The snow is melting (too quickly in some places), the days are getting longer and people are excited about getting out of the house to hear live music. If you live in the area (New York City and Long Island, Rhode Island, Southern Massachusetts, and Connecticut), here is a listing of fun-sounding gigs.
http://thefunkymonkeycafe.com. To get a taste of Erasmus Quintet, go to http://music.nhic-records.com/album/erasmus-quintet-serious-folly.
On Sunday March 13, internationally recognized (and New Haven-resident) cornetist/composer Taylor Ho Bynum brings his sextet to The BIG ROOM performing "Apparent Distance", an extended composition Bynum premiered last summer, commissioned by Chamber Music America’s 2010 New Jazz Works grant funded through the generosity of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. This is their last stop before an appearance at the Banlieues Bleues Jazz Festival in Paris, France March 25th.
Bynum's Sextet features Jim Hobbs (alto sax), teacher and mentor Bill Lowe (bass trombone, tuba), fellow Wesleyan grad Mary Halvorson (guitar), Ken Filiano (bass), and childhood friend Tomas Fujiwara (drums). The music starts at 7 p.m. For more information and reservations, go to www.thebigroomnewhaven.com.
Pianist Landon Knoblock and percussionist Jason Furman have a new CD. "Gasoline Rainbow" ((Fractamodi Music) is a fascinating blend of sounds and influences, going off and out (but not out of control) in many directions. This is music of possibilities, totally improvised and, one imagines, the recording serves as a blueprint for the duo's live shows.
Knoblock and Furman play at The Buttonwood Tree, 605 Main Street in Middletown on Saturday March 19 at 8 p.m. I'll be interviewing the pianist this week for my Sunday radio show (11 a.m. on WMRD-1150AM in Middletown and WLIS-1420AM in Old Saybrook - alas, still no streaming audio.) For more information about the live show, go to www.buttonwood.org. To learn more about the duo, go to www.landonknoblock.com.
Master percussionist Bobby Sanabria is the leader of the Manhattan School of Music Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra and he must love to hear them dig into classic music. In 2009, the ensemble issued "Kenya Revisited Live" (Jazzheads), an absolutely "smoking" modern interpretation of the classic Machito recording from the 1950s. Now, the MSMA-CJO sinks its collective teeth into the Tito Puente's catalog and the results are equally rewarding. This music is impossible to ignore - 30 seconds into the opening track, "Intro/Elegua Chango" and your feet start moving. By the time the applause fades on that track and "Picadillo" kicks in, you turn up the volume and the walls starts to shake. By the time you reach the final track, the rip-roaring "Mambo Adonis", you'll need to take a nap or something to calm down - that's how "hot" the majority of this music is.
There are a number of strong soloists in the ensemble (23 members at times) including pianist Christian Sands, tenor saxophonist Benjamin Britton, alto saxophonist Jonas Ganzemuller, and trumpeter Paul Stodolka but my vote for the MVPs of this team is the rock-solid bassist Alex Salwach and the 5 percussionists (Norman Edwards, Eddy Hackett, Danny Robbins, Obanilu Allende, Jake Goldbas and Cristian Rivera.) Kudos to Bobby Sanabria for another great tribute and also congratulations to the numerous arrangers who made this music sound so full and exciting.
For more information, go to www.jazzheads.com and follow the links.