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March-April 2012: Dan Hanrahan, Matthew Shipp, Danilo Perez, Aerial Photograph

RJ Johnson By

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Dan Hanrahan Trio

Moonstone Arts Center

February 22, 2012

The Moonstone Arts Center, one of Philadelphia's more successful outlets for jazz music, has been growing in popularity amongst local musicians as a venue geared towards supporting original music. Dan Hanrahan, a guitarist well versed in jazz tradition, led his organ trio through a set of arranged standards and original compositions.

The set began with the standard "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You," arranged with an updated bebop-influenced melody and syncopated rhythmic hits. Organist Dave Mattock displayed his technical command of the organ by walking bass lines and taking an extended improvisation on Hanrahan's "Three Colors," a brisk waltz with a modern swing feel. Drummer Kevin Daly, a senior drum student at Temple University, rounded out the group. He and Mattock locked in perfectly, pushing the band forward and providing Hanrahan with a perfect accompaniment. Hanrahan's style recalled the nuances of many of jazz guitar's pioneers such as Grant Green and Tal Farlow. His articulation wassmoother than most traditional players, but his vocabulary displayed an obvious study of bebop and post-bop improvisers.

The Moonstone Arts Center has been hosting jazz shows more frequently this year, and is growing in popularity amongst listeners and fans alike with a calendar featuring Philadelphia's best jazz musicians as well as up-and-coming jazz acts and world music.

Matthew Shipp Trio

University of the Arts

March 13, 2012

The Matthew Shipp Trio, a band largely associated with the avant-garde jazz inspired by musicians such as Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor, performed an hour-long single piece set at the University of the Arts.

The most unique aspect of Shipp's Trio was the seamless nature of its entire set. Individual pieces, usually comprised of no more than a few simple themes or melodic motifs, were used as springboards for complete group improvisations. The style of interaction which Shipp's Trio has created is essentially unheard of elsewhere. The musicians do not seem to have borrowed much influence from any previous classic piano trio, even the original Bill Evans trio, which became famous for the interaction between its players on albums including the legendary Sunday at the Village Vanguard (Riverside, 1961). Shipp's Trio has instead gone even further, mostly eliminating any obvious signs of a soloist or clear leader.

Within the Matthew Shipp Trio, there was almost no distinction between soloist and accompanist. In fact, it would seem that the focus of the performance was centered on moving flawlessly from one composition to the next and improvising within each tune's framework. Forms were somewhat disregarded, or treated so liberally that their architecture remained intriguingly beguiling. As a whole, the performance almost felt more like an hour-long tone poem than a largely improvised free jazz set. The Trio did not employ the often harsh instrumental techniques of many other free jazz artists, instead relying on controlled and surprisingly cohesive musical conversation.

Shipp's piano technique included an obvious study of 20th century classical piano repertoire. He often played on the strings of the piano, and employed atonal Gyorgy Ligeti-esque bursts to distinguish one piece from another, rather than stopping for applause. Dynamically, Shipp was reserved compared to many other modern pianists. His rhythmic complexity and classically inspired language created a unique sound, generating enough interest on its own without the need of heavy-handed free playing. This was well matched by the style of drummer Whit Dickey, who also relied more on lighter dynamics and refined conversational interaction, often with brushes or lightly used sticks, providing a steady, brooding energy, but never forcing the music to go any further than it needed to. Bassist Michael Bisio took the only unaccompanied solo of the set, beginning with a long arco introduction which built to an Eastern-inspired modal cadenza.

Shipp released Elastic Aspects (Thirsty Ear, 2012) earlier in the year, and each of the follow-up performances, though always completely unique, have reflected the material on the record.

Danilo Perez Quartet

Kimmel Center

April 14, 2012

Pianist Danilo Perez led a quartet of jazz stars including drummer Brian Blade, bassist John Patitucci, and saxophonist Kenny Garrett through a set dedicated to Philadelphia native, pianist McCoy Tyner.

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