All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Live Reviews

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

457

Tchicai/Kohlhase/Fewell Trio at Brookline Tai-Chi, Brookline, MA

By

Sign in to view read count
Tchicai
Tchicai/Kohlhase/Fewell Trio
Brookline Tai-Chi
Brookline, MA
April 14, 2006

The John Tchicai/Charlie Kohlhase/Garrison Fewell Trio performed on April 14 at Brookline Tai-Chi, host to an adventurous jazz series (other recent shows have included the Fully Celebrated Orchestra). The venue is an airy, vaulted studio with live acoustics that carried pleasantly the sound of the trio's reeds and guitar. On a concentrated regional tour, the three musicians had just arrived from Montreal to play that evening's concert.



Respected in his long career as an innovative and astute performer and composer, a pioneer in the 1960s, John Tchicai continues to be active in a number of ensembles. Originally from Denmark, Tchicai lives and performs in both the U.S. and Europe. Tchicai, Kohlhase, and Fewell started working together about fifteen years ago, and the trio recently released a live recording, Good Night Songs (Boxholder Records). Tchicai has also worked with each of the others in duos and larger groups.



In this trio, Tchicai assumes the role of leader, more in the sense of centering than in directing. The three musicians appeared to communicate well through listening, with little need for glances or nods. Over his jazz career, Tchicai has played a number of reeds, including soprano, alto, and tenor saxophones and bass clarinet; this evening he played tenor sax for all except the final selection. Tchicai's manner was modest, reserved, almost diffident, but on solos his playing flowered, revealing a beautiful tone and effortless instrumental technique.



Tchicai's compositions were central to the evening, which opened with a rather pensive and yearning melody that he explained was based on the traditional melody "Auld Lang Syne . Tchicai showed a whimsical side in a delightful number that he announced was about two German brothers. On that he took an energetic solo full of arpeggios, modulations, and tricky phrases with unexpected silences.



An outstanding Tchicai composition was a long, two-section medley. Its first section was a spoken/sung rendition of three Tchicai poems and the second section an instrumental called "Long-Distance Unity . The instrumental Tchicai co-wrote via email (!) with Fewell, a process that he started to describe and then passed to Fewell for further comment. After an introduction in which Kohlhase blew through his alto to make a whistling-wind sound and Tchicai briefly blew across a bottle, Tchicai launched the first poem, which flowed into the second one. Tchicai delivered the verse in elongated, sometimes tremulous, speech-song, while behind him Kohlhase and Fewell developed a repeated, four-note motif. Although many of the words were not discernible, Tchicai's impassioned delivery conveyed longing and struggle. He used a more conversational style, contrastingly humorous and easily understood, to deliver his second poem, which celebrated a woman using surreal similes on the order of "sings like a whale . On "Long-Distance Unity , Tchicai played the song-like, modal tune on tenor, joined in unison and harmony by Kohlhase on alto. Kohlhase played a particularly inspired solo, with long lines that ended in short, repeated notes, with the effect of two-voiced polyphony. Returning to a few choruses of the melody as a group, at the end of some phrases the two saxophones landed on a tritone harmony, to powerful effect.



Garrison Fewell also plays in several other musical groups, some as leader, and has composed a number of works. Fewell and Tchicai recently teamed with some Italian musicians to record the disc Big Chief Dreaming (Soul Note). Like Tchicai, Fewell spends part of his time in Europe. Fewell uses a hollow-body electric guitar to create a clear and well-articulated sound. In his shifting performance roles in the trio, he proved equally adept at coloristic intros and interludes, solos, comping, and occasionally producing a walking-bass part. That evening, Fewell added some occasional percussion, which included a small chime hanging from his guitar's pegbox.



Among the Fewell compositions on the program was the Sun Ra-inspired "Queen of Ra , also recorded on Good Night Songs. On that Fewell played an improvised-sounding introduction, strumming the guitar with a stick, plucking chords, and sliding over wrapped strings. The two saxists played the irregularly-phrased, song-like melody that is reminiscent of Ornette Coleman. There was a memorable episode of descending scalar lines that closely overlapped like a canon, and Kohlhase played a fine solo in a similar style. During choruses of the recapped melody, Tchicai and Kohlhase played in harmony, with a tritone-harmonized phrase end like that used in "Long Distance Unity , and Fewell interjected short figures between the phrases. Another Fewell composition, the title of which sounded like "Tribal Ghost , was built on a four-measure line in 7/4 meter, over which the three musicians soloed.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Georg Breinschmid at Hong Kong City Hall Live Reviews
Georg Breinschmid at Hong Kong City Hall
by Rob Garratt
Published: August 20, 2018
Read Copenhagen Jazz Festival 2018: The Community Series at Koncertkirken Live Reviews
Copenhagen Jazz Festival 2018: The Community Series at...
by Henning Bolte
Published: August 19, 2018
Read Sligo Jazz Project 2018: Days 1-2 Live Reviews
Sligo Jazz Project 2018: Days 1-2
by James Fleming
Published: August 18, 2018
Read Alan Broadbent Trio at the Deer Head Inn Live Reviews
Alan Broadbent Trio at the Deer Head Inn
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: August 15, 2018
Read Flow Festival 2018 Live Reviews
Flow Festival 2018
by Anthony Shaw
Published: August 14, 2018
Read Shipp / Lowe / Baker / Ray at Le Poisson Rouge Live Reviews
Shipp / Lowe / Baker / Ray at Le Poisson Rouge
by Karl Ackermann
Published: August 13, 2018
Read "Jazzkaar 2018" Live Reviews Jazzkaar 2018
by Martin Longley
Published: July 24, 2018
Read "Slovenian Showcase Festival 2017" Live Reviews Slovenian Showcase Festival 2017
by Ian Patterson
Published: October 4, 2017
Read "Christian McBride and Tip City at Village Vanguard" Live Reviews Christian McBride and Tip City at Village Vanguard
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: December 5, 2017
Read "John Abercrombie Tribute Concert at Roulette" Live Reviews John Abercrombie Tribute Concert at Roulette
by Tyran Grillo
Published: March 30, 2018
Read "Temple University Jazz Band at The Appel Room" Live Reviews Temple University Jazz Band at The Appel Room
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 1, 2018