Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Fred Hersch and Julian Lage Make a Memorable Live Duo Album

The crowd at the Japanese-owned Kitano Hotel in Murray Hill this past February got a tightly choreographed performance from pianist Fred Hersch and guitarist Julian Lage. Throughout their duo album Free Falling, recorded during their stand there, the two keep a strict tempo: no rubato or free interludes or similar messing around. That rich harmonic convergence is a clinic in  brisk, steady phrasing – imagine a snare-and-hi-hat shuffle beat underneath and the picture is complete. Much of the time it’s hard to distinguish who’s playing what, the performance is that seamless. The two will be at the Blue Note on November 25-27. no  doubt reprising and reimagining many of the songs on the album.

The opening number, Song without Words #4 opens as a neoromantic theme and gives way to a Brazilian-tinged romp highlighted by Lage’s solo – Egberto Gismonti-ish in the best sense of the word. Down Home, a Bill Frisell homage (and a reminder of Hersch’s memorable late-90s collaboration with the guitarist) evokes a strolling Willoughby, Connecticut of the mind (google the Twilight Zone episode if it’s not familiar), a rustic pastoral pre-ragtime theme that gives Lage a launching pad to take it up all the way.

Heartland – for Art Lande – gives Lage the chance to build a gently lyrical wee-hours theme. The title track – a Gismonti homage – is a spectacularly pointillistic neo-baroque duet with some particularly choice lo-hi contrasts from Hersch’s dancing piano and Lage’s Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds glimmer. Sam Rivers’ Beatrice gets reinvented as a similarly lithe song without words – this could be Gismonti too. Song without Words #3: Tango messes with a straight-up Argentine beat, Lage’s lines careful and incisive as Hersch builds to a dance. Stealthiness, a Jim Hall homage, gives Lage a chance to go just thisfar outside: there’s a devious Halloweenishness that Hall would not doubt approve of, whether Lage is jumping at the chance to take it doublespeed or let those double-string bends ring out loud and just long enough to pack a wallop. Gravity’s Pull – writtten for Mary Jo Salter – finally backs off on the steady tempo a little, deviously alluding to the REM college radio hit from a lifetime ago with a tightly interlocking polyrhythmic attack. The two wind up the album with a take of Monk’s Dream which builds to a droll game of chase before Hersch brings everything back to a purist bluesiness.

October 28, 2013 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Free, Fantastic Jazz Festival in Central Park on November 9

The second annual Jazz & Colors festival is coming up on Saturday, November 9 from around noon til 4 PM. It’s sort of Make Music NY for jazz, but on a cool, enjoyable fall day rather than in the middle of a horrible New York summer.

The concept is to have a whole bunch of first-rate New York talent playing two sets of standards, including a couple of unexpected favorites from Gil Scott-Heron and Roy Ayers. Wander through Central Park and see what great surprises you find, or stake out an area and see your favorite act/s for free! There’s a complete schedule and map available here.

The first set, beginning at noon, will include: “Caravan” –  the classic first performed by Duke Ellington in 1936; “Bemsha Swing” by Thelonious Monk, appearing on his acclaimed 1957 LP Brilliant Corners; “Cherokee” – written in 1938 by Ray Noble and recorded by numerous jazz musicians over the decades; “A Night in Tunisia” — one of the signature pieces of Dizzy Gillespie’s big band; “So What” — the opening track on Miles Davis’ 1959 album Kind of Blue; “Footprints” by legendary saxophonist Wayne Shorter; “Maiden Voyage” — one of Herbie Hancock’s best-known compositions; the unmistakable “Take 5” by Paul Desmond, first performed by The Dave Brubeck Quartet on their 1959 album Time Out; and “Tenor Madness” by the Saxophone Colossus, Sonny Rollins, originally a twelve-minute piece recorded in 1956 with John Coltrane.

The second set (following an intermission) will include: Billy Strayhorn’s “Take The A Train”, written by in 1939 for the Duke Ellington Orchestra; the frequently recorded “Harlem Nocturne” (1939) by Earle Hagen; “Stompin’ at the Savoy”, composed by Chick Webb in 1934 and named after the Savoy Ballroom that once existed in Harlem; “Grand Central” by John Coltrane, recorded in 1959 on Cannonball & Coltrane; “Central Park North” by Thad Jones, the title track from the Thad Jones / Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra’s album from 1969; “New York City” by Gil Scott-Heron, arranged by Brian Jackson, from their joint 1976 recording It’s Your World; “A Foggy Day in London Town” by George Gershwin, which appeared in the  1937 Fred Astaire film A Damsel in Distress; “Las Vegas Tango” from The Individualism of Gil Evans (1964); and the jazz-funk-soul classic “We Live in Brooklyn Baby” by pianist Harry Whitaker, appearing on Roy Ayers’ 1971 recording He’s Coming.

October 28, 2013 Posted by | concert, jazz, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City | , , , , , , | Leave a comment