Lucid Culture


Concert Review: The Dave Ullman Quartet at Sidewalk, NYC 1/8/09

Yet further proof that sometimes just being there gets you there: the best show of the week might be the one you never planned on seeing. Has Sidewalk ever booked a jazz act? OK, the Moonlighters, but ordinarily it’s a singer-songwriter joint. Guitarist Dave Ullman may have been slumming but he definitely brought his A-game throughout a warmly melodic, captivating set. This must be No Wasted Notes Week: in addition to this show and Edison Woods at le Poisson Rouge a couple of days ago, Bill Frisell is playing the Blue Note this weekend. Ullman fits right in. He’s clearly one of those New New York jazz guys who thinks outside the box, listens widely and diversely and writes in a lyrical style built on riffs, hooks and ideas rather than just endless solos around the horn, treating the audience to a too-brief set of six songs without words.


The rhythm section was killer, the drummer nimbly adding an element of surprise with some a small army of deviously chosen, incisive cymbal accents, the bassist sharing the same admirably minimalist, tasteful purism. The tenor player brought in a bluesy, blue-sky elation, flying over Ullman’s frequently wary, sometimes ominous, occasionally Americana-inflected playing. After a breezy, bouncy opening number, Ullman opened the next track with an eerie, noir passage that wouldn’t have been out of place in the Radiohead catalog. Their third song, titled “New” even though it’s old now set a soul-inflected melody over a tangoish beat, the bassist taking a subtly stinging, pointillistic solo that finally built to a sudden crescendo. And then it was over. After that came a fast shuffle, guitar and sax working the melody bracingly over a suspenseful, minimalist bass pulse. Their last song was straight-up, motoring along with a fast new wave bassline and a clave beat, Ullman finally going for the jugular with a fiery series of descending chords. Bands this good usually cost…well, whatever the Blue Note is charging for Frisell. Watch this space for info on further gigs from this excellent crew.

January 9, 2009 - Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews

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