Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

One of New York’s Most Reliably Gripping Saxophonists Gets Busy Onstage This Month

With his misty tone and lyrical sensibility, alto saxophonist Dmitri Baevsky has been a fixture in the New York jazz scene and a prominent member of the various Mingus bands for the last several years. His latest album Soundtrack – streaming at Spotify – came out right at the tail end of the black hole that was the winter and spring of 2021 here and like so many other records from that time, didn’t get the exposure it deserved. Baevsky has a lot of gigs coming up around town. He’s at the Django leading a quartet on June 18 at 7:30 PM for $25. Then he’s at Smalls on June 24 and 25, with sets at 7:30 and 9:30 PM for the same cash price at the door.

The album is a mix of classics, a couple of standard ballads and a couple of characteristically tuneful originals showcasing Baevsky’s understatedly breathtaking technique: he makes those glissandos and slithery arpeggios seem effortless. He opens with a swing version of a well-known, wistful Russian tango by Vasily Solovyov-Sedoi, Evening Song, pianist Jeb Patton’s incisive chords and drummer Pete Van Nostrand’s lithely accented groove anchoring Baevsky’s meticulous, understatedly daunting articulation.

Baevsky kicks off Vamos Nessa, by Joao Donato with a ridiculously funny quote before tiptoeing his way over the rhythm section’s emphatic syncopation. The first of Baevsky’s two originals here is Baltiskaya, a good-naturedly lilting, vampy swing tune that gives him a long launching pad for exploration while bassist David Wong walks the changes.

Likewise, the group swing Sonny Rollins’ Grand Street matter-of-factly, downplaying the original’s stern gospel ambience: Van Nostrand’s counterintuitive flair behind the kit is one of the album’s consistently strong points.

Patton’s gritty, loose-limbed, bluesyh attack fuels the group’s take of Horace Silver’s The Jody Grind. La Chanson de Maxence, a Michel Legrand tune, is a fondly bittersweet tune and a prime example of Baevsky’s warmly cosmopolitan appeal.

Baevsky makes short work of the stairstepping staccato in Over and Out, one of his earlier compositions. They do Dexter Gordon’s Le Coiffeur as a light-fingered bossa; their take of Ornette Coleman’s Invisible is brisk and seems to be over in a flash.

Next up are a couple of familiar ballads. Autumn in New York has a matter-of-factly nocturnal sway, then the group toy with the rhythm in Stranger in Paradise, with a hint of a disquieting, Lynchian edge.

Patton’s longest feature here is a driving version of Ahmad Jamal’s Tranquility, with a surprisingly un-tranquil Baevsky solo. John Lewis’ Afternoon in Paris makes a carefree closer to an album that’s as good a makeout record as it is a party record.

June 11, 2022 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Martin Wind’s New York Bass Quartet Have Irresistible Fun Beyond the Low Registers

Bassist Martin Wind‘s new album Air with his New York Bass Quartet – streaming at Bandcamp – is sublimely ridiculous fun for those of us who gravitate to the low registers. Like most members of the four-string fraternity, Wind and his accomplices – Gregg August, Jordan Frazier and Sam Suggs – are heartily aware of the comedic possibilities that abound in the F clef. Yet Wind’s arrangements here are as erudite as they are irresistibly amusing. As party music, this is pretty hard to beat. And to Wind’s further credit, he uses pretty much the entirety of his axe’s sonic capability – there are places where these guys sound like a cello rock band or even a string quartet.

They open with a sotto-voce, tiptoeing four-bass arrangement that sticks pretty close to a famous Bach piece that a psychedelic group from the 1960s ripped off for the most-played radio single in British history. Then Wind and his merry band make low-register bluegrass out of it – and guest Gary Versace comes in on organ as the group pivot to a lowdown funk groove. The solo, of course, is for bass – that’s August doing the tongue-in-cheek pirouette.

The third track, a Beatles medley that starts with Long and Winding Road and continues with an emphasis on the chamber pop side of the Fab Four, is even funnier, considering how artfully Wind weaves the individual themes together.

They do Birdland as a clave tune, and then as funk, with Lenny White on drums and Versace on organ again: again, no spoilers. Matt Wilson’s suspenseful tom-toms and Versace’s misterioso organ simmer beneath a surprising plaintiveness and judicious solos all around in an epic arrangement of Charlie Haden’s Silence.

Wind’s first original here, I’d Rather Eat is a hypnotic, rhythmically pulsing, judiciously contrapuntal piece that brings to mind cellist Julia Kent’s more insistently minimalist work. The group’s gorgeously bittersweet take of Pat Metheny’s Tell Her You Saw Me has the bassists plucking out piano voicings, plus Versace on piano and accordion.

Wind’s other tune here, Iceland Romance is a tango with surprising poignancy but also several good jokes, They bring the album full circle by revisiting Procol Harum – woops, Bach. Whether you call this classical music, or the avant garde, or jazz, it’s an awful lot of fun.

Wind’s next gig is with Wilson’s great Honey and Salt quintet at the Saratoga Jazz Festival on June 25. And Verrsace is leading a trio, from the piano, at Mezzrow on June 15 with sets at 7:30 and 9. Cover is $25 cash at the door.

June 10, 2022 Posted by | classical music, jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Intriguing Evening With Trombone, Vocals and a Quintet in Chinatown Tomorrow Night

There’s an especially interesting show tomorrow night, June 9 at the Django at 10:30 PM which originally had trombonist Steve Davis, a purposeful but equally outside-the-box player, headlining. It turns out that it’s his wife Abena Koomson-Davis – leader of protest song choir the Resistance Revival Chorus – who’s fronting a quintet including her husband alongside pianist Rick Germanson, bassist Nat Reeves and drummer Jason Tiemann. Cover is $25.

Koomson-Davis’ choral group got the thumbs-up here for an early performance at City Winery in 2017, so it should be interesting to see what political fearsomeness she brings to the stage in a more intimate setting. One counterintuitive choice of album to get ready for the show with is Onward & Upward, the next-to-last recording by the great drummer Ralph Peterson. It came out during the black hole of 2020, features Davis on trombone and is streaming at Spotify. The album title also has special resonance for this blog because it’s a key line from the best song released that year, Battery Park by Karla Rose.

The record is a continuation of Peterson’s late-career determination to carry on the Art Blakey legacy. The focus is hard-hitting riffs and solo-centric arrangements, perhaps ironically with more focus than the Blakey band tended to have. It’s mostly a series of quintet numbers featuring a mix of established and up-and-coming talent.

They open with the sleek, vampy Forth and Back, packed with short punchy solos from trumpeter Phillip Harper, tenor saxophonist Jean Toussaint, alto saxophonist Craig Handy, pianist Joanne Brackeen and bassist Peter Washington, eventually ceding to the bandleader, who goes to the well for a light-fingered display of boom.

Bassist Melissa Slocum has balletesque fun through a couple of solos in the tightly swinging Sonora, tenor saxophonist Craig Handy taking the energy up several notches. Davis and Harper bubble and soar before Peterson works his way around his legendary, orchestral-size kit.

The group scamper through the album’s title track on the pulse of Zaccai Curtis’ piano, Davis choosing his spots before handing off to Harper and then Peterson. Waltz For Etienne and Ebony begins bright and brassy and shifts to a coy series of follow-me phrases and a devious solo bass outro.

Robin Eubanks gets a long, goodnaturedly burbling trombone solo in the tightly swaying Red Black and Green Blues, trumpeter Brian Lynch driving it upward. Un Poco Haina, a Curtis tune, has a characteristically hard-hitting, syncopated latin attack with the pianist firing off spirals and handing off to bassist Essiet Essiet.

Tenor saxophonist Bill Pierce contributes Sudan Blue, a brisk swing tune with a whirling Kevin Eubanks guitar solo, the composer flying overhead., The group go back to waltz time for Davis’ dusky, gorgeous, distantly flamenco-tinged Portrait of Lord Willis, with his calm, stately solo. calmly and efficiently.

Brackeen’s Tricks of the Trade is a rapidfire vehicle for Lynch and Toussaint solos, while Lynch’s El Grito, a bitingly syncopated latin septet tune, gets a spectacular, quote-filled solo from Curtis and a sizzling timbale solo from Reinaldo Dejesus. They close with bassist Lonnie Plaxico’s funky, vampy Along Came Benny. with cheery solos from Handy, Lynch and Robin Eubanks.

What killed Peterson? An aggressive cancer, which is a common consequence of the lethal Covid injection. He taught at Berklee, which requires it.

