All the Things… New York Jazz and More

Blog of a jazz enthusiast

Theo Bleckmann @ Lincoln Center – The Music of Kate Bush

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Theo Bleckmann: Hello Earth! The Music of Kate Bush

A free concert (as part of Target Free Thursdays) @ David Rubenstein Atrium: Theo Bleckmann’s project Hello Earth! The Music of Kate Bush. I got there early (about 1h 20 minutes before show) and there actually weren’t that many unreserved seats left. The public was, on the average, a bit older (maybe some of them actually had heard Kate Bush perform some of those songs back in the day, on that one and only Life tour in Britain in 1979?)). Theo Bleckmann (voice and electronic voice processing), Henry Hey (keyboards, voice), Chris Tarry (electric bass), Caleb Burhans (electric five string violin, electric guitar, voice), John Hollenbeck (drums).

They performed some amazing Kate Bush tunes: it made me really want to check out Kate Bush’s music more (I don’t know if it just me, or my generation hasn’t really been that exposed to it…?). They played: Running Up That Hill, Wuthering Heights, And Dream Of Sheep, Under Ice, Army Dreamers, All The Love, Hello Earth, Love And Anger. As a listener I was really grateful how well Theo Bleckmann also introduced the songs: it added a lot to my growing fascination with the wonder of Kate Bush. For example, he mentioned how Bush wrote the hit tune Wuthering Heights without never having read the book (just having watched the TV show)?? It’s actually really great to hear the story behind the tunes, I wish artists would share things like that more often, it can be a huge added value to hearing the music.

Some of the tunes sounded magical (my favorite was Under Ice), but on some moments I still couldn’t help feeling that something was lacking from the full experience: I felt that Bleckmann’s voice didn’t possess, albeit the outstanding musicality, the same supple charm that Kate Bush has in her own music? The sound in the David Rubinstein Atrium might not have contributed that much for this occasion either (too much echo, lower frequencies got quite opaque). But the music itself, the tunes, were so great! I’m really glad to have seen the show. I definitely got a deep respect for Kate Bush’s music from hearing this.

Music feast ahead: Winter Jazzfest 2012

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2012 NYC Winter Jazz Fest

The eighth New York Winter Jazzfest coming up, to deliver over 60 mouthwatering performances in a compact spread of 5 different venues in the West Village. This Friday and Saturday (January 6th and 7th) – all music lovers in the city are going (me too)!

The sheer amount of music will be quite overwhelming, I expect. Imagining that if one would go see a concert once a week every single week of the year, it would still add up to only 52, compared to the 60 on just the two nights… What a way to take a bite out of this thriving music scene here.

I’ve been going through the program for a while (and it’s even kind of educating to do some pre-listening on some of the artists): it looks like it’s quite difficult to construct the absolute best itinerary for the nights – practically all of it has the potential to sound pretty mind blowing.

But as I’ve actually heard quite a many of this year’s performers before at some point, this time time I’m particularly excited about:

Julian Lage Group – (haven’t heard him live yet, but he seems to be a great guitar player and musician) Friday, 7:45pm @ Sullivan Hall

The 5 venues: the Bitter End, Le Poisson Rouge, Kenny's Castaway's, Sullivan Hall, Zinc Bar

Ben Williams and the Sound Effect – Jaleel Shaw, Matt Stevens, Gerald Clayton, Etienne Charles, Justin Brown. Sounds like a promising bunch Saturday, 12:45 AM @ Sullivan Hall

Justin Brown Group –  curious to see his own group (seen him doing a great job as a sideman on several occasions) Saturday 10:15 pm @ Sullivan Hall

Taylor Eigsti – one of the best young pianists now? Must be a great concert (with Eric Harland and Harish Rhaghavan) Saturday 12:30 AM @ the Bitter End

Tyshawn Sorey Oblique : interesting music! Saturday 01:45 AM @ the Bitter End

Yeah, and then I’m going to try to squeeze in Lionel Loueke (with Mark Guiliana on drums!), Marc Ribot’s Ceramic Dog, Wallace Roney (a little bit different generation than most of the Jazzfest, but sounding hip…), Chris Morrissey (with Aaron Parks, Mark Guiliana, Ben Wendel, Nir Felder = such a promising lineup!), Steven Bernstein’s MTO plays Sly (everybody’s raving about them), Ben Allison trio, Joel Harrison String Orchestra…

But most of all, I expect some of the fun to lie in playing it by the ear…

Tuesday at The Fifth Estate

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Kyle Nasser Group @ the Fifth Estate

The Fifth Estate’s jazz Tuesdays seem to be quite a worthy tradition in the Brooklyn jazz scene. For a couple of months now they’ve also had the early set from 7-9:30, by Kyle Nasser Group. I did some pre-listening in their Myspace and thought they’d be worth checking out as well.

So I heard the second set, consisting of: Speak Low, a fresh sounding original tune (by the guitar player in the group, unfortunately I didn’t catch his name), then a tune that I didn’t recognize, a version of Nefertiti with some really beautiful moments, and I Remember You. 

Some of the tunes had a nice fresh energy in them, which I really enjoyed. The guitar player in the group seemed also interesting, played with a lot of energy (which I think is actually quite rare…) although he was relying on Kurt Rosenwinkel’s influence quite a bit which I think is not such an original thing to copy nowadays. I wish I’d find someone successfully copying Grant Green from somewhere…

Donny McCaslin, Diego Voglino, Linda Oh and John Chin

Afterwards we heard the set by Diego Voglino (drums) with Donny McCaslin (tenor) , Linda Oh (bass), John Chin (keyboard). They played Milestones (the older one by Miles Davis), Billy Strayhorn’s Isfahan, John Coltrane’s Crescent and Like Sonny and two compositions by John Chin. I really enjoyed Donny McCaslin’s top quality saxophone playing 🙂 Pretty amazing, on this crispy cold New York Tuesday night, in a bar in Brooklyn, to hear such people… It was actually also my first time hearing Linda Oh: I thought she is great, very nice musician, and actually still rather underrated, in my opinion.

Besides the consistently good jazz at Fifth Estate, they  also have Southampton beer on tap! I like! 🙂

Written by Ines

January 4, 2012 at 3:21 am

Vic Juris Trio with Tim Hagans @ 55 Bar

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Vic Juris trio with Tim Hagans @ 55 Bar

It was great to hear some good jazz on January first: Vic Juris (guitar), Jay Anderson (bass), Adam Nussbaum (drums) and Tim Hagans (trumpet) @ 55 Bar (the early set). Very nice crowd and atmosphere 🙂

They played a beautiful version of Ornette Coleman’s Lonely Woman.

Written by Ines

January 2, 2012 at 7:15 pm

New Year’s Eve @ Fat Cat: Avi Rothbard Trio

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Avi Rothbard, Pete Zimmer, Jared Gold @ Fat Cat

While most venues seemed to advertise and sell their New Year’s Eve packages for a lot of money and required reservations and/or standing in lines, Fat Cat might actually seemed to be way more accessible than their regular Saturday night. And the same $3 admission as always. And no fuss. Very refreshing.

And actually great music as well: Avi Rothbard (guitar), Jared Gold (organ B3) and Pete Zimmer (drums). I thought they sounded great!

They played, among other things, the Jitterbug WaltzYou Go To My Head, I Don’t Stand A Ghost Of a Chance With You, Midnight Blue, Sunny, Road Song, Just Friends, Feel Like Makin’ Love and some originals.

As they took quite a few requests, I tried to make one for Wives and Lovers, but they said they had played it in the first set (which I missed) 🙂

I was happy to start my year with them!

Written by Ines

January 2, 2012 at 2:28 am

Mark Guiliana’s Beat Music @ Rockwood

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Mark Guiliana’s Beat Music @ Rockwood

It has been a while since I last heard Mark Guiliana’s Beat Music (formerly known as Mark Guiliana’s Thing). This time it was with Jason Lindner on keyboards, Stephen Wall on all kinds of innovative and traditional instruments and gadgets, and Chris Morrissey on bass. It was really packed in Rockwood (I hope everybody tipped well as there was no admission). I was really lucky to get a seat upstairs, high enough to notice the words of wisdom “Play less” written on Mark Guiliana’s snare drum 🙂 I guess actually this straightforward approach is the big charm of this music: in this uncluttered and seemingly simple groove (not so many fancy time signatures) there is so much inner movement and textures that the space in it is actually the thing that becomes irresistibly addictive…

Musically, I think the project has evolved quite a bit since I last saw them: it’s more thought out although by no means lacking improvisation and spontaneity, still. As a proof to that, vocalist Jeff Taylor (in whose band Mark Guiliana and Stephen Wall play as well) got on stage for a few tunes for even more musical energy.

Mark Guiliana’s Beat Music featuring Jeff Taylor

For my heart’s content, they even played the classic Heernt tune Locked in a Basement 😀

But, I would actually be really worried about my hearing if I’d frequent the place a bit more.

Peter Bernstein, Larry Goldings and Bill Stewart @ Smalls

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Lines outside Smalls jazz club

One of those shows that one should arrive early to: we got there about half an hour before the first set (@8PM), stood in line (really awesome line, of awesome people:D) for at least the half hour, and were able to buy tickets for the second set only… So we just had a drink in a nearby bar and came back half an our before the second set (@10PM –  at that point the whole thing was sold out, so I guess they had no general admission really)…

Peter Bernstein, Larry Goldings, Bill Stewart @ Smalls

The concert was great, as expected: they were celebrating the release of the live recording they did at Smalls almost exactly a year ago (January 6-8 2011).  They started with Just A Thought by Peter Bernstein, then bluesy Molto Molto with some Giant Steps influenced changes (by Larry Goldings). Then Django (John Lewis) that started with Bernstein on solo guitar. Extremely beautiful (Bernstein’s sound was just incredible) ballad All Too Soon (by Duke Ellington). Then a burning blues Breakthrough (by Hank Mobley) featuring Bill Stewart on drums… 😀 They closed with a soulful version of Ahmad Jamal’s Night Mist Blues.

Written by Ines

December 29, 2011 at 5:17 pm