Monday, September 26, 2011
Rare Concert + Reviews of Music by 1 Duo, 2 Trios and a Quartet
Joining her in the recording studio/performance space will be acoustic bass guitarist Jerome Harris and drummer Reggie Nicholson, both impressive musicians. They'll play 2 sets, 8:30 and 10 p.m. For more information, go to firehouse12.com or call 203-785-0468.
They first met when Johnston heard Forrester playing a Thelonious Monk and it was musical love at first hearing. The CD contains 4 Monk tunes, 7 by Forrester and "Splat", a solo piece by Johnston. There are many "sweet" moments including the lovely and blues-drenched "Pannonica" and "Your Little Dog", a heart-felt tribute to a family pet. Johnston's soprano playing is often sublime (never moreso than on "Did You Ever Want to Cry?") yet he "swings" congenially on "Well You Needn't." Forrester's piano work is informed by Monk but he's no imitator plus he's got a "huge" left hand - when he hits the "stride" on "Evidence", the room vibrates.
Even if you've never sprung for a Microscopic Septet recording (infidel!!), "Live at the Hillside Club" is...well.. it's a treat (and low in calories as well.) To find out more, go to www.joelforrester.com and/or www.phillipjohnston.com.
As a listener, I approached the CD in a similar fashion. I did not look at the tracks listing (until I got surprised by funky take of "Giant Steps" followed by the sweetly abstract take of "Afro Blue"), just popped the CD into the player and let it flow. You should do the same. While there is much here to like, the average listener probably won't sit still to take in the entirety of this exceptional program. In his own way, Hoenig puts on a clinic - his work is splendid, from the intermittent rubbing brushes on both "Birth" and "Lily" to the snapping snare work on "I'm Beginning to See the Light" to the conversational high-hat on "Slow." In many trio settings, the bass and drums alternate being the bottom - that happens here at times but Moutin is ever-so-musical throughout the program. Pilc shines as well with his post-bop flourishes on "Confirmation" or his mysterious abstractions on "You and the Night and the Music." His playing on "Birth" shows the influence of Erik Satie; no wasted notes, no added single-note dashes, just a piece filled with wonder (the mood actually carries over to the next track, "Slow."
"Threedom", the freedom to be themselves, this music that is the sounds of joy of creation. As you already know, there are a truckloads of piano trio CDs but only a handful as pleasing and creative as this one. For more information, go to motema.com. Even better, see Pilc Moutin Hoenig in concert. (The CD comes with an embedded video of the threesome playing a spirited version of "Mr. P.C.")
When you return to "Hearts Wide Open" a second and third time, concentrate on the melodic richness. Just about every track has a strong theme and the fine rhythm section helps to make each piece stand out. Yes, the group can (and does) improvise impressively but the brilliance and ultimate success of the CD lies in the fine musical architecture Gilad Hekselman creates. To find out more, go to www.giladhekselman.com. To hear the group (sans Mark Turner) in action, go to www.npr.org/2011/09/19/140607358/gilad-hekselman-wide-open-reaction. The CD is scheduled to be released in October of this year.
Here, Steve Mackey gives Sō quite a sonic palette to play with; everything from wine bottles to metronomes to pump organs to steel drums to alarm clocks is thrown into the mix. Amazingly with all the toys and drums, the work never sounds cluttered. In fact, it's quite playful which is not surprising seeing as the composition was inspired by the composer's young son. There are plenty of melodic lines to entice the most skeptical listener. The rhythms often have an African feel but that does not permeate the music. There is an ebb and flow to the work as well as an appealing lightness of "being." Overall, it's a very hopeful program. There's a DVD that comes with the CD release - it, too, is fun, a bit serious but still fun.
To find out more, go to www.sopercussion.com.