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July 2009

AAJ Staff By

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One of the most soulful voices to emerge out of the '70s avant-garde, Oliver Lake evinces a musical vision that is both expansive and inclusive, drawing freely from myriad traditions to create a consistently forward-looking body of work that stands out for its inventiveness and originality. Leading his Organ Quartet at Sweet Rhythm (Jun. 5th) the iconoclastic altoist propelled the popular '50s "soul jazz" format into the future with a sound that was raucous and relaxing at the same time. Lake's frontline partner trumpeter Freddie Hendrix, whose experiences range from Rufus Reid's quintet to the J.B.'s Reunion Band, proved to be the perfect foil for the leader, their strong individual tones melding in dissonant harmony to create a walloping whole with a powerful punch even stronger than the sum of its four-fisted parts. Jared Gold's central role in the group contributed greatly to its distinctive sound, drawing judiciously from the Hammond organ's popular vocabulary but avoiding the trite clichés that forced the instrument out of favor. Drummer Bill McClellan provided the freewheeling rhythmic force that helped drive Lake and Hendrix' extroverted conversations into new territory in a program of original compositions by the leader. The opening "Backup" had a storytelling quality that emphasized the voicelike attributes of Lake's horn that remained evident throughout the set, which ended with a stirring reading of the gospel classic "I Want to Walk with Jesus".

Warren Smith

Minton's Playhouse

New York, NY

June 13, 2009

Multi-instrumentalist Warren Smith demonstrated his much-heralded versatility from the very outset of his first set at Minton's (Jun. 13th), sitting behind the legendary club's drum kit to kick off the evening, drafting a young pianist from the audience to join him and bassist Leon Dorsey while waiting for the rest of his band to arrive from an earlier engagement. The trio jammed on a couple of standards prior to Smith's calling up another drummer from the audience so that he could take his place at the vibraphone to swing a version of Milt Jackson's "Bags Groove," the evening's one piece in the spirit of its billing as a Tribute to the MJQ. The appearance of drummer Eli Fountain (himself a flexible vibraphonist-percussionist in the Smith tradition) and pianist Alva Nelson moved the band into a more energized mode with a pulsating reading of "Afro Blue" that began with the former's chanted introduction and was marked by the latter's powerful percussive Tyner-ish chords. Smith's lyrical modality on the vibes here demonstrated his admitted affection for the style of Bobby Hutcherson, although on "In A Sentimental Mood" and "Sonnymoon For Two" the influence of Jackson was equally evident. The addition of the Last Poets' Don Eaton on djembe added to the contemporary flavor of the second set which included lively versions of War's "The World Is A Ghetto" and Stevie Wonder's "Overjoyed," proving that there's still plenty of swinging jazz to be mined from the pop and R&B music catalogues.

—Russ Musto

Recommended New Listening:

* Kevin Hays Trio—You've Got a Friend (Jazz Eyes)

* Ron Horton—It's a Gadget World (ABEAT)

* Tony Malaby—Paloma Recio (New World)

* Tim Posgate Hornband—Banjo Hockey (Black Hen)

* Alan Sondheim & Myk Freedman—Julu Twine (Porter)

* EJ Strickland—In This Day (Strick Muzik)

—David Adler NY@Night Columnist,

* John Hébert—Byzantine Monkey (Firehouse 12)

* Steve Lehman Octet—Travail, Transformation, and Flow (Pi)

* Nicole Mitchell's Black Earth Strings—Renegade (Delmark)

* Roberto Rodriguez—Timba Talmud (Tzadik)

* Swiss Improvisers Orchestra—Zwitzerland (Creative Sources)

* The Thing—Bag It! (Smalltown Superjazzz)

—Laurence Donohue-Greene Managing Editor, AllAboutJazz-New York

* Paul Dunmall/Matthew Bourne/Dave Kane/Steve Davis—Moment to Moment (SLAM)

* Avram Fefer—Ritual (Clean Feed)

* Peter Kowald/Vinny Golia—Mythology (Kadima Collective)

* Torben Snekkestad—Conic Folded (ILK Music)

* Jonas Struck/Kasper Tranberg/Anders Christensen/Kresten Osgood—Thunderstrucks (Blackout)

* Yom—New King of Klezmer Clarinet (Buda Musique)

—Andrey Henkin Editorial Director, AllAboutJazz-New York


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