June 8, 2022 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cleverly Amusing New Tunes and a Long Island City Show From Trombonist John Yao

Trombonist John Yao has one of the most distinctive voices in the New York jazz scene. His music has a translucent logic that can go completely off the rails in a burst of humor. Yet he can be just as poignant. His latest album Off-Kilter, with his three-horn band Triceratops (due to hit his Bandcamp page any minute) is exactly that, although it’s just as contiguous. The horn charts are playful, often comedic. yet erudite in a John McNeil-type vein: it’s definitely Yao’s funniest record to date. He and the band are playing the album release show at 5 PM on June 12 outdoors on the flatbed trailer at Culture Lab in Long Island City

The opening number, Below the High Rise is a steady, determined, ruggedly anthemic tune. Yao’s staggered harmonies with saxophonists Jon Irababon and Billy Drewes make this ensemble sound much larger than it is, reflecting his work with big bands. A wryly triangulated conversation reaches toward Keystone Kops territory as Mark Ferber’s drums get into it.

The conversation gets all twisted up in the next cut, Labyrinth….and then Yao brings everybody together for a gorgeous bit of golden age 50s swing before the shenanigans start again. Irabagon thrives on this like he tends to do, and the crew throwing elbows as Yao and the rhythm section motor in for the basket are a typical touch.

Interlude No. 1 is a luminous, spacious intro of sorts livened by Ferber’s animated rimwork, making a good segue with the next track, Quietly. Bassist Robert Sabin launches into a catchy clave groove after the radiantly harmonized horns introduce it, with diverging voices, a wistful Yao solo and a welcome, slinky return.

Yao goes for a wide-angle harmonic balance with the saxes in the catchy Crosstalk: the beep-beep horns, a frequent trope here, are predictably amusing, as is another increasingly combative exchange that may be more scripted than we realize. The way Yao sneaks his way back to swing is a lot of fun.

He and the saxes take their time working their way into Unfiltered, a brightly syncopated ballad, Sabin choosing his spots for a solo as Ferber edges around the perimeter. The Morphing Line is a deceptive, shapeshifting diptych: the rhythm section work a hypnotically churning, gritty drive beneath calm, sustained overlays, then it grows more wary and frenetic over an altered second line shuffle.

The horns run coy concentric circles as Ferber chews the scenery a little in the brief Interlude No. 2. Yao winds up the album with the title track, which bears a suspicious resemblance to a famous Miles Davis tune until Sabin veers away from his octaves, Irabagon goes fluttering upward to an unexpected calm, then the band eventually take it as far outside as anything they do here. There is bound to be plenty of good energy like this at the Queens show.

June 7, 2022 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Summery Sounds From Guitarist Yuval Amihai and Pianist David Kikoski

Go to pianist David Kikoski‘s discography page, and as you would expect there are plenty of albums where he’s the bandleader. Scroll down to his sideman projects and you’ll find that the very first album listed is the Mingus Big Band’s sizzling Live at the Jazz Standard album from 2010. Big surprise: Kikoski is a big reason why that album is one of the most exhilarating of the past dozen years. He’s lyrical, he has an edge and he gets a ton of gigs, which is why he doesn’t often get a chance to lead his own projects here. He’s doing that this June 11 with a trio at 10:30 PM at Mezzrow. Cover is $25 cash at the door; he’s back in that intimate space on June 25.

Kikoski is also very versatile. One new album that gives him a chance to go in a direction he hasn’t gone in much lately is Israeli guitarist Yuval Amihai’s My 90s Summer, streaming at Soundcloud. Kikoski plays Rhodes electric piano on this one, which in general is closer to soul and downtempo music than it is jazz.

Amihai opens with the title track, a swaying, summery soul theme with a balmy horn chart: Julieta Eugenio on tenor sax, Wayne Tucker and Itai Kriss on flute giving way to carefree solos by Amihai and Kikorski and a big cheery crescendo. It sets the stage for much of the rest of the record.

The band prowl like a lynx, sleek on its feet but lethal in MEDB (Middle Eastern Desert Blues), with deliciously simmering harmonies from the bandleader and Kikoski’s Rhodes. It doesn’t sound the least bit Malian and it doesn’t sound particularly Middle Eastern either. as Kikoski winds his way through a twinkling, nocturnal solo.

Gwen’s Groove is a vampy trip-hop launching pad for bright, matter-of-fact solos from guitar and Rhodes. The band reach for a balmy, summery lullaby soul sound in Song For Sasha. They follow that with the aptly titled Smiles, Kikoski switching to acoustic piano for a typically glistening, rather impetuous interlude over the tiptoeing syncopation of bassist Eric Wheeler and drummer Jeremy Dutton. It’s the best and most traditional jazz number on the record.

Amihai revisits the furtive nocturnal slink of the album’s second number, if less ominously, in Yitgaber. The album’s big epic is Coming Through, which sounds like a late 70s/early 80s Steely Dan song without words, Kikoski back on piano for an emphatically strolling, blues-infused solo. Amihai gives the record a warmly swaying coda with Saturday Afternoon.

Most of this is not heavy music, but Amihai really knows how to create a mood and keep it going. Clearly, the 90s were a happy time for him. How little those of us who were there knew how much we would eventually miss those

June 6, 2022 Posted by | funk music, jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, soul music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A First-Class, Thoughtful Trumpeter Onstage in Queens Tonight

A few days ago this blog enthused about the Ulysses Owens Big Band‘s debut album, a dynamic concert performance immortalized via what sounds like a monitor mix. Here’s another one: trumpeter Jonathan Saraga‘s Live at Nocturne, recorded in concert at that Denver boite in August of last year. It’s a tight set despite the expansiveness of the individual numbers. Saraga and his quintet really stretch out here, sometimes as much as eighteen minutes at a time. Even better, Saraga has released this – and other first-class live recordings – as free downloads at Bandcamp. More artists should do that: it’s truth in advertising. Saraga and band are playing tonight, June 2 at 7 PM on the flatbed trailer out back of Culture Lab in Long Island City

They edge their way into what will become more than seventeen minutes of the album’s first song, It Could Happen to You, introducing a loose-limbed swing. The bandleader takes his time, choosing his spots, rising and falling, drummer Colin Stranahan his usual colorful self behind the kit. Likewise, guitarist Max Light’s steady, strolling solo, ceding to pianist Eric Gunnison’s interchange of ripple and emphasis as bassist Gonzalo Teppa tirelessly walks the changes.

Next up is almost fourteen brisk minutes of Freddie Hubbard’s Birdlike, Stranahan churning the waters: this time the arsonist in charge is Light. Saraga returns to centerstage in this version of If I Should Lose You: assuming the tracklist matches the setlist, Saraga’s command of pacing, whether in a song or over the length of a concert, is masterful.

The group pick things up again with Cedar Walton’s Bolivia, fueled by Light’s simmering eighth-note runs. The decision to play If I Should Fall in Love pretty much straight up doesn’t work with the crowd – you can hear the chatter level rising through this cheeseball despite Stranahan’s attempts to liven things up.

A return to the jazz canon with Sonny Rollins’ Airegin pays off, Saraga’s clusters and chromatics over Stranahan’s often floating swing, at least when he’s not throwing elbows with Light. The band really go to town in Like Someone in Love, Saraga blazing right out of the gate, Light wowing the crowd with his Wes Montgomery licks, Gunnison and Teppa finally breaking the rhythm out of the swing box.

Likewise, they play Sam Rivers’ Beatrice with more reckless abandon: by now, they’re into the second set, Saraga and Teppa are more animated and the whole band sound well-oiled through a warm, aptly nocturnal ending. The game plan is the same for the cascades and chugging drive of My One and Only Love

Nica’s Dream, the Horace Silver tune, gets a cheery salsa groove and spiky acidity from Light and Gunnison, then Teppa gets ghostly with his bow. By now they are really cooking, and the latinized, rhythmically shifting take of Darn That Dream makes a great segue. They wind up the night with The Song Is You, Stranahan getting shamanic, then hitting a charging swing for Gunnison and Saraga to scramble along with. Solo-centric? For sure. Standards in lieu of originals? Yeah, but it’s an entertaining jam.

June 2, 2022 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Gorgeously Anthemic New Album From Cellist Erik Friedlander

Cellist Erik Friedlander‘s new album A Queens’ Firefly – streaming at youtube – is one of the most tuneful and anthemic releases in a long and eclectic career. It’s his most energetic album in a long time: could it be that he and his bandmates were jumping out of their shoes just to be able to record again after more than a year in lockdown hell? Whatever the case, Friedlander’s quartet with pianist Uri Caine, bassist Mark Helias and drummer Ches Smith simmer and glimmer with an often darkly kinetic majesty.

They open with the title track, a warmly vamping nocturne set to an altered waltz beat. The bandleader’s airy midrange lines float over a tiptoeing Helias solo, Caine adding a spacious, lyrical solo.

Track two, Match Strikes has a funky sway, Caine’s incisive chords holding the center along with Helias’ pulse, then the bassist joins harmonies with the cello’s terse blues phrasing. Chandelier is a bouncy, edgily driving klezmer-jazz tune, Caine and Friedlander joining in tandem on the melody line, up to a terse cello solo

The album’s most expansive track is Glimmer, whose somber intro is a false alarm: Caine fuels a vampily anthemic, funky, triumphant 6/8 drive, the bandleader digging in hard for an incisive solo, up to some juicy spirals. The ballad Little Daily Miracles has a gorgeously twilit, glimmering sway, Caine’s neoromantic attack anchoring Friedlander’s emphatic, anthemic lines.

The group coalesce out of separate corners into a tightly syncopated interweave in Aurora: it’s the album’s hardest-hitting track. Friedlander plucks out a sunny oldschool soul riff and variations to open A Simple Radiance; Caine’s bittersweetly glittering, gospel-tinged solo is arguably the album’s high point.

The final cut is the aptly titled, bustling The Fire in You: imagine peak-era Dave Brubeck in a particularly Russian, trickily rhythmic moment, with strings. Fans of peak-era Jean-Luc Ponty, the early Turtle Island Quartet and 70s art-rock bands will love this stuff.

Friedlander’s gig page doesn’t list any upcoming shows, but Smith is playing Downtown Music Gallery on May 31 at around 7:30 PM with trumpeter Darren Johnston. The potentially combustible trio of guitarist Jessica Ackerley with saxophonist Erin Rogers and drummer Henry Mermer open the evening at 6:30; it’s a pass-the-tip-bucket situation.

May 28, 2022 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Pensive, Evocative Album by Jessica Ackerley and Daniel Carter

Guitarist Jessica Ackerley and multi-instrumentalist Daniel Carter‘s duo album Friendship: Lucid Shared Dreams and Time Travel is testament to fearlessness under duress. While music venues were shuttered in the 2020 totalitarian takeover, these two fixtures of the New York improvisational scene were keeping hope alive and playing outdoor shows. Convening in a Williamsburg studio late that summer, they recorded eight thoughtful rainy-day improvisations, streaming at Bandcamp.

Ackerley plays acoustic guitar here, with Carter on his usual mix of saxes, trumpet, flute, clarinet and occasional percussion. On the record, Ackerley is typically the acerbic one, stubbornly resisting any distinct major or minor resolutions while Carter generally serves as calm voice of reason.

To open, Ackerley plays opaquely lingering, trebly chords as Carter’s sax wafts gently overhead. Track two begins more spare and wintry, Carter maintaining a balmy presence punctuated by a few wary trills until Ackerley shifts into more emphatic territory.

The third track begins sparsely, Ackerley’s strumming rising with hints of flamenco. She backs away, then returns with a spikier, more precise attack in the aptly titled Dream State: Carter’s sax descends from the clouds to goose his bandmate’s phrasing and pull her toward more frenetic and then immersive territory

Lucid Dreamer features spaciously strolling guitar underpinning wafting flute, then grows with waves of energy and descends to lullaby ambience. Hidden Truths is another aptly titled number, Carter picking up with an occcasionaly microtone-fueled edge as Ackerley runs an insistent, mysterious percussive riff, then follows a squirrelly, somewhat furtive trail. A hazy thicket of sound ensues, as does the persistent comforting/disquieting dichotomy that permeates the album.

Carter develops a fond sax ballad as Ackerley scrambles to find her footing in Foreknowledge, He switches to clarinet for a woodsy intro to the final number, Awakening, Ackerley building quickly to a hypnotic, hammering pulse. It ends decidedly unresolved.

There’s no telling where Carter could be next – maybe several places on a single evening. Ackerley’s next gig is on May 31 at 6:30 PM at Downtown Music Gallery as part of an intriguing, potentially pyrotechnic trio with saxophonist Erin Rogers and drummer Henry Mermer, followed by the duo of trumpeter Darren Johnston and drummer Ches Smith.

May 27, 2022 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Drummer Kresten Osgood Airs Out His Funky Chops on Hammond Organ

Here in the west we emphasize musical specialization to the point of absurdity. In the Middle East and Africa, pretty much everybody is expected to be a competent drummer: after that. you find your own axe or axes. In that context, it’s less surprising that Kresten Osgood, the popular Danish drummer, would also turn out to be a very inspired organist. His new album, Kresten Osgood Plays the Organ for You is due to hit his Bandcamp page on June 3.

After playing behind the kit for organists including Dr. Lonnie Smith and Billy Preston, Osgood decided to take matters into his own hands and leave the organ envy behind. The result is a purposeful, thoughtful party record.

The opening number. Play it Back features Osgood’s steady, catchy, vampy riffage over a loose-limbed groove with Fridolin Nordsø on chicken-scratch wah-wah guitar, Ludomir Dietl on drums and Arto Eriksen on percussion. Exactly what you would expect from a drummer: everybody is in on the beats!

Osgood really chooses his spots from there, spacing his clusters, spirals and a logical, playful counterpoint in the second track, Poinciana. The group make their way through the slowly swaying thicket of percussion in Wildfire, a catchy Booker T-style theme with an incisive, psychedelic wah solo from Nordsø

Når lyset Bryder Frem – “when the lights go on,” roughly translated – is a warmly major-key retro 60s soul-funk tune. Osgood wraps his hands around some big chords in his longest, most undulating tune here, Baby Let Me Take You in My Arms, Nordsø taking off into space and spinning back down to earth before the jungle of beats takes centerstage.

The band pick up with a harder edge in Onsaya Joy, then Osgood launches into the catchiest, but also most complex number on the album, Dansevise, with its shifts between major and minor, jazz and 60s psychedelic soul.

The quartet wind up the record with a bouncy midtempo funk cover of By The Time I Get to Phoenix Osgood artfully edging his way into the melody. His next New York gig is behind the kit on May 28 at 6:30 PM at Downtown Music Gallery, in an interesting improvisational trio with trumpeter Herb Robertson and tuba player Marcus Rojas.

May 26, 2022 Posted by | funk music, jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, soul music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lyrical Jazz Piano Icon Bill Mays Plays a Rare Small-Room Stand in Manhattan

Pianist Bill Mays was playing catchy tunes decades before “translucent” became the latest word for a melody that sticks in your head. It’s hard to believe that last year marked a half century since he made his first record – backing Sarah Vaughan, no less. Mays did not let the lockdown get in the way of his vast creative output: he has a bunch of new tunes and a rare small-room Manhattan gig coming up this May 27 and 28 at Mezzrow, with bassist Dean Johnson and drummer Ron Vincent. Sets are at 7:30 and 9:30 PM; cover is $25 cash at the door. If you’re going you might want to get there early.

For all his melodicism, Mays also has a dark side, epitomized by his work on the Angelo Badalamenti Twin Peaks classic Moving Through Time. Might there be an album in the extensive Mays catalog that captures that sensibility and can be heard without falling back on evil, censorious Spotify? Fortuitously, yes! In 2018, Vancouver saxophonist PJ Perry and Mays did an unhurried, unselfconsciously gorgeous duo album, This Quiet Room, which is still up at Bandcamp.

They open with Parisian Thoroughfare. a cheery, Gershwinian stroll where they follow through variations on a stubborn riff down into resolution, with some nimbly articulated clusters from Mays. They reinvent In My Life as a slow waltz. Perry’s airy sax contrasting with Mays’ sober, terse piano. When he takes an unexpected detour into the noir, the effect is quietly breathtaking.

Perry’s muscular spirals take centerstage over Mays’ incisive chords as the two pick up the pace in Laird Baird. After that, Mays delivers a bright, thoughtfully paced, glittering solo take of The Folks Who Live on the Hill that segues into Two For The Road, the latter with some balmy work from Perry.

The two balance Perry’s fond resonance with Mays’ occasional hints of disquiet in the slow, warmly methodical, waltzing ballad Alice Blue Gown, a dichotomy that’s even more striking in their take of There’s a Small Hotel, right through Mays’ emphatic stride as the two wind it up.

Brooding modalities permeate the simmering bossa nova Beija Flor, then they romp through a determined, resonant version of East of the Sun. Perry saves his most fondly lyrical work on the record for the title track, bobbing and weaving over Mays’ tersely assembled, spacious backdrop.

The last time this blog was in the house at a Mays gig, it was January, 2018 at the now-abandoned weekly series at St. Peter’s Church at Lexington and 54th, where the crowd just walked in without a care and filled up the benches even though it was the peak of cold and flu season. There was a veteran singer on the bill and she had pitch trouble, which brought the energy down. But it was rewarding to see Mays get a chance to parse the showtune side of the jazz repertoire with his usual sagacity and funefulness.

May 25, 2022 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment