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Saturday @ Winter Jazzfest (Day 2)

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Saturday night jazzfest menu

Got there around 8:15PM this time and started off, just as the day before, with trying to do some quick gig hopping and check out all the venues for the most appealing sounds…

On the average, I think it felt even more crowded than the day before (it was 2000 people both nights and it was sold out). Come to think of it, according to the data on Search&Restore website, the capacity of Zinc Bar is 250, 800 for le Poisson Rouge, 345 for Sullivan Hall (although I never saw that being at capacity),which totals 1395 people, theoretically. That would leave around 300 each for Kenny’s Castaways and the Bitter End. So it’s pretty understandable that the crowds were all over the place.

1. Bernie Worrell Orchestra @ le Poisson Rouge

Kyle Cadena, guitar / Andrew Kimball, guitar / Scott Hogan, bass / Glen Fittin, percussion / Shlomi Cohen, alto sax / Ofer Assaf, tenor sax / Justin Mullens, trumpet / Karl Latham, drums / Evan Taylor, drums

Pretty straightforward funky kind of music. Hopped on pretty soon…

2. Herculaneum @ Kenny’s Castaways

Dylan Ryan, drums / David McDonnell, alto saxophone / Nick Broste, trombone / Nate Lepine, tenor saxophone and flute / Patrick Newbery, trumpet / Greg Danek, bass

Stopped by really briefly: seemed like a nice hang, but not spectacular enough to settle down…

Bernie Worrell Orchestra

3. Lionel Loueke @ Zinc Bar

Lionel Loueke, guitar and vocals / Michael Olatuja, bass / Mark Guiliana, drums

Although I had heard Lionel Loueke a few times, I was a bit curiuos to hear this particular lineup with Mark Guiliana on drums. Finally managed to get in to Zinc Bar (it was so crowded that I didn’t really see anything). They sounded nice, but I only stayed for a tune or so, as the mission for the night was to hear something mind blowing… :)

4. Andy Milne’s Dapp Theory @ the Bitter End

Andy Milne, piano, keyboards & vocals / John Moon, poet / Aaron Kruziki, reeds & vocals / Chris Tordini, basses & vocals / Kenny Grohowski, drums & guitar

Andy Milne's Dapp Theory

Back to the Bitter End. That one was crowded as well (oddly, everybody also stayed near the door, actually there was more room on the other side of the room). The band had energy and intention + they played well, so it was a pleasure to listen. Later on John Moon, the poet and vocalist in the band, performed some interesting improvised (?) poetry, locking it in with the band’s groove. Haven’t heard things like that too often, so I thought it sounded interesting, the rhythm of the words and the music…

5. Mostly Other People Do The Killing @ Kenny’s Castaways

Peter Evans, trumpet / Jon Irabagon, saxophone / Moppa Elliott, bass / Kevin Shea, drums

Didn’t fascinate that much me at the moment. Hopped on…

Fabian Almazan & Strings

6. Fabian Almazan and Strings @ Sullivan  Hall

Fabian Almazan, piano / Linda Oh, bass / Henry Cole, drums / Jenny Scheinman: Violin. I / Megan Gould, violin. II / Karen Waltuch, viola / Noah Hoffeld, cello

Didn’t hear enough of it to form an opinion. And to be honest, I thought Sullivan Hall wasn’t that appropriate a venue to hear this kind of music anyway as the sound of the room is more suitable for rock (bass is heavy, not so clear overall). On the average, the venues that have jazz in New York normally have really great balanced sound (rooms are dry and not emphasizing any particular frequencies). So I’d rather hear Fabian Almazan and Strings somewhere else.

Justin Brown Group w/ special guest Ambrose Akinmusire

7. Justin Brown Group @ Sullivan Hall

Fabian Almazan, fender Rhodes & piano / Burness Travis, electric bass / Matthew Stevens, guitar / Special guest Ambrose Akinmusire, trumpet / Justin Brown, drums

Another band I was looking forward to hearing – but somehow the music and the playing didn’t touch me this time.

Vijay Iyer Trio @ le Poisson Rouge

8. Vijay Iyer trio @ le Poisson Rouge

Vijay Iyer, piano / Stephan Crump, bass / Marcus Gilmore, drums

That one was great! The only drawback was that Le Poisson Rouge was packed as hell. Marcus Gilmore, once again, sounded great. And so did Stephan Crump on bass and Vijay himself. Looking forward to hearing them again soon, preferably in a bit more relaxed environment.

Allison Miller's BOOM TIC BOOM

9. Allison Miller’s BOOM TIC BOOM @ the Bitter End

Myra Melford, piano / Jenny Scheinman, violin / Brad Jones, bass / Allison Miller, drums

The Bitter End was packed as hell as well, but I managed to squeeze through the mob to the other side of the room, so it was quite cozy. I also found the music to be charming somehow, although it probably wouldn’t have been a jazz purist’s cup of tea (again, this conflict between the rhythmic worlds of jazz and folk). Allison Miller had loads of great musical ideas, enjoyable grooves and it was refreshing to hear her creative musical vision pouring out of the drum set: she treats the instrument in quite a unique way. They also had a nice energy as a band and were clearly enjoying what they do – it is always incredible to witness how much that actually adds (regardless of the actual music).

Taylor Eigsti trio

10. Taylor Eigsti trio @ the Bitter End

Taylor Eigsti, piano / Eric Harland, drums / Harish Raghavan, bass

That was the highlight of the day for me. Great musicians, great band!  First, they played a few originals, then a pretty impressive version of Wayne Shorter’s Deluge. Tenor player Dayna Stephens stepped up as special guest for (his arrangement of) Joe Henderson’s Black Narcissus. For the last tune, vocalist Becca Stevens joined for a tune written by her and Eigsti, Magnolia.

Taylor Eigsti trio w/ Becca Stevens and Dayna Stephens

What impressed me most in the concert was Eigsti’s almost McCoy Tyner kind of energy in his melodic lines. It was also great how he made musically meaningful use of textures of the actual instruments, combining the more intense sound of the piano (even more noteworthy as the actual piano seemed to be rather crappy) and the mellow sound of Rhodes. Harish Raghavan’s command of the bass was almost scary. And Eric Harland was as great as ever, or better.

11. Tyshawn Sorey Oblique @ the Bitter End

Tyshawn Sorey, drums / Loren Stillman, alto saxophone / Todd Neufeld, guitar / John Escreet, piano, keyboards / Chris Tordini, bass

Tyshawn Sorey Oblique @ the Bitter End

Although that was one of the late-night sets (starting at 01:45 AM) and many had departed, but there seemed to be quite a few musicians around to see this one. What bothered me about this one, though, was how they (not Tyshawn though) seemed to be struggling with all the reading. Most players were so fixed on their sheet music that it looked almost humorous. Although this kind of intellectual and many-faceted compositions seem to be one of the interesting developments in jazz and one probably can’t really play music like that by heart, is reading music really supposed to be something that jazz musicians should demonstrate in such extreme ways? I feel that lot of the effortlessness and grace that one would expect from the live music gets lost. All were great musicians (heard some spectacular solos and overall amazing musicianship), though, and it was kind of fun to try to process and make sense of the load of musical information presented (giving an almost sport-like thrill…).

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…

Lionel Loueke Trio @ Birdland, Helsinki

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Lionel Loueke trio @ Birdland, Helsinki

 

There is a new jazz club in Helsinki – Birdland, with some kind of connection to the Birdland of New York. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be run in the same level as in New York. The place looks nice and the sound is good, but the space is divided so that in the far ends of the club people don’t (can’t) listen or see the band. The general feeling is that they don’t take the music side that seriously in the club, or have a respect for it. Why have a jazz club if one doesn’t take the music seriously? The drinks are also quite a bit overpriced, a glass of wine almost 9€ and beer (not even a pint of it) is 6€. And the compulsory coat check another 2,5€ each.

They do have some great artists from time to time, though. Yesterday I heard a concert booked by the  Jazz Department of Sibelius Academy – Lionel Loueke’s trio with (half Swedish, half Italian) Massimo Biolcati on bass and Ferenc Nemeth (half Hungarian, half Hungarian ;)) on drums. I thought it kept getting better and better, as they got warmed up. Really tricky meters in the music, I totally gave up trying to figure those out.

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