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Posts Tagged ‘Nir Felder

Friday at Winter Jazzfest (Day 1)

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Jazzfest menu

One of the most anticipated yearly music events – it was my first time to attend. Although I’ve done quite a bit of gig hopping before (too much temptation in New York even on a regular night), this time I probably set a personal record for the amount of bands heard in one night: caught 12 of the 31 groups on Friday (which would still make only 38% of all the Winter Jazzfest treats on offer for the day :)).

It was truly an unforgettable experience (and quite a challenge, to process that much musical information and find a way through the crowds)!

Here are some of my impressions from the first day of the Bleecker street & surroundings gig hopping marathon:

1. Started off with the Curtis Hasselbring’s Mellow Edwards @ Le Poisson Rouge, around 6 PM

Curtis Hasselbring's New Mellow Edwards

Curtis Hasselbring, trombone & guitar / Chris Speed, tenor saxophone & clarinet / Mary Halvorson, guitar / Matt Moran, vibraphone / Trevor Dunn, bass / Satoshi Takieshi, drums & percussion / Ches Smith, drums & percussion

Heard a nice guitar solo (tastefully poetic, created a spacious and open feel as if watching clouds in the sky…) by Mary Halvorson, but didn’t stay for the whole thing, still. In the early hours, there were quite few people everywhere, so it seemed like an ideal time for gig hopping and trying to see it all…

2. Off to Kenny’s Castaways to hear Ben Allison w/ Strings

Ben Allison trio w/ Strings

Jenny Scheinman (violin), Steve Cardenas (guitar), Ben Allison (bass)

That was one of the shows I had been looking forward to hearing (I’ve heard all three of them before myself quite a few times, but not this lineup).

I actually didn’t find it that interesting (the combination of jazz and folk often makes me wish it was either one or the other since rhythmically they are such different worlds). Great musicians though.

3. The Bitter End: Joel Harrison String Choir playing the music of Paul Motian

Joel Harrison String Choir

Joel Harrison, Liberty Ellman, guitars / Christian Howes, Sam Bardfeld, violins / Mat Maneri, viola / Dave Eggar, cello

That actually was not a tribute band (active for 10 years already, starting way before Paul Motian died…). Having a string quartet seems to be this year’s big trend for many bands…  This one was nice, but I still thought I should move on…

4. Julian Lage Group @ Sullivan Hall

Julian Lage, guitar / Jorge Roeder, bass / Tupac Mantilla, percussion / Aristides Rivas, cello / Dan Blake, sax

Adam Schatz presenting Julian Lage Group

This was one of the shows that I was really looking forward to hearing. And yes, Julian Lage is an absolutely amazing guitar player and instrumentalist with a great sense of drama. And they seemed to be enjoying what they do (and the audience loved them back for it) and the energy in the show was great (reminding of Pat Metheny Group somewhat).

But the melodic lines Lage played seemed surprisingly random, considering the outstanding quality of his musicianship. That kind of devalued the thing for me

Zinc Bar around 8:15 PM

(altough I guess great lines aren’t the most important thing people expect to hear nowadays)… So I didn’t stay for long.

Then tried to get in to Zinc Bar – as did many others, so it looked rather hopeless…Ditched the idea for the time.

Pete Robbins / Simon Jermyn / Oscar Noriega / John Hollenbeck / Ches Smith

5. Went to Kenny’s Castaways instead for Pete Robbins, Simon Jermyn, Oscar Noriega, Ches Smith

Pete Robbins and Oscar Noriega, alto saxophone / Simon Jermyn, bass guitar / Ches Smith and John Hollenbeck, drums

This sounded great,actually, but unfortunately it was quite crowded again, so I just stayed for a couple tunes…

6. Quickly checked out le Poisson Rouge and Nels Cline Singers

Nels Cline, guitar / Yuka C. Honda, keyboard / Scott Amendola, drums & electronics / Trevor Dunn, bass

It was quite crowded and didn’t seem like my cup of tea, so I hopped on…

Lucy Woodward

7. Lucy Woodward @ the Bitter End

Chris Bullock, saxophone / Nate Townsley, drums / Michael League, bass / Henry Hey, keys / Bob Lanzetti, guitar / Andy Hunter, trombone / Mike Maher, trumpet / Lucy Woodward, lead vocal

I guess some of those people form Michael League’s band the Snarky Puppy (often performing at Rockwood Music Hall). It was pretty nice. And the Bitter End was the cosiest (if seated) of the Bleecker Street venues and allowed a bit less stressful listening (although they had a pretty intimidating two drink minimum per person per set), so stayed there until the next band. Especially as, at that point, the lines outside had become pretty scary and finding a seat in any of the venues wasn’t that easy anymore…

Chris Morrissey w/ Aaron Parks, Mark Guiliana, Ben Wendel, Nir Felder

8. Chris Morrissey @ the Bitter End

Chris Morrissey, bass / Mark Guiliana, drums / Aaron Parks, piano / Ben Wendel, saxophone / Nir Felder, guitar

Stayed @ the Bitter End for this, but unfortunately it turned out to be a little bit of a disappointment…Not even sure, why exactly: maybe the compositions weren’t intriguing for my ear or was it just an off night or what… Aaron Parks played some beautiful solos, but despite that, it wasn’t that interesting, somehow. So I left after 3 or 4 tunes.

9. Another attempt to get into Zinc Bar, this time successful. Heard 3 or 4 tunes by Sketchy Black Dog.

Misha Piatigorsky, piano / Chris Wabich, drums / Danton Boller, bass / Liv Wagner, violin / Hilary Castle, violin / Colin Benn, viola / Agnes Nagy, cello

Sketchy Black Dog

The hardest to get in to, Zinc Bar was grooving that night… Misha’s set was about half way when we got there: and the atmosphere was hot. Great playing by everybody in the band, the string quartet sounded meticulous (+ it looked great how the women, dressed in red, were positioned on stage, encircling Misha behind the piano. Very sexy). Chris Wabich on drums was grooving and Misha himself was extremely charming (in a little bit of a Russian sort of way). His soulful phrasing (a quality that has become more and more hard to find lately), great feel for the blues and energy were really enjoyable. The repertoire seemed to consist of pop tunes (heard some Jimi Hendrix, the Police and so on). This is something almost everybody tries to do nowadays, but this band actually made it work, in style.

10. Gilad Hekselman 4tet @ Zinc Bar

 Gilad Hekselman, guitar / Mark Turner, saxophone / Joe Martin, double bass / Marcus Gilmore, drums

Gilad Hekselman 4tet w/ Mark Turner, Joe Martin, Marcus Gilmore

That was the highlight of the whole festival for me: really great band! I think Gilad Hekselman is one of the (quite few, actually,  based on my personal observations and comparisons between now and what I heard 2 years ago) musicians that has evolved a lot during the past couple of years, both as a guitar player and bandleader. He’s also one of the guys who builds the modern and new stuff consciously, on a strong foundation, so it actually sounds convincing (as opposed to somebody that would try to do some of this just because it’s hip and ending up sounding like excerpts from a jazz geek’s exercise book). I got huge respect for this kind of players, looking forward to what’s next from Gilad if he keeps moving on like that… Also, it was refreshing to see them playing without sheet music (except for Mark Turner, but in his case it was pretty understandable, as the melodies were complicated. And his playing didn’t seem to suffer from it anyhow). Joe Martin and Marcus Gilmore were absolutely mind blowing!! These are the real cats.

I wish there was a way to distinguish musicians of this level from the more and more undefinable (almost random) bag of “jazz”. The tools and awareness these musicians have for the improvising art are completely of another level – and they would deserve the credit for it also. It is a tremendous thing, to play this well.

Adam Rudolph's Moving Pictures

11. Adam Rudolph’s Moving Pictures @ Zinc Bar

Adam Rudolph, handrumset, kongos, djembe, tarija, zabumba, thumb pianos, sintir, multiphonic vocal, percussion / Graham Haynes, cornet, flugelhorn, percussion / Kenny Wessel, electric and acoustic guitars, banjo, percussion / Ralph Jones, flute, bass clarinet, alto flute, sop and tenor saxophones, bamboo flutes / Jerome Harris, acoustic bass guitar, slide guitar, vocal, percussion / Matt Kilmer, frame drums, kanjira, bata, percussion / James Hurt, cajon, sogo, kidi, bells, bata, percussion

That was pretty nice, and a contrast from the previous band – more like a world music sort of thing.

12. JD Walter @ Zinc Bar

 JD Walter, vocals / Jim Ridl, piano / Donald Edwards, drums / Luques Curtis, bass

JD Walter, vocals / Jim Ridl, piano / Donald Edwards, drums / Luques Curtis, bass

The only show so far that was a bit behind schedule (started a bit before 2 AM). I liked it, especially the deeply satisfying groove of the bass player, Luques Curtis! But I felt pretty saturated with all the music (and the alcoholic beverages that were softly enforced throughout the night) and decided to call it a day after a few tunes (definitely wouldn’t mind hearing JD Walter’s band more thoroughly some other time, though). Had a ($1) slice of pizza from Gray’s Papaya and arrived home around 4 AM (after some exciting shuttle bus transfers on the Q line). Was a great day!

Nir Felder Quartet @ 55Bar

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Nir Felder Quartet @ the 55 Bar

It is pretty great to be back in town 🙂 Went to hear Nir Felder’s Quartet @ the 55 Bar: Nir Felder on guitar, Mark Guiliana on drums, James Genus on bass and Shai Maestro on keyboards.

As a listener I actually enjoyed most what Shai Maestro got out of the tunes: he had a lot of variety and playfulness in his phrasing, and a variety of musical tools to keep it moving. In the same time, I was a bit perplexed about about Nir’s approach. He sounds really original and takes the music into new territories (away from jazz I guess) but as a listener I feel I’m just not given enough cues to get involved and follow him. It’s difficult to hear any melodic or harmonic movement (mostly just a lot of chromaticism), or feeling of tension and release in the phrasing…I enjoyed the more spacious and beat oriented tunes a lot though (in the end of the first set): I think Nir really excels in the context of creating color and landscapes that give open space for Mark’s drumming. In that sense, Mark’s own Beat Music concept speaks even more clearly to me.

Nir definitely seems to have a following and many fans here as the place was quite packed.  They even have a tap these days (with Brooklyn lager and everything)! Haven’t been there for ages, so I ordered a bottled Yuengling at first and felt a bit out of date… 🙂

55Bar have really great things coming up in the next month, so I’ll try to go back soon.

Written by Ines

December 23, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Mark Guiliana's THING – too good to be true!

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Mark Guiliana's THING @ Rose Live Music

Once again, I was in heaven – for 2 sets @ Rose Live Music, listening to Mark Guiliana. I think he has gotten even better, if it’s possible. I just love the sound of those drums! He had 2 guitar players – Mike Severson and Nir Felder playing, both switching to bass from time to time (did amazing job with that as well! Really impressive!) Wonderful how they connect and make music together!  But yeah. Mark is the man. Can’t get enough. It’s weird – I’ve heard these guys together so many times and I was a bit afraid it might get boring. Not this time – was definitely an inspired one! 😀

Mark Guiliana’s THING – too good to be true!

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Mark Guiliana's THING @ Rose Live Music

Once again, I was in heaven – for 2 sets @ Rose Live Music, listening to Mark Guiliana. I think he has gotten even better, if it’s possible. I just love the sound of those drums! He had 2 guitar players – Mike Severson and Nir Felder playing, both switching to bass from time to time (did amazing job with that as well! Really impressive!) Wonderful how they connect and make music together!  But yeah. Mark is the man. Can’t get enough. It’s weird – I’ve heard these guys together so many times and I was a bit afraid it might get boring. Not this time – was definitely an inspired one! 😀

Nir Felder 4 @ the Jazz Gallery

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Nir Felder 4 @ the jazz Gallery

With Chris Tordini (bass), Frank LoCrasto (piano), Ari Hoenig (drums). I heard the second set. Ari sounded great with the band! I enjoyed it a lot. I was actually coming from another open bar on 6th Avenue – it was crazy – I never realised what a lot of free vodka and a great DJ can do to a person. Looking back at it I think I had one too many there. But yeah, was really lucky to get a ride back to Brooklyn after Jazz Gallery, because the F – the fabulous– train is doing the shuttle bus thing this weekend.

Written by Ines

November 15, 2009 at 4:13 pm

Tuesday-night Brooklyn jazz crawl

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Allison Miller/Brad Jones/Ellery Eskelin @ Barbes

Allison Miller/Ellery Eskelin/ Brad Jones @ Barbes

A weekday night in Brooklyn – went out for some interesting live music :).  First, Allison Miller (drums) /Ellery Eskelin (tenor sax) /Brad Jones (bass) trio @ Barbes. It was pretty crowded. I liked the trio a lot too – some very creative music.

And then Le Grand Dakar @ 285 Grand Ave, Clinton Hill, – an African restaurant with great live music bookings –  featuring Todd Sickafoose (double bass, compositions) with Jenny Scheinman on violin and Pete Robbins on sax that night. Was interesting music (with a little weird intonation at times), but for playing and listening didn’t seem to be the best spot ever, I guess – too much of a restaurant vibe, especially when most people show up to have family dinner.

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Todd Sickafoose with Jenny Scheinman and Pete Robbins @ Le Grand Dakar

Nir Felder @ Royale

Nir Felder @ Royale

And then Royale on 5h Ave for the Tuesday night jam session, this time with Nir Felder’s band (Allison Miller on drums, Gary Wang on bass and a sax player 🙂 ) playing the opening and closing set. They did standards and a really good new original ballad of Nir’s that they were to read on the spot.

Since I don’t want to drink beer anymore it’s a shame most bars here don’t serve tea and coffee. 😀 So it’s either an $8-glass of wine or – soda?

Mark Guiliana's THING @ Rose

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Mark Guiliana's Thing with Jason Lindner and Nir Felder

Mark Guiliana's Thing with Jason Lindner and Nir Felder

Once again MG’s Thing at Rose :D. Jason Lindner on keys and Nir Felder on guitar and for some part of it, BASS 😀 Was great xD. They took a lot of chances that night which was sometimes really rewarding xD. Mark Guiliana sounded incredible, again! And Jason Lindner was really killin’ playing with him this time.  And, they had CDs with Mark’s music for sale  –  5 compositions (no New Jersey Ballad, though) on it featuring MG’s frequent band members Tim Le Febvre, Aaron Dugan, Nir Felder, Neil Persiani, Mike Severson, Meshell Ndegeocello (who also co-produced the CD). I listened to it a little bit already, it sounds really good!