Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Ayumi Ishito Brings an Adventurous, Outside-the-Box Trio to Chinatown

Even in communities that support the arts, jazz musicians often get pushed to the fringes. The last two years’ insanity in New York has exponentially increased that marginalization for artists in general. Tenor saxophonist Ayumi Ishito has been one of the more resourceful players in town: she was one of the first to resume performing during the brief window of opportunity in the summer of 2021, and she’s maintained a steady schedule in recent months playing a lot of out-of-the-way venues as restrictions have been dropped. Her next gig dovetails with both her adventurous improvisational sensibility and her most recent album as a leader. She’s opening a twinbill on April 26 at 6:30 PM at Downtown Music Gallery with soundscaper Damien Olson and Nebula and the Velvet Queen on theremin. They’re followed by a second trio with Aaron Edgcomb on percussion, Priya Carlberg on vocals and David Leon on sax. It’s a pass-the-bucket situation.

Ayumi Ishito & the Spacemen Vol. 1 is streaming at Bandcamp. It’s her most experimentally ambitious release to date, a mix of trippy electroacoustic pieces featuring Theo Woodward on keys and vocals, Nebula and the Velvet Queen on theremin. Jake Strauss doubling on guitar and bass and Steven Bartashev on drums.

Squiggles quickly give way to a collective shimmer and fragmentary acoustic and electric guitar riffs as the first number, Looking Through Ice drifts along, Woodward adding Indian inflections with his vocalese. Beyond the guitar and vocals, it’s hard to distinguish the rest of the instruments – Ishito using her pedalboard here – until Strauss introduces a gently swaying, Grateful Dead-like theme and Bartashev picks up the clave with his echoey tumbles.

Shifting sheets, dopplers and warpy textures drift through the mix in the second track, Hum Infinite. Strauss finds a center and builds around it, on bass; Ishito’s wry, dry bursts evoke a EWI. The group slowly reach toward an organ soul tune, then back away as Ishito emerges acerbically from behind the liquid crystal sheen.

Track three, Misspoke is irresistibly funny, Ishito and Woodward chewing the scenery, impersonating instruments real and imagined. Strauss’ blippy bass and Bartashev’s tightly staggered drumming propel Folly to the Fullest to tongue-in-cheek hints of a boudoir soul tune, Ishito floating overhead,

Night Chant is an entertaining contrast in starry, woozy electronic textures and goofy wah-wah phrasing from Ishito: stoner electro-jazz as fully concretized as it gets. The final cut, Constellation Ceiling, is a launching pad for Ishito’s most amusing indulgences with the wah,, eventually coalescing into a bit of a triumphant strut, We need more unserious improvisational music like this.

April 24, 2022 Posted by | avant garde music, jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Change of Pace For the Perennially Interesting Daniel Carter

Daniel Carter is revered for his ability to walk into an improvised situation and invariably find a way to say something memorable with just a few notes. In recent years, his studio work has followed slow, thoughtful, conversational trajectories. His latest project Open Question’s initial album – which is mostly up at Bandcamp – is a change of pace, a largely midtempo improvised swing record. Carter pulls out most of his instrument collection here, playing clarinet, soprano, alto and tenor sax as well as trumpet and flute. Joining him in the repartee are Ayumi Ishito on tenor sax, Eric Plaks on piano and Wurlitzer, Zach Swanson on bass and Jon Panikkar on drums. For whatever reason, maybe the zeitgeist, this is a surprisingly dark record in places.

The first number is simply titled Blues, a (relatively) straightforward swing tune in a spontaneous late 70s Sam Rivers vein. Carter opens it with a moody, liquid clarinet line, the band pulsing along steadily, Ishito leading a series of waves with Carter following, Plaks pushing toward a more emphatic swing, deviating to a more murky atmosphere beneath Ishito’s balmy ambience while Carter switches to jaunty soprano. There’s a chromatically charged intertwine between the horns midway through, slightly altered parallel universes of quasi-blues, calm tremolos falling away for a fluttery, agitated coda.

Fragmented pieces of a forlorn ballad flit through the aptly titled Dimly-Lit Platform like the ghosts of homeless New Yorkers waiting in sleep-deprived limbo for the shelter of a late-night train. Carter pitches a few ideas on flute; the rest of the band follow in turn as Panikkar and Swanson coalesce to a subdued swing.

The big twenty-minute epic here is Confidential BBQ – it’s a fair bet that there have been more than a few in this city since March of 2020. Carter, on flute, stokes the grill calmly as the rest of the band chatter and echo in anticipation, Plaks’ piano holding the center. Carter chooses his spot to fire off a bracing motive, the group supplying muted clusters behind Ishito’s misty, reflective lines, which Carter picks up with his trumpet. Swanson latches onto a catchy, loopy riff to expand beyond; Ishito takes a vividly desolate solo break, joined by Plaks’ spare Wurly. From there the band explore a long, icily futuristic, dynamically shifting, Bob Belden-esque scenario.

The group return to a rather wistful swing with the final number, Synchronicity, which sounds nothing like the song by the Police. Carter opens it broodingly on soprano, then switches to tenor for a reflective conversation with Ishito, Plaks raising the energy with judicious rumble and punch. There’s some squall but sagacity as the group bring the wary energy full circle.

Carter turns up at so many gatherings of creative musicians that it’s impossible to keep track of him. And Ishito is part of an especially intriguing lineup at Downtown Music Gallery tomorrow evening, March 29 at 6:30 PM with ambient soundscaper Damien Olson and Nebula the Velvet Queen on theremin.

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