234

Undead Jazz Festival: Day 3, June 25, 2011

Daniel Lehner By

Sign in to view read count
Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4

Undead Jazz Festival
New York, New York
June 23-26, 2011

Most jazz festivals in their later incarnations look for fancier, more illustrious places to play than they did at inception. The third night of the Undead Jazz festival momentarily shifted that trend in reverse. After spending their first night where they originally began, in the hip, bustling, restaurant-and-bar laden streets of Greenwich Village, and the second night in the nicely furnished but remotely located Bell House in Gowanus, Brooklyn, the festival decided to allow the eclectic, DIY, loft jazz atmospherics of its music to be reflected in the venues themselves. Though Park Slope's Littlefield is naturally accustomed to hosting musicians, Homage Skate Park and the CrossFit South Brooklyn gym were unusual venue choices to say the least. To add to the aesthetic, the latter two sports/fitness areas showed little-to-no signs of any formal conversion into a music hall. Patrons sat in the gym on folding mats and weight benches under neutral fluorescent lighting, while in the skate park, audience members were seated on grind boxes and propped up on vert ramps, ominously lit by a single, spherical ceiling lamp and séance-like candles.

Saturday night also featured some of the more experimental and lesser known performers (which for this festival is saying something). While some of the names had the potential to perk up ears within the downtown jazz world, such as David S. Ware and Matt Wilson, the night was filled with names that aimed to stir up intrigue and introduce new faces (and new configurations by familiar faces). The chasm of eclecticism was wide and open; everything from neo-traditional gospel to glitchy, electronic improv to Jewish jazz-dub was represented.

Jeff Lederer's Sunwatcher

Albert Ayler was a beloved and too-quickly-departed member of the post-Coltrane clan of avant-garde free jazz saxophonists. Reedist Jeff Lederer's quartet allowed itself to be partially possessed by the ghost of Mr. Ayler at Littlefield, channeling the saxophonist's primal aggression, wistful passion and Salvation Army band march melodies. Rounded out by bassist Chris Lightcap, drummer Matt Wilson and pianist/keyboardist Jamie Saft, the group let the spirit of Ayler's music propel it into levels of unbridled enthusiasm.

Some of Sunwatcher's music, within the context of the rest of the festival, was among the most traditional. Many of the pieces, such "Albert's Son," were fueled by Matt Wilson's big, joyous swing feel and painted in big, sun-kissed colors by Saft. However, it wasn't just the tradition of swinging that gave the quartet an old-school sound, nor did that old-school sound make the music conservative. A lot of the music harkened back to the time when quartets with histories of bebop, such as John Coltrane's classic foursome, began to use their sounds to move outwards. Saft and Lightcap would hit and react like McCoy Tyner and Jimmy Garrison used to do. Some of Lederer's solos pursued a modal, "out in the context of in" approach, ascending high and then dive-bombing. There was also no mistaking each quartet soloist's ability to play in the context of history. Lightcap soloed with a simmering swing in his slowly descending lines and Saft, who had thus far represented himself as an electrical wizard the night previously and would prove himself to be a dub reggae aficionado later in the night, established himself as a pianist to watch out for, playing lush, languid blues solos and thick, fully constructed chords at the piano. His most surprising display of musicianship came when he reached inside the piano and, instead of playing disjointed plunks, etched out a melody that sounded like a jukebox.

It wasn't all polite swing and friendly chord voicings, obviously. Lederer exhibited his most potent Aylerian scream on tenor, alto and soprano saxophones, soloing like a cyclone over charging rhythms. Saft may have been capable of channeling Red Garland but he was also capable of melting his 50's style block chords into elephantine crashes in sound. The rhythm section swirled and pounced on lulls in Lederer's soloing, setting up the necessary call and response ethic. Sunwatcher is a group that embodies the spirit of the 60's, when jazz had its pick of present and past influences.


Min Xiao-Fen's Dim Sum

Dim Sum is the Asian-American answer to the Afro-Futurist movement of the 60's and 70's. In the spirit of that cultural and artistic movement concerned with blending African identity into modern and futuristic modes of expression, Min Xiao-Fen's duet with drummer/percussionist/electronic musician Satoshi Takeishi is a musical project thousands of years in the making, and merged traditional vocals and instrumentation with electronic methods of music making.

Shop

More Articles

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 Lewis Nash and Steve Wilson at JazzNights Live Reviews Lewis Nash and Steve Wilson at JazzNights
by David A. Orthmann
Published: April 18, 2017
Read Tallinn Music Week 2017 Live Reviews Tallinn Music Week 2017
by Martin Longley
Published: April 16, 2017
Read Bergamo Jazz Festival 2017 Live Reviews Bergamo Jazz Festival 2017
by Francesco Martinelli
Published: April 14, 2017
Read Miles From India at SFJAZZ Live Reviews Miles From India at SFJAZZ
by Walter Atkins
Published: April 14, 2017
Read "Penang Island Jazz Festival 2016" Live Reviews Penang Island Jazz Festival 2016
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 23, 2016
Read "Electric Hot Tuna at Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center" Live Reviews Electric Hot Tuna at Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center
by Doug Collette
Published: November 27, 2016
Read "Beale Street Music Festival 2016" Live Reviews Beale Street Music Festival 2016
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: June 5, 2016
Read "13th Annual Uppsala International Guitar Festival" Live Reviews 13th Annual Uppsala International Guitar Festival
by John Ephland
Published: October 23, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

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!