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


  1. […] Peter Apfelbaum, June 16, 2007 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. … […]

    Pingback by Jazz Bass » Blog Archive » jazz bass June 20, 2007 5:12 am | June 20, 2007 | Reply

  2. I also noticed from It Is Written that Apfelbaum has discovered that women can play horns. Which is one more reason to like him, in my book. Weirdly enough, I was re-loading that CD into iTunes when I saw your post (my entire list of songs having perished in a computer disaster back in February).

    Hey, do you get to see the Kamikaze Ground Crew play, too ? How about Fay Victor ?

    Comment by ms_xeno | June 20, 2007 | Reply

  3. Hey ms_x – I haven’t, but I will keep my eye out for the names – always in search of good contemporary jazz. I’ve got to pick up a copy of It is Written. I have his previous album. I can’t wait for them to go into the studio and cut this new material – it’s awesome… And he has a woman guitarist now as well – not just the horns!

    Comment by lucid | June 20, 2007 | Reply

  4. I knew Apfelbaum from his association with KGC first. I need to see what they’ve been up to lately. Victor performs in NYC and Brooklyn, I believe. I scored Cartwheels Through The Cosmos off ebay last week and am still digesting it. There are some nods in there to Sun Ra and to Miles Davis in his post-acoustic period. Victor is very much her own voice, much more subway than supper club. I adore her.

    Comment by ms_xeno | June 20, 2007 | Reply

  5. If you’re looking female horn players look no further than amazing jazzcat Pam Fleming

    Comment by lucidculture | June 20, 2007 | Reply

  6. I should add that one of the founding principles of LC, and our music coverage in particular, is to give equal time to women artists

    Comment by delarue | June 21, 2007 | Reply

  7. 8)

    It’s still news to far too many that women can do more than sing and play the piano. Which is not to denigrate those skills, but I’m just annoyed at the hidebound thinking of supposed “experts” who seem forever stuck in a previous century.

    Comment by ms_xeno | June 22, 2007 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: