Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Shivkumar Sharma and Zakir Hussain at the Town Hall: Deep Grooves and Great Wit

For a player who aspires to mystically become one with the music on any given night, Indian santoor virtuoso Shivkumar Sharma is one funny guy. At his sold-out show last night at the Town Hall, he and percussionist Zakir Hussain egged each other on, trading deadpan riffage, goosing each other with trick endings, pregnant pauses and a tongue-in-cheek Bollywood or folk music quote or two all the way to a mad dash for the finish line at the end of roughly two hours onstage. While most of their jokes were musical, Sharma isn’t above messing with the audience. He wondered aloud if the numerous toddlers in the house would prove to be sonic competition (they were), and in tuning his 86 strings, turned what could have been an ordeal into a lively, even plaintive melody. Hussain played bad cop to Sharma’s poker-faced good cop for most of the concert, firing off a series of long launching-pad tabla solos that began as total buffoonery and were then toned down a bit. But the most irresistibly comedic moment of the night belonged to Sharma, when he finally decided to outdo his sparring partner – and Hussain was there in a split second, as usual, this time to play straight man as Sharma ramped up his solo with a muffled, muted, over-the-top bombast.

In between jokes, the concert was 180 degrees from that. Sharma is to the santoor – the Indian hammered dulcimer, godfather to the Egyptian qanun, Hungarian cimbalom and the many zithers – what Les Paul was to the guitar. As a young prodigy, Sharma revolutionized the instrument, expanding its range and giving it a sustain that made it compatible with ensembles larger than the small groups employing it for traditional Kashmiri vocal repertoire. Bollywood – which he stoically made fun of, notwithstanding the fact that he’s one of the music’s founding fathers – wouldn’t be the same without his influence. At 75, his fingers are no less nimble on the hammers than they were forty years ago: if anything, he’s even subtler now, judiciously improvising from a steady march to a dancing, rippling, ringingly anthemic energy and alternating fiery pedal-note lines with whispery glissandos as the concert wore on. His first alap (jam) picked up steam when Hussain entered with a stately 4/4 beat that artfully morphed to 7/4 and then the jousting began. Sharma’s second solo improvisation was more deliberate and cut to the chase more quickly, Hussain wasting no time trading licks, shadowing and weaving in between Sharma’s increasingly agitated cadenzas and downward progressions. Their gallop to the finish was a rich reminder that music, in the right hands, doesn’t have to be dark to be deep. Sharma will no doubt be back in town at some point in the not-too-distant future – keep an eye on the World Music Institute calendar.

March 31, 2013 Posted by | concert, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, world music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Funky, Entertaining, Eclectic Tunes and Improvisation from Trombonist Reut Regev

Reut Regev is one of the ringleaders in minor-key jam band Hazmat Modine’s wild brass section, and a unique, original voice on the trombone. She’s got an eclectically fun new album, Exploring the Vibe, out with her stoner funk band, R*Time, which blends elements of jazz, no wave, Ethiopian and Balkan music, among other styles. Regev got the inspiration for the project at a festival in Germany where she had the chance to play with guitarist Jean-Paul Bourelly and realized that the chemistry for a good album was there. The rhythm section here is Regev’s husband Igal Foni on drums and Mark Peterson on bass, with cameos from Kevin Johnson on drums and Jon Sass on tuba. As you would expect, there’s a hypnotic, psychedelic aspect to this; at the same time, Bourelly and Regev utilize a lot of space, judiciously choosing their moments over an undulating groove. Much as a lot of the music has a restlessness and unease, a wry sense of humor pokes out from time to time. It’s a fun ride.

Bourelly plays mostly with a tinge of dirty, natural distortion when he’s not adding subtle ornamentation with his effects. Regev is a very incisive, rhythmic player, although she also likes ambient, shadowy colors. Peterson’s work here is hook-oriented – there are several passages where the drums drop out, or there’s skeletal percussion rattling around and that’s where the bass carries both melody and rhythm. Foni likes the rumbling lows, but like the rest of this crew, he doesn’t waste beats.

The opening track, Drama Maybe Drama, is a tongue-in-cheek diptych, Bourelly going off on a completely unexpected, early Jimmy Page-tinged open-tuned tangent midway through. They follow that with a buzzing, loopy, unresolved interlude and then Montenegro, which hints at reggae, funk and disco before finally hitting some Balkan riffage and then a Middle Eastern-flavored bass solo. Bluegrass and Ethiopian tinges sit side by side in Ilha Bela, a minimalisti but catchy tune with doppler trombone from Regev. Madeleine Forever, a tribute to Foni’s mom, illustrates someone who could be severe but was also very funny, winding up with biting Big Lazy-style skronky funk.

Blue Llamas makes a good segue, again evoking Big Lazy with its allusive chromatics, stomping, spacious blues, hard-hitting guitar and hypnotic rimshot rhythm. OK OJ coalesces toward a camelwalking East African groove with some neat handoffs between the guitar and trombone and a tongue-in-cheek “let’s go” outro. Raw Way, ostensibly a Junior Kimhrough homage, sounds nothing like him: way down beneath all the rumbling and shrieking and free interplay, it’s a terse blues. New Beginning is a weirdly successful, catchy attempt to merge New Orleans funk and Hendrix. There’s also a wryly bluesy guitar miniature and a bizarre stoner soul song sung by Bourelly. Who is the audience for this? Obviously, jazz fans, although people who gravitate toward the more psychedelic side of funk have an awful lot to sink their ears into.

March 27, 2013 Posted by | funk music, jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

More Brilliant Cosmopolitan Tunesmithing From Gilad Atzmon

Israeli-British saxophonist/tunesmith/polymath Gilad Atzmon and his combo the Orient House Ensemble have an intriguing new album out, Songs of the Metropolis, a tribute to great cities around the world. Most of it is streaming at Atzmon’s album page. The band here is the same as on Atzmon’s excellent previous album: the bandleader on alto and soprano saxophones and accordion, along with Frank Harrison on piano, Yaron Stavi on bass and Eddie Hick on drums. As one would expect from an intellect as formidable as Atzmon, it’s no “look ma, I’m playing a tango now” type of genre-hopping; rather, it’s a series of impressions.

Paris, interestingly enough, gets a a staggered latin beat with quivery, bracingly microtonal soprano sax – and then Atzmon switches to accordion and lets the tune relax. Tel Aviv seems to have a split personality, a bounding, energetic groove and also an uneasy undercurrent that shifts from a Zorn/Sexmob cantorial theme to an unexpectedly neat, polyrhythmic reggae b-section. Don’t laugh: reggae is big in Tel Aviv!

Buenos Aires is heartbreakingly beautiful – this long ballad seems to be a requiem, moving slowly from a quiet, moody solo piano intro joined by bowed bass and Atzmon’s slowly diving alto lines. A tentatively steady sway underpins an absolutely morose piano solo followed by Atzmon’s understated, pleading anguish: it’s one of the most devastating songs released this year. A respite from the angst comes with Vienna, which rather predictably goes for old-world ambience, referencing Chopin and skirting the perimeter of schlock. Manhattan, at least through Atzmon’s eyes, is a funky place (and it is), albeit a pensive one, and he doesn’t neglect the latin flavor here. Scarborough gets a lingering, somewhat nostalgic soprano/piano intro, and then it’s obvious that this set not in Maine but in merry olde England, a launching pad for a long, sizzling, modally-fueled, Coltrane-esque Atzmon soprano solo and then a lively workout for the rest of the band.

Moscow gets accordion over heavy drum accents, a Rachmaninoff allusion, and an absolutely gorgeous alto-driven tune with fluttery countermelodies that evokes Ellington at his Suite-era, third-stream peak. Once again, Atzmon backs away from the sturm und drang with the balmy but bracing Somewhere in Italy…and then brings it back with a rippling, refusenik, rhythmic vengeance. He ends with Berlin, a twisted little waltz that alternates between faux beerhall sarcasm and creepy noir cabaret. It’s out now from World Village Music.

March 27, 2013 Posted by | gypsy music, jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tuneful Modes and Masterful Attack from Saxophonist Stan Killian

Texas-bred, New York-based tenor saxophonist Stan Killian has a gift for melodic transparency that makes a solid springboard for soloing and individual contributions. Yet while the group and solo performances on Killian’s new album Evoke are terse and direct, the compositions are what really jump out at you – that and Killian’s playing.  He has a clear, uncluttered tone and a refreshingly direct melodic sensibility, with a passion for modal vamps and keen ear for microtones that he blends seamlessly into the songs’ fabric. And what he’s doing isn’t simply bending blue notes – his attack has more in common with Joe Maneri than, say, Sonny Stitt. The band –Benito Gonzalez on piano, Mike Moreno on guitar,  Corcoran Holt on bass and McClenty Hunter on drums – stays on track with a purposefulness that’s remarkable even by the standards of the New Melodic Jazz. This is an especially tuneful album, all the more considering that many of the songs were inspired by the mechanical sounds of daily urban life, from construction equipment to the thump and clatter of the N and Q trains making their way into the Union Square subway station.

The opening tarck, Subterranean Melody begins as an attractively modal jazz waltz, then goes dancing in 7/4 with Moreno mirroring Killian over Hunter’s carefully crescendoing pulse. A slow ballad,  Evoke juxtaposes Killian’s allusively dark, restrained, lyrical excursions against a moody modal backdrop. Echolalia, another uneasily modal number, makes a good segue with its a brief triplet interlude and hints of a latin groove spiced with Moreno’s judiciously placed clusters.

Kirby works off a a weird cyclical swing, bass and drums hitting on the final downbeat, up to a scurrying, nonchalant sax solo, Moreno again choosing his spots to break up the rhythm, Gonzalez hitting it hard as he takes the song upward. The pensively swaying Beekman33, inspired by a late-night jaunt through Bryant Park, builds from an uneasy stroll to muddled and rhythmic – clearly, what Killian thougth would be a walk in the park turned out to be something else.

Observation is a tribute of sorts to the diversity of New York personalities – if the song’s trickly rhythmic, almost peevish circularity is to be taken at face value, we are obstinate, persistent and leave an impression. The closing track, Hindu is not an exploration of Indian melody but a casually modal platform for Killian to reference some favorite influences from Joe Henderson, to Larry Young, to Woody Shaw, lit up by an incisive Gonzalez solo. Killian is currently on Asian tour and returns to New York for an early-evening, 6 PM album release show on 4/21 at his usual haunt, 55 Bar.

March 27, 2013 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sarah Bernstein Headlines the Vital Vox Festival

Violinist/singer/composer Sarah Bernstein headlined the first night of this year’s Vital Vox Festival at Roulette with a rich understatement that overshadowed the campy ostentation and halfhearted electronic gimmickry that took centerstage earlier in the evening. That her Unearthish duo project with percussionist Satoshi Takeishi  was the bill’s lone highlight speaks to the unfortunate absence of Sabrina Lastman, who was back in Uruguay dealing with a family emergency. While those two artists have considerably different vocal styles, they would have made a good segue. Bernstein doesn’t rely on vocal pyrotechnics because she doesn’t need them: her compositions work subtle contrasts and motivic intrigue rather than theatrics. She describes her work as “minimalist motifs meet avant-jazz formations, integrating sung and spoken poetry with acoustic and electric sound sculpture.” Aptly and modestly put: she is far more interesting than that might seem at face value, a breath of fresh air in a field overpopulated by wannabes and tourists.

In a set that could have gone on for twice as long as it did without losing interest, Bernstein began with calm, nonchalant narration, then sang in a down-to-earth, uncluttered alto, maintaining an often alluring calm even at times when the music grew agitated. Much as she has sizzling violin chops, she doesn’t waste notes: this time out, she limited the occasional blaze of atonalities or frenzied riffage to match her stream of lyrics. Likewise, Takeishi made his beats count, emphatically and minimalistically, lightly enhanced by the occasional echo, reverb or sustain effect via a laptop balanced precariously on his small kit.

Though disquiet and unease were everywhere, Bernstein remained composed. The duo opened with a pensively spacious piece justaposing fragmentary images against atmospherics that grew to a steady, apprehensively swooping interlude. As with the drums, Bernstein limited her use of effects to when they enhanced the music, as with a flange out of ghostly overtones on her second piece, and a looped phrase or two later in the set. Takeishi built to a stately insistence as the trajectory of the set followed an upward arc in contrast to Bernstein’s matter-of-factness. Eerie bell-like tones underscored the brooding crescendos of the third piece; beats that marched and then followed something of a trip-hop groove were introduced as the show went on. A moodily suspenseful, chordally-fueled number reminded of Carla Kihlstedt‘s solo work. A bit later, a couple of other pieces (none of them longer than about four minutes) took a resolutely individualist stance against war and conflict; another followed a theme of escape to a pounding crescendo.

“So much sedation…I don’t know what will happen, I don’t concern myself with the politicians at this point, they don’t have the power…I do desire to make change,” Bernstein asserted quietly over spiky pizzicato and only slightly restrained, tumbling percussion. As resignation gave way to angst, she tackled some tough, register-shifting melismas and made it all look easy: she was working a lot harder than it seemed. The evening’s two most anthemic numbers were bookended around a hypnotic African-flavored vamp that utilized what sounded like mbira (thumb piano) voicings. Throughout it all, Bernstein stayed within herself and drew the listener in. She’s back at Roulette on April 2 at 8 with her jazz quartet which includes pianist Kris Davis, bassist Stuart Popejoy and drummer Ches Smith.

March 26, 2013 Posted by | avant garde music, concert, experimental music, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ran Blake Headlines a Transcendent NEC Jazz Bill at Symphony Space

The New England Conservatory’s New York celebration of forty years of their contemporary improvisation program wound up Saturday night at Symphony Space with Ran Blake alone at the piano. It seemed that the stage lights had gone cobalt blue by then – or maybe that was just synesthesia. The concert’s concluding number was Memphis, a somber Martin Luther King elegy on which Blake intermingled gospel allusions and otherworldly close harmonies, both foreshadowed and then cruelly cut short by a gunshot staccato. It was the essence of noir, both a celebration of life and a grim reminder of everything that threatens what we hold dear. It made a fitting ending for an often exhilaratingly eclectic, emotionally vivid bill featuring NEC alumni and their bandmates from across the generations.

Frank Carlberg and his vocalist wife Christine Correa got the night started with a downtown take on Abbey Lincoln. The Claudia Quintet – drummer John Hollenbeck with bassist Chris Tordini, saxophonist Chris Speed, vibraphonist Matt Moran and accordionist Ted Reichman slowly coalesced into a brightly sweeping, occasionally carnivalesque groove. Their set, the night’s longest, moved from a loping Ethiopian rhythm through lowlit Twin Peaks vibraphone/accordion interludes, niftily polyrhythmic shuffles and finally an animatedly squonking crescendo from Speed.  Fiddler Eden MacAdam-Somer romped solo through an Appalachian flatfoot dance as well as more eclectic, technically dazzling original settings of Rumi poems that sometimes reminded of Carla Kihlstedt’s work.

Pianist Anthony Coleman led a quartet with Ashley Paul on sax and clarinet, Sean Conly on bass and Brian Chase on drums through a partita that alternated between brooding, cantorially-tinged stillness a la Sexmob, and variations on a persistent, uneasily rhythmic circular vamp. Clawhammer banjoist Sarah Jarosz followed with an aptly austere version of a Gillian Welch tune and then teamed up Blake for some playfully biting push-pull on an absolutely lurid version of Abbey Lincoln’s Tender As a Rose, leaving absolutely no doubt that this was a murder ballad.

In what could easily have been a cruel stroke of programming, John Medeski was handed the impossible task of following Blake solo on piano: that he managed not only to not be anticlimactic but to keep the intensity at such a towering peak speaks to how much he’s grown in the past ten years, beginning with an icily otherworldly salute to Blake’s misterioso style and then charging through an expansive, defiantly individualistic, hard-hitting, sometimes wryly messy blend of purist blues, hypnotic eastern resonance, gospel and stride piano. It seemed to sum up everywhere Medeski has been other than with his wildly popular early zeros jamband: he’s at the high point of a career that probably hasn’t reached its summit yet.

