Monday, June 3, 2013
The Pianist from Azerbajian, The Saxophonist from Iran + CD Picks
The Amina Figarova Sextet comes to Firehouse 12, 45 Crown Street in New Haven on Friday June 7, the penultimate presentation of the venue's Spring 2013 Concert Series. The ensemble features the pianist, her husband, Mommaas plus 3 Americans; the rhythm section consists of bassist Joe Sanders (Ravi Coltrane, Gerald Clayton) and drummer Justin Brown (Rudresh Manathappa, Pascal Le Boeuf Trio - see below) plus the fine young trumpeter Josh Evans, a native of Hartford, CT. When I interviewed Dave Douglas prior to his Firehouse 12 gig, he was effusive in his praise of Evans's playing and demeanor.
The Sextet will play 2 shows - 8:30 and 10 p.m. - for ticket information, go to firehouse12.org or call 203-785-0468. To find out more about Ms. Figarova and her music, go to www.aminafigarova.com.
The Secret Tempo Trio finds the tenor saxophonist in the company of bassist Shayna Dulberger and drummer Mike Pride (all pictured above left). Moritz has worked with both musicians in the past but this is their first endeavor as a trio. They have a new recording scheduled to be released soon on Hot Cup Records. The music they create is steeped in the tradition of classic Tenor Trio (see Sonny Rollins) but also has a modernist bent. The Secret Tempo Trio hits the stage at 8 p.m. For more information, go to uncertaintymusic.com. To hear Jonathan Moritz and his various groups, go to www.jonathanmoritz.com.
What a band! The rhythm section consists of Scott Colley (bass) and Mark Ferber (drums) while the "front line" boasts Ralph Alessi (trumpet), Ravi Coltrane (tenor saxophone) and Peter Epstein (alto saxophone). Epstein and Ake are on the faculty of the University of Nevada/Reno and have recorded with the fellow faculty member Chris Clark on his recent "Cedar Wisely" recording on Songlines as well as being 2/3rds of the chamber-jazz trio EEA whose CD "The Dark" was issued in 2011 on Origin Records.
The title track opens the recording and, by the time the musicians have worked through the piece, the listener knows this will be one of the more special albums of this year (or any year.) The melody and harmony lines move like a flock of geese across the sky (sans the "honking). Throughout the program, traditional roles are overthrown. On "Sonomads", it's Colley's bass that moves the piece forward and whose phrases everyone else builds off of. Ake's piano holds the "bottom" while Ferber's drums join the conversation with the bass and Alessi's trumpet. The trumpet leads in "Story Table", then the band joins, the melody split among the reeds and trumpet. Ferber, Colley and Ake execute the "stop-start" rhythm with aplomb, nudging the piece forward.
The sly, slippery, rhythms on the opening of "Dodge" give way to a accelerated bass line then back for Coltrane's forceful solo. In the middle of the tune, the piece stops for a muted trumpet-piano-drums conversation that is a sparring session for Alessi and Ferber while Ake plays a rhythmical solo. The program closes with a short lyrical trumpet-piano duo titled "Light Bright" that lives up to its name. Gospel and blues informs "Year in Review" - listen to the piano solo as Ake strides, pounds, trills, plays "in" then "out", in the fashion of the late Jaki Byard.
If you like creative music that takes chances, where the musicians play with both wit and fire, and where the compositions are so much more than mere heads to string solos upon, "Bridges" will more than scratch your itch. David Ake is leaving Reno for Cleveland, Ohio, where he will be the head of the Music Department at Case Western Reserve University. One hopes he finds enough time to create more music as stunning as this. For more information, go to www.davidakemusic.com.
"Pascal's Triangle" is a delight from start to finish, so contemporary yet with subtle bows towards Keith Jarrett and Bill Evans. Judging by his sparkling present-day accomplishments, Pascal Le Boeuf has such a bright future. He'd be wise to keep Ms. Oh and Justin Brown in the mix - they are his equals and make him work harder to create an individual sound for their ensemble. Hear for yourself by going to pascalleboeuf.bandcamp.com/album/pascals-triangle. Happiness should ensue.