Monday, April 30, 2018

Nicole Mitchell and Ben Goldberg gigs

I managed to get out to a couple of gigs this week. Saturday night I was up at Constellation for the 20th anniversary of Nicole Mitchell’s Black Earth Ensemble. There was a nice turn out and the two sets were full of good vibes. I particularly enjoyed Mitchell's solo work along with that of pianist Jim Baker (although at times I struggled to hear him clearly during his ensemble work), Tomeka Reid (cello) and JoVia Armstrong (percussion) and the overall energy of the ensemble sound.

Constellation Chicago
Tonight it was off to Experimental Sound Studio for the Option Series. This week they presented "Practitioner" - the duo of Ben Goldberg (clarinets) and Michael Coleman (keys). The two delved into Steve Lacy’s "Book of H" from his solo album Hocus PocusI’ve heard Frank Gratkowski talk about the blendability of the clarinet (due it the overtone structure). It was on display tonight as Goldberg attained a great blend with the rhodes and synth. Nice to see them delving into one of Lacy’s more obscure albums, and fascinating to hear it reimagined in the duo setting. It was a very enjoyable set. I wasn’t familiar with Coleman and I really enjoyed his playing. And yes, I picked up the album. 

Tackling Lacy has become bit of a (minor) trend - The Whammies, Lacy Pool, ROVA. So far I these groups haven’t let me down with their takes on Lacy (I’m sad to say I haven’t listened Ideal Bread yet). 

Experimental Sound Studio

Sunday, April 29, 2018

NZ Jazz: Broadbent/Chisholm/Brown/Gibson - Fine and Dandy

Fine and Dandy (Ode) 
Alan Broadbent (p) George Chisholm (trpt/flugel) Andy Brown (b) Frank Gibson Jr. (d)

A couple of months ago a friend of mine caught Alan Broadbent playing in New York. Following a conversation with him about the gig, I decided Broadbent was due for a spin. Initially I was going to go with his solo album in the Maybeck Recital Hall series but for whatever reason Fine and Dandy (Ode) was chosen instead. 

New Zealand Jazz Album of the Year Ode RecordsConsidering his stature, I haven't listened to a bunch of Alan Broadbent – a couple of duo albums with Lee Konitz, his duo with Irene Kral, the solo album mentioned above, and a smattering of others (bits and pieces from a couple of trio albums, some Quartet West) - and I'm yet to hear him live. This album features his line playing more so than his harmonic work (check out the Kral album Where Is Love for some great work as an accompanist). Some words that come to mind are classy, elegant, refined, melodic, swinging, and clarity. I have really enjoyed the fleetness of his playing on the title track - the phrase starting at 1:30 always seems to grab my ear. I also hear the Lennie Tristano influence in his phrasing most clearly on this track. Another favourite is his comping and solo on “We'll Be Together Again” (probably the track during which I scribbled down those half a dozen adjectives) – tasty playing.

I mentioned back in September's post (Space Case Retrospective) that I would be hearing more from the classic pairing of Andy Brown and Frank Gibson Jr. I'm guessing that by the time this album was recorded they would have been playing together for over 20 years. The title track features Brown walking as Gibson solos. It's a texture you don't hear all that often but I like it (from memory I first heard it via Sonny Dallas and Elvin Jones on Lee Konitz's Motion). And I particularly enjoyed his brush work behind Broadbent on “We'll Be Together Again.” I know there's a least two or three albums on the shelf featuring these two but I'll try and share the air(ear)time with the other Kiwi rhythm section stalwarts of Paul Dyne and Roger Sellers and Kevin Haines and Tony Hopkins as well.

Of the quartet, George Chisholm is the player I am least familiar with (I have his album, Lend an Ear, but it's been ages since I listened to it). I feel he is at his best when keeps things concise and melodic as when he gets into double time, his lines can lose focus and the notes lose vitality. The album opener, “Have You Met Miss Jones,” is a pretty good example. He starts off in a melodic mode, from the second chorus he starts interspersing double time lines which for the most part seem a bit forced. However the double time lines on “We'll Be Together Again” flow more naturally. On “Limehouse Blues” he stays clear of the double time and I think it suits him better. 

Overall, Fine and Dandy is a clean, solid, all-standards outing. Perhaps it's a little too clean for me, but the playing is high quality playing and it's definitely one for the straight ahead fans to check out.

In 1992 Fine and Dandy won Jazz Album of the Year. Last year I created a list compiling the winners and finalists (here) - it's still a work in progress so drop me a line if you have any correction or information to add (there are a few holes that need filling).

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Steve Coleman & 5 Elements at Fulton Street Collective

On Monday night I got down to Fulton Street Collective for Steve Coleman and 5 Elements [Coleman (as) Jonathan Findlayson (trpt) Kokayi (v) Anthony Tidd (b) Sean Rickman (d)]. It's somewhere I've been meaning to check out for a while now and it's a nice space. It was good to be close to the action and acoustically the room was ok - the horns sounded great but the electric bass lacked a bit of clarity... but my ears adjusted to it. This was the second time I had heard this lineup (last time was at Constellation) and like then, it was an enjoyable evening. Actually, I may have enjoyed last night a bit more. They played one long set - almost 2 hours in length mostly consisting of pieces strung together without rest. At times the music drifted a little (or maybe it was my mind drifting) but I didn't really mind, possibly due to the trance/ritualistic/cyclic vibe they generated. Kokayi is a great fit for the group and it seems Coleman's tone gets richer each time I've heard him (four times now). He's been in town for most of April, and had I been more organized I could have got along to a lot more than this one night. Hopefully Coleman fans made the most of it.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

And so it continues

Now that digitizing the CDs has almost wrapped up, I decided it was about time to restore a little order. Maybe one day they'll be in strict alphabetical order, but for now they are clumped together in varying ways - a pile of soprano players, a stack of solo sax albums, NZ jazz albums, and grouping artists' albums together (Paul Bley, Lee Konitz, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Yusef Lateef and Sonny Rollins form a pile, Ran Blake, Monk and David Liebman form another etc.). My progress was thwarted when I ran out of space saver sleeves, so things will change as I continue to rehouse discs in jewel cases and multi-disc folders (the latter made it easier when moving but I find I don't listen to the discs as much as the ones on the shelf).

Accompanying me while I sorted out the mess was Some Time (Wout Gooris Trio plus Hayden Chisholm & Erwin Vann), Dream Flight (Liz Gorrill ..aka Kazzrie Jaxen), Arnold Schoenberg's "Pierrot Lunaire" (Christine Schafer & Solistes De L'ensemble Intercontemporain) Bela Bartok's "Concert for Orchestra (Chicago Symphony Orchestra with Fritz Reiner) and Mingus Plays Piano.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Some pics from NYC

Downtown Music Gallery
A fruitful visit to Downtown Music Gallery
Zurcher Gallery
Evan Parker & Ned Rothenberg at Z├╝rcher Gallery, April 5 2018
Punjabi Deli strikes again
Troost bar
TJ Maiani (d) Michael Brownell (b) Nick Lyons (as) at Troost, Greenpoint, April 8 2018
Yonkers Brown Ale