579

John Zorn, Cindy Blackman, Dhafer Youssef, Jon Hassell, The Necks, Kenny Werner

Martin Longley By

Sign in to view read count
...to make a live Hassell sighting after all these years is a rare privilege. The admirer doubtless wants to make the occasion so mystical that it can't possibly convey all of the potential contained within the imagination.
John Zorn

Abrons Arts Center

February 7, 2009

This is getting to be a habit, as composer and alto saxophonist John Zorn erects his tent at the Abrons Arts Center once more, for two weekend shows, both of them merging older material with fresh compositions, presented by two of his dedicated ensembles. The first evening featured Masada, whilst this second concentrates on The Dreamers, plus a premiere of O'o, which is effectively "Son Of Dreamers." The O'o is an extinct Hawaiian bird. No-one's going to argue with Zorn over what its song was like. Conveniently, the septet are set for a recording session the next morning, so this acts as a hot-wired dress rehearsal run, complete with a full-house audience cheering them onwards.

Zorn, ever the perfectionist, halts a couple of numbers within their first minute or two, although this doesn't appear slack, but rather more like strict, quality control. Even though the combo is visibly uncertain of the new music, this diffidence is only evident in their faces and the greased-by-experience sign language they all have with their leader. Zorn himself doesn't play, but sits in conductor mode, ostensibly not doing much in practical terms, but in actuality triggering solos, controlling their length and encouraging (or discouraging) their level of gusto. The cast is selected for their fluency in the language of 1960s surf trash exotica, filmic boogaloo, cocktail psychedelia and neurotic spangloid sounds in general. Guitarist Marc Ribot is the prime deliverer of potent statements, usually responsible for tearing the ensemble skywards, but Kenny Wollesen (on the vibraphone) and Jamie Saft (on acoustic and electric keys) also take frequent solos. These are always integrated into the general fabric of the tunes, kicked along by the always excitable Joey Baron (on full drumkit) and Cyro Baptista, who is the source of forest-calling sounds throughout, busily and resourcefully tinkering with wood, metal, skin and (just like the Zorn of old) bird-tweet devices. Trevor Dunn often enjoys hyper-deep bass frequencies, but are these shuddering emanations intentional? Sitting here on the front row (admittedly in the full path of his amplifier), some of Dunn's lines sound on the verge of being distorted: pure woolly mammoth vibration.

The demarcation line is thin between what was presumably going to be a pair of sets, as the band vacates the stage following the O'o material. The crowd isn't sure whether this is intermission time or gig's end, so after much cheering, the septet returns with selections from The Dreamers album, almost like a very extended encore. It's an invigorating evening of avant retro-style collisions, with both band and audience thrilled to be hearing this mostly new music.

Cindy Blackman's Explorations

Jazz Standard

February 7, 2009

Drummer Cindy Blackman is debuting her new Explorations band, its most notable feature being the twinning of two keyboardists, in the electric Miles Davis manner. The club's acoustic piano remains shrouded. Zacai Curtis plays Fender Rhodes, while Marc Cary fiddles about with Moog-ey spaghetti, also attending to his laptop. Initially, Cary comes across as a distracted and uncertain outsider presence, as Curtis takes the solo spotlight. But as this late-night set progresses, Cary emerges from his shell, issuing some stridently pitched statements that establish a stylistic dominance, at least for a brief stretch. Blackman herself is less extroverted than usual, though she's still a powerful presence when compared to the majority of drummers. It could be that the material's freshness hasn't yet enabled full freak-out mode, as the band is still coming to grips with the tunes. Nevertheless, it's a celebratory gig, further refining Blackman's dual interests in hardcore post-bop and funky fusion, sometimes accessible and bright, at others roilingly spiritual in an uncompromising manner, this latter quality taken care of by the spiraling saxophone constructions of Antoine Roney.

Dhafer Youssef

Highline Ballroom

February 9, 2009

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

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 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 "Creative Music Studio Spring Workshop 2017" Live From New York Creative Music Studio Spring Workshop 2017
by Martin Longley
Published: July 2, 2017
Read "Nicola Negri's Best Releases Of 2016" Best of / Year End Nicola Negri's Best Releases Of 2016
by Nicola Negri
Published: December 29, 2016
Read "Benny Golson at Jazz Standard" New York @ Night Benny Golson at Jazz Standard
by Peter Jurew
Published: November 3, 2016
Read "Dan Phillips Returns To Chicago" Multiple Reviews Dan Phillips Returns To Chicago
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "Nat Birchall: Creation" Extended Analysis Nat Birchall: Creation
by Phil Barnes
Published: November 23, 2016
Read "The Beatles: Live At The Hollywood Bowl" Extended Analysis The Beatles: Live At The Hollywood Bowl
by Doug Collette
Published: September 11, 2016

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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