Dominique Eade then took the stage solo and swung fearlessly through a number that lept from a torchy nuance to wryly animated, scatting leaps and bounds before being joined by Blake, in a second taking the energy to redline with a mini-set highlighted by a gleaming, rain-drenched, hauntingly cinematic take of The Thrill Is Gone (from their transcendent duo album from a couple of years ago). Christelle Durandy then made the most of her cameo on an unexpectedly verdant, breathily dynamic duo with the iconic pianist who never met a song or a a singer he couldn’t elevate to new levels of white-knuckle intensity. That he ran the NEC improvation program for so long – and still takes part in it – speaks for itself and for the institution.

March 25, 2013 Posted by | concert, folk music, jazz, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The O’Farrill Brothers Band: Smart Kids Having Fun Onstage

At 22, drummer Zack O’Farrill appears to be the senior member of the O’Farrill Brothers band. Friday night at the Jazz Gallery’s new Garment District space on Broadway and 27th Street, it took him about ten seconds to get a sense of the room – and then he had a game plan. Other more experienced, equally extrovered drummers might still cluelessly bash and bounce high frequencies off the walls, but not this guy. Emphasizing the boomy resonance of his toms with a contrasting, sustained shimmer from the cymbals, he found an angle that worked perfectly with the gallery’s acoustics. Subtle as his attack was, it was the furthest thing from minimalist, as he shifted meters, threw occcasional, wry elbows at his brother, 18-year-old trumpeter Adam O’Farrill or guitarist Gabe Shnider, and leapfrogged amiably when the songs hit several insistent, pedaled interludes. It was a performance as workmanlike as it was inspired and nuanced.

No one in this sextet – which also included pianist  Adam Kromelow, bassist Raviv Markovitz and tenor saxophonist Livio Almeida – ever overplayed. Their contributions all worked in the service of the songs. Yet their team esthetic never overshadowed the sheer fun they were having onstage – if anything, it enhanced the feeling. This group employs a lot of devices to have fun with: false endings; expansive duels or pairings of instruments; circular motives; increasingly agitated or animated passages of pass-the-baton, and first-rate tunesmithing that draws on decades of jazz from Ellington to Eddie Palmieri and points much closer to the present day. Space is also an important element in their music: throughout the show, there was always plenty of breathing room and often an ongoing sense of suspense as a result. The O’Farrill legacy- which began with grandfather Chico O’Farrill and continues with their father Arturo – includes a gift for rhythm, so it was no surprise to see Zack leading the charge from one meter to another, sometimes halfway hidden, sometimes strikingly sudden.

Does Markovitz have Cuban roots? From his terse, melodic, often chordally-charged pulse, it would seem so. He was especially solid when the drums went ambling around the perimeter. Schnider played a lot of horn voicings, but he also has a feel for Memphis soul and what appears to be a deep bag of Muscle Shoals licks. Almeida’s role this time out was to be the group’s modal hitman, trading or pairing off against Kromelow’s nocturnal glimmer or Shnider’s biting single-note lines with an aching, haunting, simmering sustain that finally cut loose with a jaunty skronk on the night’s shapeshifting, closing partita, Monster House. From the tricky tempo shifts of the opening number, Drive, through the moody neoromanticism of Monet and then a creepy Brazilian trio piece with nimble sixteen-year-old guest bassist Daryl Johns, Adam chose his spots, feeling for where the rest of the aircraft was before judiciously lifting off and then never looking back. That’s a reference to the group’s debut album Sensing Flight, whose release they were celebrating – if its energy is anything like this show, it transcends any notion of what a prodigy is or how young musicians should play. Answer: just like old ones. Music transcends time, and this group knows that better than most players their age…or any other age. .

March 24, 2013 Posted by | concert, jazz, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Night to Remember with Tift Merritt and Simone Dinnerstein

Earlier generations might not be able to handle the concept of of juxtaposing Appalachian and classical music on the same stage. But songwriter/bandleader Tift Merritt and pianist Simone Dinnerstein have their fingers on the pulse of the future. Thursday night at their sold-out duo performance at Merkin Concert Hall, they held the crowd riveted with an intense, intimate performance that put each musician’s strengths under the microscope as they made unexpected connections between traditions from throughout the ages on both sides of the pond, Dinnerstein’s fiery baroque and Romantic interludes juxtaposed against Merritt’s elegantly plaintive chamber pop. Most of the material was drawn from the two’s nocturnal song suite, Night, just released (and reviewed at Lucid Culture’s sister blog New York Music Daily).

The stage set foreshadowed what the concert would be: a pair of comfortable padded chairs at either side of the stage in low light from a couple of floor lamps. Merritt teased the crowd – “We’re not going to talk to you …we’re still not going to talk to you” – as the two made their way from Schumann, through a solo acoustic version of Merritt’s  plaintive Only in Songs, then glimmering themes by Schubert and Purcell. Dinnerstein’s gravitas and flinty irony balances Merritt’s biting wit and mercurial persona: they are very different peas in the same pod and obviously good friends. Merritt has established herself as a southern intellectual in the tradition of Faulkner and Welty; Dinnerstein represents for the old guard. Of the many eye-opening moments at this concert, the most impressive were when the two ventured into jazz, with a take of Billie Holiday’s Don’t Explain that was so sensual it was lurid, and a bit later an expansive, commissioned work from Brad Mehldau, I Shall Weep. Swing is a rare quality in a classical musician, but Dinnerstein has it: both she and Merritt have futures in jazz if they feel like it.

But it’s more likely that they’ll continue to cross-pollinate. Dinnerstein revealed a fondness for George Crumb and played resonant dulcimer lines inside the piano behind Merritt’s finely nuanced, wary mezzo-soprano. Merritt told how Dinnerstein had introduced her to an operatic rendition of the English folk ballad I Will Give My Love an Apple that Merritt instantly recognized from its slightly less antique American folk version – and then they played it as moody, lingering  art-rock. The biggest hit of the night was Dinnerstein’s rapidfire romp through the Allemande and Courante (make that tres courante) from Bach’s French Suite No. 5 in G Major. Although Merritt admitted to being shy about playing the piano in front of her bandmate, she impressed with her own tersely brooding, gospel-fueled take of Small Talk Relations.

Dinnerstein’s subtle dynamic shifts followed a trajectory from bittersweetly neoromantic to bracingly modern throughout Daniel Felsenfeld’s Cohen Variations, a suite based on Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne. After Merritt sang a rapt, quiet version of Patty Griffin’s Night, the concert reached its peak with the poignant, crescendoing, saturnine anthem Feel of the World, which Merritt had written for her well-traveled grandmother. The duo encored with a very clever mashup of Gabriel Faure’s Apres un Reve with La Vie en Rose, which Merritt sang in flawless French. The two are soon off on US tour; the schedule is here. Dinnerstein is also at the Greene Space for an on-air performance of Bach’s Goldberg Variations on March 28 at noon; the performance is free but tickets are required.

March 23, 2013 Posted by | classical music, concert, folk music, jazz, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jazz Drum Heaven This Weekend at Drom

This weekend, March 23 and 24 at Drom (85 Ave. A),there’s a jazz drum summit to end all jazz drum summits. An all-weekend pass can be obtained as cheaply as $20 or even $15 with student ID at the door. With as many generations of A- list drummers – the legendary Jimmy Cobb, Tain Watts, Billy Hart, EJ Strickland and others – leading their respective bands, early arrival is highly advised. Music begins each night at 7 PM. Revive Music’s Meghan Stabile put together the bill; Revive’s Eric Sandler took some time to share his insight on how exciting this is going to be:

Lucid Culture’s Correspondent: First, congratulations on getting all of these artists together on the same bill. That was definitely not easy since they’re all so busy. How long did it take you to pull this together?

Eric Sandler: The Generations of the BEAT Festival is definitely an idea that has been on our minds for quite a while from a conceptual standpoint. As far as putting it together, it’s always fun from a scheduling standpoint, but throughout the years our team has become pretty great at making our live events happen to their greatest potential. All of these drummers immediately realized the historical significance behind the event, so convincing them was not a struggle at all!

LCC: You have several generations of drummer bandleaders represented, from Jimmy Cobb, to Tain, to the Cookers’ Billy Hart, to the up-and-coming EJ Strickland. Obviously you did your homework. Are you a drummer as well? What’s your agenda with this?

ES: It’s not so much doing our homework as being a part of the scene. Revive Music Group has become a staple in the live music scene both through our live events and our online journal, The Revivalist. Our agenda is really just to expose as many people as possible to the best music that is out there. It is absolutely incredible to have artists like Jimmy Cobb and Billy Hart still performing. As musicians and fans ourselves, this is not something anyone should miss. Moreover, with the Generations of the BEAT Festival we are bringing together different generations of artists, an integral aspect of progressing the music and fostering innovation.

LCC: Drummer-led bands are usually especially good, in my experience. Do you agree? Why do you think that is?

ES: Drummers have a very unique perspective, compared to everyone else in the band. They tend to think in shapes, colors, forms, and rhythms in addition to harmonies and melodies. In short, they are generally more focused on making the music feel good than anything else. A great drummer can really make a band. Conversely, a bad drummer can really ruin one too. It is very interesting that drummers tend to make incredible bandleaders as well as producers. I have to think it has something to do with how they hear music.

LCC: I’ve got a much easier explanation: everybody needs a good drummer! Drummers always have the deepest address books – because the good ones play with so many other great artists. Now – do you have a list of the supporting musicians? I know that up-and-coming bassist Michael Feinberg – who recently put out an intriguing Elvin Jones tribute album – is playing with Billy Hart, one of the few guys I would trust to do justice to Elvin…

ES: Michael Feinberg’s tribute to Elvin Jones with Billy Hart will most certainly be one of the most exciting parts of the BEAT Festival. Funny enough, when we interviewed Michael about the festival, he told us that he was a little nervous to perform for so many amazing drummers both onstage and in the audience. I think being a bass player in a drummer’s festival is a tough role to fill, but Michael and the other bass players are surely up to the task — otherwise they wouldn’t be performing at the festival. You can check out more info on the bands that will be performing on The Revivalist. In addition to putting together these live events, we also strive to educate audiences about the music. For the Generations of the BEAT Festival we also launched an online Drummer’s Issue to feature the artists in interviews and analytical profiles.

LCC: No Roy Haynes on the bill, I see. Too busy? Did you ask?

ES: We have something very special planned for Roy Haynes on the horizon. For now that’s all I’m going to say.

LCC: Are these two concerts basically repertory material, or are they focused on original compositions from the artists involved?

ES: A mix of both actually. A lot of the drummers are bringing original compositions to perform with their groups, but there will also be many tribute pieces within the sets as a nod to the drummers who influenced the performers. Keep your ears perked for a lot of surprises.

LCC: Are there any $15 two-day passes left? If so, how and where can you get one?

ES: $15 festival passes are available all weekend for any students who can present a valid student ID at the door. Presale tickets are also available.

LCC: This is an exciting bill. Is there going to be room on the floor for people who want to get up and dance?

ES: There’s always room to dance!

March 22, 2013 Posted by | concert, jazz, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bassist Charnett Moffett Plays Solo at All the Usual Swanky Spots

This is not a bass blog – although it is a bass-friendly blog. Bassists by nature being social animals – like it or not, there isn’t an overwhelming demand for solo bass work – it’s rare that a bassist gets to play more than a few solo gigs in his or her life. It’s rarer still that such a first-rate player as Charnett Moffett would be playing a solo tour of swanky New York jazz clubs, all by himself. He’s got a new album out – if the haunting, epic Arabic taqsim that closes it is any indication, it’s amazing.

The “tour” kicks off on March 29-30 at 9 PM at Smoke, an enticing opening slot for the ageless, eternally soulful Frank Wess and his quartet. On April 8, Moffett is at Smalls at 7:30, on April 9 at Dizzy’s Club at Jazz at Lincoln Center, time TBA.

April 10, Moffett plays a 7 PM solo gig at Iridium and then runs down to the Flatiron district for an 11 PM set at the Metropolitan Room. April 11, he’s at Birdland at 6; April 14 he takes a bit of a break from the solo marathon with a duo gig backing devastatingly eclectic chanteuse/composer Jana Herzen at the Blue Note for a brunch show starting at half past noon. The “tour” winds up that night with the final solo gig at Joe’s Pub at 9 PM. If you’re a member of the four-string fraternity or sorority, you should see one of these shows.

March 22, 2013 Posted by | concert, jazz, Live Events, Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment