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Multiple Reviews

The Seneca Village Concerts


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For much of 2020 and 2021, the coronavirus pandemic brought a screeching halt to virtually all live music performances in this country. To combat that, some individuals in various locales arranged series of live open-air performances. One was recording engineer and photographer Jimmy Katz who curated a series of live outdoor jazz performances in New York City in the fall of 2020 and the spring of 2021 under the title "Walk With The Wind." These concerts were held in the Seneca Village section of Central Park. and featured a variety of local players. Katz has released albums of two of these concerts on his Giant Step Arts label.

Jason Palmer
Live From Summit Rock in Seneca Village
Giant Step Arts

Here trumpeter Jason Palmer leads a quartet with tenor saxophonist Mark Turner, bassist Edward Perez and drummer Johnathan Blake, all of whom played on his previous release, The Concert: 12 Musings For Isabella, (Giant Step Arts, 2020). As they did there, the musicians form into a solid, fiery unit that expertly navigates the wavy twists and turns of Palmer's compositions. The leader's high-pitched energy and Turner's lower-toned melodicism blend very well over the dancing rhythms laid down by Perez and Blake. The horns roll together lyrically on the waltzing beat of "Self Portrait (Rembrandt)" and attack with an electric snap on "Landscape with an Obelisk (Flinck)." All five tracks on the album are over ten minutes so everyone gets a chance to stretch out and express themselves in solos before falling into group interactions like the twisting rumba vamp of "Kalispel Bay" or the massed dipping and diving of "Falling In." Blake has an extended, rumbling solo workout on "Landscape with an Obelisk" and Palmer makes a cool but peppery opening statement on "Falling In" before the rest of the group arrives. All the musicians are in excellent for but Johnathan Blake may be the MVP of the concert for the percolating drum chatter he relentlessly lays underneath Perez's deep tones and Palmer's and Turner's adventurous statements on "Program for an Artistic Soiree (Degas)" alone.

Burton/McPherson Trio
The Summit Rock Session at Seneca Village
Giant Step Arts

The group on the second album is a no-nonsense saxophone-led trio with Abraham Burton on tenor, Eric McPherson on drums and Dezron Douglas on bass. Burton's tenor sound is a raw, deep cry out of the lineage of John Coltrane and David Murray. McPherson tumbles and hustles on the drums while Douglas nimbly walks between them in a three-way-dance that works out beautifully on "Flower" and "Seneca Blues." Elsewhere the bass and drums set up a fast and complex waltz groove for Burton to weave through on the serpentine "Dance little Mandisa" and the set's lone ballad, Tadd Dameron's "If You Could See Me Now" is a soulful tenor serenade with Douglas' bass coming off as rich and dark as prime topsoil. The set ends with the bluesy gravity of "Will Never Be Forgotten." Burton wails with brawny force as the rhythm section works an intricate pounce and roll maneuver behind him.

Tracks and Personnel

Live From Summit Rock in Seneca Village

Tracks: Falling In; Landscape with an Obelisk (Flinck); Kalispel Bay; Self Portrait (Rembrandt); Program for an Artistic Soiree (Degas).

Personnel: Jason Palmer: trumpet; Mark Turner: tenor saxophone; Edward Perez: bass; Johnathan Blake: drums.

The Summit Rock Session at Seneca Village

Tracks: Flower; Curious; Low Bridge; If you could see me now; Dance little Mandisa; Seneca Blues; Will Never Be Forgotten.

Personnel: Abraham Burton: tenor saxophone; Dezron Douglas: bass; Eric McPherson: drums.

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