Monday, February 18, 2013

Eclectic, Electronic, Electric and Energetic Music

'Tis an exciting week for music that will surprise, soothe, shock and (hopefully) satisfy the adventurous career.  On Thursday February 24, the Imani Winds come to Millard Auditorium on the campus of the University of Hartford, 200 Bloomfield Avenue in West Hartford, for a 7:30 p.m. performance.  The quintet, formed 16 years ago in New York City, is composed of flutist-composer Valerie Colemanoboist Toyin Spellman-Diaz, clarinetist Mariam Adam, French horn player-composer Jeff Scott, and bassoonist Monica Ellis.  The UHart concert features several pieces by Ms. Coleman, an exciting arrangement of Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" plus works by Simon Shaheen, Gyorgy Ligeti and Karel Husa.

The quintet is known for its unique repertoire, ranging from collaborations with saxophonist-composer Wayne Shorter and Jason Moran, to recordings  of holiday music and a project dedicated to Josephine Baker.  They are all fine players and this should be a wonderful concert.  For more information, go to or call 860-768-4228.  

On Friday February 25, Rudresh Mahanthappa's Gamak comes to Morse Recital Hall inside Sprague Hall, 435 College Street in New Haven. The alto saxophonist-composer has been "electrifying" audiences with this excellent quartet that features bassist Francois Moutin, drummer-percussionist Dan Weiss and guitarist David "Fuze" Fiuczynski.  The group's recently released self-titled CD is filled with rapid-fire riffs, fascinating rhythmic changes and strong solo work.  Mahanthappa is a virtuosic soloist, blessed with great speed but also a ear for melodic invention.  This show will absolutely rock the Recital Hall - for more information, go to or call 203-432-4158

The Uncertainty Music Series moves to Firehouse 12, 45 Crown Street in New Haven, for an evening of electronic music featuring composer Keith Fullerton Whitman. Whitman, a resident of Cambridge, Massachusetts, has been creating sound "environments" on computer for nearly 2 decades. Here is how Whitman describes the event: "I'll playing a four-channel piece for hybrid digital-analogue modular synthesizer that applies concepts drawn from the "Analogue Computing" tradition to generate a poly & free- rhythmic assemblage of asynchronous events that move in Newtonian fashions through space. The systems at use reference this history of "Live Electronic Music" from Cage & Tudor through mid-90's Dance Music ..."  He'll be giving a "Pre-concertTalk" at 7 p.m. (that is free) and the concert, titled "Quad Audio and Video" is at 8:30 p.m ($12. ticket).  This is the first collaboration of Uncertainty Music and SOUND HALL, with another show scheduled for March.  For more information, go to

"Venture Inward" (Posi-Tone Records) is the third release in 3 years by trumpeter David Weiss and his Point of Departure quintet. Coincidentally, all the music was recorded in 2008 but this release is the first "studio" album (the others, "Snuck In" and "Snuck Out" were recorded live on March 25th and released on Sunnyside Records, one day after 4 of the 6 tracks on "Venture Inward" were recorded - the remaining 2 cuts come from a June 2008 session.) Another interesting difference between the live and studio sessions is that bassist Matt Clohesy appears on the former and Luques Curtis on the latter. The rest of the lineup remains the same with J.D. Allen on tenor saxophone, Nir Felder on electric guitar and Jamire Williams on drums.

Compared to the live recordings where the majority of the songs clock in at over 10 minutes, this session, with the exception of Charles Moore's "Number 4" (16:17) and Herbie Hancock's "I Have A Dream" (11:36) has 4 songs under 8:25.  Then again, Weiss ties the Hancock song to Tony Williams' "Black Comedy" (7:18), a song that first appeared on Miles Davis's "Miles In The Sky."  Both pieces are propelled by the dynamic drumming of Williams - when he and Curtis lock in, this music soars. Felder's rhythm work is also worth mentioning.  His is the only chordal instrument and Felder is the foundation of this music, allowing the rhythm section to roam at will.  He eschews louder volume for a more mellow tone and his solo work is excellent. On "Black Comedy", the guitarist plays against the beat as well as riding atop it to great effect.  It's illuminating to hear Allen stretch on these songs as his own Trio material is usually fairly short and filled with interplay.

"Snuck In" has appeared on all 3 CDs - the song, also composed by trumpeter Charles Moore for Kenny Cox and the Contemporary Jazz Quartet (a group based in Detroit, Michigan, that was active on the 1960s and 70s), has a compelling forward motion.  Curtis, Felder and Williams really drive this peace hard and the front line does an excellent of floating the melody over the energetic rhythms.  "Number 4" has a similar feel but, here, it's Williams and Curtis who lead the charge through the song. The bassist dances beneath Allen's expansive and thoughtful solo.  Weiss, who is also the catalyst behind The Cookers (the "super" group with Billy Harper, Dr. Eddie Henderson, Billy Hart, Cecil McBee, Craig Handy and George Cables), displays the influence of Freddie Hubbard in his lengthy yet quite coherent solo.  Felder and Williams play a fiery duo before the drummer takes the spotlight for his excellent solo.

The quintet recorded "Erato" by Andrew Hill on "Snuck In",  this CD includes 2 Hill compositions including the title track (first recorded on Hill's "Grass Roots" Lp) and "Pax" (a piece from 1965 that was not released until 1975).  The latter is the "ballad" of the recording, with a melody from the trumpet and saxophone that weaves in and around the counterpoint of the guitar.  Williams is quite active but also somewhat subdued, serving to "color" the work of the front line and guitarist.

"Venture Inward" has the sound of American jazz in the mid-to-late 1960s but these renditions are not slavish recreations.  David Weiss wisely uses younger musicians, ones who bring fresh ears and minds to this music.   The housing market may have collapsed in 2008, the banking industry suffered great losses but Weiss's Point of Departure quintet gave the jazz world 3 excellent recordings.  For more information, go to

No comments:

Post a Comment