri

Martin Longley By

Sign in to view read count
In person, [J.D.] Allen rams the breath out of his audience, winding them with a reeling display of sheer professionalism, blooded by a completely uncompromising attention to visceral spontaneity.
JD Allen/Gregg August/Rudy Royston

Smoke

January 26, 2009

Smoke is a cosily atmospheric haunt that's removed from the downtown jazz club heartland, though a Broadway location on the Upper West Side still makes for a convenient subway ride. The place is smaller than might be imagined, possessing only a few rows of tables and a wall-length bar, all focused on the compact stage, its sound emanating into a room that boasts an excellent acoustic warmth. So, some of the battle is already won when the Detroit-born tenor man J.D. Allen hits the stage, accompanied by bassist Gregg August and drummer Rudy Royston. This is the same team that recorded the award-winning I Am I Am in 2008. They're previewing material that is featured on the soon-coming Shine album, though presumably this disc will have individual titles and track demarcations.

In person, Allen rams the breath out of his audience, winding them with a reeling display of sheer professionalism, blooded by a completely uncompromising attention to visceral spontaneity. Over the course of two sets, the trio refuses to pause between compositions, or talk to the audience. There's no time for such niceties when there's hard-blowin' to be done. The scope of this trio's invention is enthralling. Even though the sonic formula doesn't alter much, mainly taken at high-density, in full-tilt, the vibrant relationship between the threesome never allows repetition to enter the proceedings. Allen's toughened solos are so electric that he impels a constant interest in his grapplings, his thorny, even old-fashioned, tone organically welcoming as opposed to studiedly academic. The second set does indeed benefit from a break. Some time to reflect on the passing storm, and gird the body for the next onslaught. As expected, a further uninterrupted gush doesn't fall prey to any flagging, and the soloing individuality of August and Royston is sufficient to compete with their leader's, creating a strengthened triangle of stormy perseverance. Allen is usually the focus, but his partners are almost his equals, making this a democracy that's won through fisticuffs.

Joel Harrison

Merkin Concert Hall

January 29, 2009

At first, this gig comes across as one of those composition-commissioning gumbos, with no clear focus and a glut of various performers, a concert with the title Vox Americana, which essentially revolves around the writing of singer-guitarist Joel Harrison. Some sort of grappling-handle does become available as the two halves progress, but the program suffers from too much ambition, and too many idea-manifestations crammed into one evening. The first guest is Oliver Lake, who turns his planned saxophone solo into a poetry reading, opening the way for Vox Americana itself, a suite for seven players which utilizes fragments of recorded text. The message is broadly political but diffused into general, abstract snatches which lend an aura of protest without being particularly targeted. Sonically, these bursts sit uncomfortably on top of the music—sometimes too loud; at others submerged in the mix. Lake is the guest, but his soloing is underused, with fellow altoman David Binney snatching at least as much time under the spotlight. Towards the end, Harrison decides to deliver a folksy vocal, an act which compounds the feeling that he's cramming all of his versatile wares into the show. A feeling of tension pervades, and there's a sense that the players have not yet fully grasped the score.

Following the intermission, and perhaps sensing that the evening is becoming overcrowded, Lake aborts his planned solo piece, and Wendy Sutter gives the world premiere of Harrison's "Sonata For Solo Cello." The composer views this as a "meditation on mortality," inspired by the passing of his father at the beginning of 2008. It's a starkly atmospheric work, with Sutter mulling over every groan and grain, leaving plenty of space around her emphatic strokes. This piece is followed by the evening's best section in an already improved second set. Harrison has arranged a sequence of tunes penned by, or associated with, the drummer Paul Motian, cleverly retaining his character but also imposing the nuances made by a highly sensitized String Choir. There's an attractive contrast in the equally restrained guitaring of Harrison and Liberty Ellman, and some expressive soloing and interlacing from the other strings: Christian Howes, Sam Bardfeld (violins), Mat Maneri (viola) and Tomas Ulrich (cello). Lake steps up for Thelonious Monk's "Misterioso," making his strongest contribution in spontaneous fashion to an ensemble that he seemingly wasn't planning on joining (unless there's some confusion in the program). Motian's "Drum Music" is another high point, taking string delicacy to the edge of aggression. In the end, this second set redeemed the uncertainties of the first half.

Mats Gustafsson & Thurston Moore

Rehab

January 30, 2009

Tags

Related Video

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 "Creative Music Studio Spring Workshop 2017" Live From New York Creative Music Studio Spring Workshop 2017
by Martin Longley
Published: July 2, 2017
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 "Arturo Sandoval at the Blue Note" Live Reviews Arturo Sandoval at the Blue Note
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: October 30, 2017
Read "Jazz Lovers Series: Hugh Hefner" Genius Guide to Jazz Jazz Lovers Series: Hugh Hefner
by Jeff Fitzgerald, Genius
Published: September 28, 2017
Read "Laura Jurd: Big Footprints" Interview Laura Jurd: Big Footprints
by Ian Patterson
Published: February 16, 2017
Read "Top 30 MP3 Downloads: 2016" Best of / Year End Top 30 MP3 Downloads: 2016
by Michael Ricci
Published: January 1, 2017
Read "Evan Parker" Building a Jazz Library Evan Parker
by John Eyles
Published: September 11, 2017
Read "Budd Kopman's Best Releases of 2016" Best of / Year End Budd Kopman's Best Releases of 2016
by Budd Kopman
Published: December 18, 2016

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!

Please support out sponsor