The Music of Andrew Cyrille/Michael Carvin & Joseph Jarman

Andrey Henkin By

Sign in to view read count
New York Society for Ethical Culture
November 10, 2001

Since October, New York City has been the privileged host of many of Chicago's finest players: Muhal Richard Abrams, Leroy Jenkins, Kalaparusha Maurice McIntyre, Joseph Jarman and Roscoe Mitchell. Following on the heels of the Oliver Lake Big Band and the Muhal Richard Abrams Double Trio (see review), the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians 2001 Concert Season concluded with a double bill at the New York Society of Ethical Culture.
Joseph Jarman's quintet opened the show with an hour of his compositions. Jarman, the multi-reed master, performed in a stark white outfit and highly polished black shoes-a look reminiscent of Mahavishnu John McLaughlin's apparel in the early seventies. Jarman's work is infused with as much spirituality as the former Sri Chimnoy disciple's.
Jarman began on bass flute-an instrument found all too infrequently on the concert stage. In a concert under the auspices of the AACM and its philosophy of multi-instrumentalism though, it is no surprise. Meeting Mr. Jarman after the show, one wonders how these musicians can carry so many instrument cases at once. "Sunset from Nazo-Oh" set the tone-slow, airy and ethereal. The piece used the harmonium (a piano crossed with an accordion, played seated) to provide the drone common to much Eastern music. Jarman's theme was full of long single notes, following a simple but quite beautiful progression. This theme was doubled on the acoustic guitar to a sparse percussive accompaniment of drumhead and finger cymbals. The acoustics of the room provided a booming echo, quite effective for this piece, especially the resounding thud of the drums. For the rest of the set though, this would prove distracting.
"Passage Song for Lester B (The Voice)" was dedicated to the memory of Jarman's AACM colleague and collaborator. Continuing in the spirit created by the first piece, the momentum built up slowly, beginning with a simple piano and finger cymbal introduction. The guitar provided one or two notes, gradually creating a theme substantiated by Jarman on soprano sax, and Jones on tenor. As befitting an ode (Mingus' elegy to another Lester is perfect example), the tone was reflective and spacious. Jarman's soprano work was gorgeous, slowly building in intensity over textural harmony by the tenor. The rest of the group's contribution was not nearly as effective. Perhaps it is lack of understanding regarding space within a solo, but both the guitar and tenor's improvisations were at times self-indulgent and at others unfocused. The group's percussionist reinforced my opinion that there are few non-kit drummers valuable to a performance. Melford was the only musician besides Jarman who approached her parts with any cohesion.

The remainder was not particularly enjoyable or stimulating. "Happiness Is" was the only piece played at a fast tempo. The theme was trite however and the guitarist played chords that seemed to belong to a different song entirely. If not bad enough already, Jarman sang some rather insipid lyrics. This became almost as embarrassing as seeing a rotund Ted Curson singing nonsense lyrics to "Watermelon Man" at the Blue Note last year. "2001 Passage Song" and "Lifetime Visions for the Magnificent Human" also were marred by Jarman vocalizations and, despite some nice piano flourishes by Melford and an attractive flute and bass flute theme on "2001", really never went anywhere. Either the choice of material or a group that was not especially sympathetic left the audience cold, despite polite applause.

The evening was saved by Andrew Cyrille and Michael Carvin and perhaps explains the order of performers. Drum duets can be difficult to swallow. Cyrille and Billy Hart two summers ago at the Knitting Factory was 90 minutes of nonstop improvisation and, while ultimately very satisfying, required an enormous amount of attention to enjoy. This evening's duet was quite different because the six numbers were composed and the entire show was only 50 minutes. The audience was split between drummers craning their necks for a close-up of a certain technique and a less specific crowd just enjoying the polyrhythms.


More Articles

Read SFJAZZ Collective at the Music Box Supper Club Live Reviews SFJAZZ Collective at the Music Box Supper Club
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: April 28, 2017
Read Anat Cohen at Davidson College Live Reviews Anat Cohen at Davidson College
by Perry Tannenbaum
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Mark Hagan's Jazz Salon At The Old 76 House Live Reviews Mark Hagan's Jazz Salon At The Old 76 House
by David A. Orthmann
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Kneebody at Johnny Brenda's Live Reviews Kneebody at Johnny Brenda's
by Mike Jacobs
Published: April 25, 2017
Read Vossajazz 2017 Live Reviews Vossajazz 2017
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 23, 2017
Read Hermeto Pascoal at SFJAZZ Live Reviews Hermeto Pascoal at SFJAZZ
by Harry S. Pariser
Published: April 21, 2017
Read "Keith Oxman Quartet at Nocturne" Live Reviews Keith Oxman Quartet at Nocturne
by Douglas Groothuis
Published: March 19, 2017
Read "The Wood Brothers at Higher Ground" Live Reviews The Wood Brothers at Higher Ground
by Doug Collette
Published: February 10, 2017
Read "Panama Jazz Festival 2017" Live Reviews Panama Jazz Festival 2017
by Mark Holston
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "Brian Charette/Jim Alfredson Organ Duo at Nighttown" Live Reviews Brian Charette/Jim Alfredson Organ Duo at Nighttown
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: October 26, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus


Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!