Lucid Culture


Peter Apfelbaum, June 16 – Jazz Gallery

posted by Lucid

I first encountered Peter Apfelbaum when I was approached by a friend of long time Trombonist Josh Roseman to record a show of theirs in 2001. I was happy to do it, as a jazz head and an amateur recordist. I loved the show & cherished the recordings. For reasons inexplicable, I hadn’t gone to a Peter Apfelbaum date since then… until this past Saturday.

Peter has not only expanded the scope of his writing, but he has expanded the scope of his band. From Berkeley in 1977 when he first made a name for the ‘Hieroglyphics’, Peter has always shown a flair for blending African, Middle Eastern and American jazz idioms into a festive stew of riveting tunes, tonalities, idiosyncrasies – and extending them in his live shows with solos nodding to everyone from Zorn to Ponty.

This band, in its current configuration, surpasses anything I’ve heard in the past. It’s a 12 piece – traps, bass, 2 guitars, violin, 6 horns [with some reeds], and Peter. The night I saw them, it was all new material – no song names, with the only pauses to introduce band members. Peter has truly become a band leader. While in the past resting on the chops of his band to execute far simpler songs, with the complexity his writing now achieves, he comes into his own directing an ensemble of formidable musicians.

For me, the high point was the amazing violin solo in the third song by Charlie Burnham. From a traditional violin sound he transformed into a Jan Hammer/John McLoughlin screaming cat with a simple use of the wah – and a facial expression that left me wandering between sex, death and ecstasy.

Peter’s new music starts from tropes similar to his older material. He is a fan of a groove that encompasses anything form North African folk to McCoy Tyner piano idiomatics, but with his expanded line up, the veritable ‘wall of horns’ produces a symphony of harmonic & rhythmic ideas that cross paths, play in their own sandbox, and come back for a dive at the public pool. The band plays polyrhythms, odd time signatures and added measures with a tightness one would expect from an orchestra.

 Peter Apfelbaum and the NY Hieroglyphics are a must see when they’re in town – and it’s a very reasonable ticket for jazz this good.

June 20, 2007 Posted by | Live Events, Music, New York City, Reviews | 7 Comments