Lucid Culture


Charenee Wade Brings Her Souful Depth and Powerful Vocals Back to a Favorite Uptown Spot

Charenee Wade is a rarity, a consummate jazz musician and improviser whose instrument just happens to be vocals. She’s also a major interpreter of Gil Scott-Heron: on her 2015 album Offering: The Music of Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson, she reinvented an intriguing mix of mostly relatively obscure songs by the iconic hip-hop godfather and political firebrand. Onstage. she isn’t just a lead singer in front of a backing unit: her voice is an integral part of a central focal point where she and the members of her excellent quartet converge – and sometimes diverge. She’s playing Ginny’s Supper Club on June 22 with sets at 7 and 9 PM. You can get a seat at the bar for $20.

Her late set there back in mid-February had everything you could want from a concert: smart interplay, fiery solos, strong tunes and dynamic vocals. Wade will hover just a hair above or below a note a la Dinah Washington, but with a much more powerful low register. And yet, Wade also showed off similar power, way up the scale, using her vibrato sparingly when she wanted to add some purr to a phrase.

Pianist Oscar Perez fired off several sabretoothed solos, adding unexpected flash during a handful of fleeting crescendos that made up a much bigger picture as a song, and ultimately the set itself, followed an upward tangent. Bassist Paul Beaudry stuck to walking the changes, holding the center with a purist pulse as drummer Darrell Green colored the music with some unexpected charges of his own, including a rapturously intense take on African talking drums.

After a swinging instrumental intro, Wade began the set with a long, uneasily atmospheric, Alice Coltrane-esque tableau. The highlight of the night was an expansive, harrowing take of the Gil Scott-Heron classic Home Is Where the Hatred Is. But Wade didn’t just do the obvious and scat on the “kick it, quiit it” vamp at the end: she brought a knowing desperation to the verses, a searing portrait of someone driven to addiction rather than simply falling into the trap.

It was Singles Appreciation Night, she told the crowd, so her standards and ballads had a sardonic undercurrent that was sometimes subtle, as in her delicate take of You Taught My Heart to Sing, and then much more overtly cynical as the set picked up steam. They brought a misty, mystical ambience back with a late-70s Scott-Heron tune referencing African spirits blowing on the breeze, Green supplying a dusky, mysterious, shamanistic intro. They finally closed the set with a brief, emphatic segment from John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme. It’s a good bet Wade and her band will mix up the classic and the cutting edge this time around too.

June 8, 2019 Posted by | concert, jazz, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bassist Paul Beaudry & Pathways Put Their Own Stamp on Iconic and Obscure Pan-American Sounds

Bassist bandleader Paul Beaudry and his quartet Pathways – tenor saxophonist Tim Armacost, pianist Bennett Paster and drummer Tony Jefferson – have a joyous new album, Americas, recently out from Soundkeeper Recordings. A Pan-American jazz festival, the album eclectically and soulfully explores a vast range of traditional sounds from across the Americas, including tunes from Trinidad, Haiti, Surinam, Cuba, Nicaragua, Honduras, Argentina and Brazil. Inspired by music they heard during their 2010 State Department-sponsored South American tour, Beaudry and his ensemble lend rhythm, virtuosity and pure fun to a mix of alternately lively and moody new arrangements of folk melodies and some intriguingly obscure compositions.

Armacost adds a soulfully direct, Paul Desmond-inflected touch to the opening track, Lieve Hugo’s Maria, as it pulses along on a myserioso Surinamese kaseko groove – its eclectic blend of Pan-American and Caribbean styles is responsible for jumpstarting the adventure that would become this album. With its rippling allusions to a harplike, Colombian-flavored theme, the epic, luxuriant Paster composition Harmonia Mundi (World Peace) – the album’s lone original – evokes how rich the cross-pollination became throughout this group’s travels and features Armacost at his most carefree and lyrical. Jefferson’s suspenseful drums propel Lidia Handal’s blissful Honduran calypso romp El Bananero (The Banana Vendor), echoed by some unexpected ragtime riffage from Paster.

The lush ballad O Que É Amar, by Brazilian composer Johnny Alf – perhaps the father of bossa nova – gives Armacost a launching pad for a poignant, tender solo on soprano sax . The group goes all the way back to the 1800s to Cuban classical composer Manuel Saumell Robredo – one of the first who might be considered “third stream” – for the elegant El Pañuelo De Pepa, featuring a wry staccato Beaudry solo and a precise, almost courtly dance rhythm. D’leau, from the Haitian catalog of Nemours Jean-Baptiste, puts a nimble, bouncy new spin on an early compas hit, while the enigmatic Trinidadian mambo Every Time Ah Pass – in an arrangement by the band’s friend, Trini pianist Clive “Zanda” Alexander – adds a dark undercurrent beneath its lithe bustle. The dizzyingly polyrhythmic northern Argentinian dance Zamba Alegre dates from 1919, the band cooking up another smoldering bluesy undertone that ends on a potently pensive note. The album ends with Carlos Mejía Godoy’s Nicaragua Nicaraguita – an iconic song which is in Nicaragua what This Land Is Your Land is in the U.S. – featuring Armacost sailing over Paster’s vivid, pointillistic chords and a characteristically tuneful, nimble Beaudry solo. It’s accessible and lively enough to win over the Spyro Gyra crowd, while the richly inspired playing will likely keep purist jazz fans reaching for the repeat button on several tracks. Count this among this year’s most original and enjoyable jazz releases.

June 20, 2012 Posted by | jazz, latin music, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews, world music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment