Saturday, September 21, 2013

NYC September 2013

I'm slowly catching up on things. I spent the first week of September in New York City - it had been awhile since I was last in town (Easter I think). It's well after the fact and a bit light on details but here's a run down on the weeks happenings.

Grakowski & Heberer 
First stop was the  Downtown Music Gallery. I try and make it there each time I'm in town, though this was my first time at one of the in-store concerts they host on Sunday evenings - nice vibe and plenty of CD browsing (and some buying) before the show. Performing in store was the duo of Frank Gratkowski (alto sax) & Thomas Heberer (cornet/trumpet). I really enjoyed this yet. Great to be up close to the music in a (very) small space. The pair played a set of improvised duos. I found out that these two have a playing history going back to their teens - and it showed with plenty of common ground shared. I must remember to check if they have recorded together (I forgot to ask them!). Picked up a copy of Frank's latest album "All At Once" - just released on Relative Pitch Records. I've only had time to give it one spin - a saxophone trio disc with Phillip Greenlief & Jon Raskin - but I've liked what I've heard so far. I joined the duo and some friends for dinner in Chinatown.

After dinner we walked up to Nublu for Frank's second gig of the night. Got to have a good chat with him about projects he has under way including the few weeks he had just spent at CNMAT (Center for New Music & Audio Technologies). He's been working on his project "Artikulationen E" solo alto sax with live electronics and 8-point surround sound. In fact Frank has built his own wireless electronics controller that attaches to his alto (see pic). For the 2nd gig Frank was part of percussionist Joe Hertenstein's "Future Drone"with Anthony Coleman (fender rhodes) Ken Filiano (b). This is a gig that I would have dug a lot more had it not been so loud. The main culprit was the rhodes - and it brought the rest of the group with it. When the volume was lower I could hear everyone and there was plenty of interesting music happening. But too often the volume took away the enjoyment.

Tender Trap Jam Session
Monday night I joined friends at the Tender Trap jam session in Brooklyn. They're had a regular set followed by a jam session there for some time now. It's a sweet scene - friendly and welcoming. Last time I was in town I wasn't able to play due the problems with my hand/arm so it was nice to get a few tunes in. The only jam session I've attended with four violinists! Take your horn down if you are in the neighborhood or just take your ears and have a beer.

Tuesday morning I joined Will and Carol at B&H to check out some microphones. What a crazy place - I still can't get over that I'd never heard of them. Following that it was off to Carol's for a duo session of standards and free improvisations. It seemed an age since we and played together but things came into place nicely. The free stretches seemed to move into some new places. I must remember to bring my recorder next time I'm in town.
After the session we headed downtown to hear our friend Nick playing a pre-show duo gig at the Signature Theatre. The acoustic was very live (a large space with plenty of concert and wood). Nick's alto sound filled the space and he was barley breathing into the horn. Very relaxed, melodic playing.

Zach Brock Quartet - 55 Bar
I spent Wednesday afternoon out in Newark meeting some of my classmates and sat in on the first of the Duke Ellington classes. I'm sure I'll blog a bit about school in the future.
That evening it was off to Greenwich Village and the 55 Bar for the Zach Brock (violin) Matt Penman (b) John Beasley (fender rhodes) and Obed Calvaire (d). Two sets of mostly Brock originals - plus one from Beasley, Herbie Hancock's "Eye of the Hurricane" and a ballad "You've Changed" (I think). The quartet was tight and bass & drum combo were particularly locked in. Nice catching up with Matt - hadn't seen him since he played in Chicago with the SFJAZZ Collective.

Kept things fairly mellow on Thursday. In the morning I caught up with Richard, a sax playing friend from New Zealand who has just moved to NYC to study towards his Masters Degree. Then it was off out to Brooklyn for a hang, session and lunch with Nick. Hanging and playing with Nick always provide plenty of surprises and laughs. Spent the night with my wonderful hosts - Will & Jennie - dinner and drinks. All in all a fun week - plenty of music and friends - and that's a good thing indeed.

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