Sunday, December 11, 2011

Seasons Come and They Go

Trumpeter Russ Johnson possesses a wonderful clear tone, at times quite classical, yet plays with wit and invention that defies categorization.  He has had (and still has) a slew of sideman gigs, ranging from Lee Konitz's New Nonet to violinist Jenny Scheinman to bassist Michael Bates and on to Michael Buble and Elvis Costello.  He has co-led the Other Quartet (with saxophonist Ohad Talmor), worked in a duo setting with pianist Mick Rossi, and teaches in a number of different schools.

He is also the leader of Out To Lunch, a quintet that takes its name and part of its repertoire from the classic 1964 Blue Note Lp created by reedman Eric Dolphy. That recording featured the explosive trumpet of Freddie Hubbard, the expansive vibraphone work of Bobby Hutcherson and the stunning rhythm section of Richard Davis (bass) and 18-year old Tony Williams (drums). Johnson's bandmates are also excellent musicians; they include Myra Melford (piano), Roy Nathanson (alto saxophone), Brad Jones (bass) and the ever-inventive George Schuller (drums).  Schuller's father, the esteemed composer and educator Gunther, contributed several pieces that he has composed for Dolphy to Johnson's project.

Expect an evening of music that will go in many directions, challenging yet exciting the listener at every turn.  Out To Lunch plays 2 sets, 8:30 and 10 p.m. and you can get tickets and more information by going to or calling 203-785-0468.

Guitarist Julian Lage, seen here in a 2010 photo by Ken Francking, has assembled a special trio to play New Year's Eve in Boston, Massachusetts, and he's playing the night before (Friday 12/30) at Firehouse 12.  Joining the fine young musician will be bassist Larry Grenadier (Brad Mehldau Trio, FLY) and drummer Eric Harland (Charles Lloyd, SF Jazz Collective). Lage continues to impress as a guitarist and his compositional skills are growing exponentially (consider the fact that he is but 23 years old!)

The music starts at 8 p.m. and there are tickets still available but going quickly. Go to the website or call the number above to join in on the fun.

On Wednesday January 25 2012, Firehouse 12 presents Bill Frisell's Beautiful Dreamers, the guitarist's trio with Eyvind Kang (viola) and Rudy Royston (drums).   The band's repertoire consists of Frisell's imaginative arrangements of standard and classic American music as well as his own unique compositions.  The Dreamers have been making music together since early 1990s and played in the New Haven venue in February of 2010.  I can make several promises about this show;  1) - the music will be wonderful and 2) - the 2 sets (8:30 and 10 p.m.) will be sold out very quickly.  So, go to or call 203-785-0468 and make your reservations. 

Kudos to Nick Lloyd and the staff at the Firehouse for another impressive season of music.  They continue to bless the area with musicians that create work deserving to be heard in such an impressive sound environment.  Honestly, I can't wait to see and hear what 2012 has in store for Firehouse 12.

1 comment:

  1. You, sir, are always on the live music beat. I think you may see more music than I do!

    For Richard's readers, here are some interviews featuring or mentioning the artists above:

    Michael Bates (whose new album features Russ Johnson)

    Myra Melford

    Julian Lage (2009) and (2011)

    Enjoy! And thanks for the great coverage, Richard.