November 2009

AAJ Staff By

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Muhal Richard Abrams and Fred Anderson

Community Church of New York

New York, NY October 16, 2009

Muhal Richard Abrams and Fred Anderson are not quite of the same island. The same Chicago archipelago, sure, but Anderson has more hovered around than been an active member of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). He was there at the beginning, but has largely followed his own path and in fact he and Abrams (one of the founding members) hadn't played in duet together for some 30 years before their Oct. 16th set as part of the AACM series at the Community Church. They opened, seemingly somehow fittingly, with a casual back and forth, Abrams tastefully depressing the piano's sustain pedal to give dramatic reverberation to Anderson's powerful and proximate tenor. There and throughout, Abrams proved a remarkably sensitive playing partner, stopping to listen and configuring anew every few minutes, snapping short heavy chords or quick clusters or even sometimes letting a sole triad suffice. Ten minutes in they hit a stride that wouldn't stop, a bronco of a duo glued together by sheer force and it was great then to hear Abrams improvising free and heavy. And while let it be said that Anderson hasn't softened with age, there has been a new quietude in his playing of late, something more pensive, rather surprising and quite beautiful. It's an unexpected vantage on a firebrand player, a sort of meditation within the furies. When he and Abrams entered those areas, it made for the most memorable music of the night.

AUM Fidelity Showcase

Abrons Arts Center

New York City

October 15, 2009

AUM Fidelity marked its 12th year of doing fine business at Abrons Arts Center Oct. 15th with a night featuring the label's first two signings and its most recent. But more than a birthday party it was a warm welcoming to David S. Ware, making his first appearance on stage since receiving a kidney transplant. Noticeably thinner and walking with a cane, Ware demonstrated that any weakness he might have been feeling wasn't affecting his playing. He not only took the set alone, but with an unusual battery of horns. Opening on the saxello, he switched for the second piece to the tricky and unwieldy stritch. Here he faltered only slightly, regaining composure within the first minute and proceeding to construct an improvisation like an ambidextrous bricklayer, setting small groupings of notes and then repeating, building in both directions. He closed the short, strong set on his main sax, the tenor, by now easily moving into circular breathing and upper register punctuation. Saxophonist Darius Jones has been playing in Cooper-Moore's groups and employed his boss in his trio, who played a more aggressive but every bit as satisfying a set as that documented on their debut CD. William Parker's Little Huey Orchestra, who haven't been seen on stage for four years, played a long suite built largely around its six saxophones, including Rob Brown, perhaps Parker's strongest mouthpiece. Brown clearly articulated the hilltops and underground streams of Parker's extended piece.

—Kurt Gottschalk

Joe Wilder All-Nite Soul

Saint Peter's Church

New York City

October 11, 2009

Oct. 11th marked the 44th anniversary of Saint Peter's (almost) All Nite Soul celebration, held this year in honor of trumpeter/photographer Joe Wilder. Beginning with Jazz Vespers at 5 pm, with Arturo O'Farrill, his two sons, Ike and Misty Sturm, house pianist Paul Knopf and a church full of parishioners and musicians, the liturgy felt like an intimate gathering of the jazz community. The concert lineup featured the ministry's extended family of performers, octogenarians and teenagers alike, in 20 short sets that filled the lofty hall with inspired improvisation. Among many fine moments, there was: Frank Wess' laid-back and lyrical "Old Folks"; honoree Joe Wilder's coda to "I Got It Bad"; Ingrid Jensen's interactive set (during which EMT's removed an ailing parishioner by stretcher while the combo played a prayer); Benny Powell's swinging "Killer Joe"; Wycliffe Gordon's voice-like trombone; vocalist Tulivu's send-up of "Teach Me Tonight" with Ray Abrams' big band; Jimmy Owens' four-trumpet octet playing a slowed-down unison arrangement of Wilder's recorded solo over "Cherokee"; Chanda Rule's acrobatic vocalese on "My Baby Just Cares for Me"; the Brooklyn Repertory Ensemble's tuba and mellophone enhanced "People Make the World Go Round"; Sarah McLawler's infectious "'Tis Autumn" and vibraphonist Chris Dingman's all-original set. Nearly ten hours later, Knopf returned to play a closing cadence for the dozen or so who made it to the end.

Jazz Foundation of America Benefit

Dizzy's Club

New York City

October 6th, 2009


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