Sunday, November 17, 2013

Very Good Vibes + 3 Nights at The Side Door + Piano Trio Joy

The Fall 2013 Concert Series at Firehouse 12 in New Haven continues with the return appearance of vibraphonist and composer Chris Dingman.  It's his 3rd time in the performance venue and 2nd as a leader. In October of 2010, he performed the music that appeared on his 2011 debut CD, "Waking Dreams", and returned 14 months later as a member of drummer Harris Eisenstadt's Canada Day.  This Friday (11/22), Dingman, a native of California who came East to study at Wesleyan University, is the leader of a impressive sextet that will play music from "The Subliminal and the Sublime" - it's a brand-new suite commissioned by Chamber Music America. The group selected to play the music includes 2 people who appeared with the vibraphonist on the October 2010 gig, Loren Stillman (saxophones) and the wonderful young Cuban-born pianist Fabian Almazan plus Linda Oh (bass), Ryan Ferreira (guitar) and Justin Brown (drums).

Chris Dingman et al will play 2 sets - 8:30 and 10 p.m. - for ticket information, go to or call 203-785-0468. To learn more about this fine musician, go to

The Side Door Cafe, 85 Lyme Street in Old Lyme, has become quite a hot spot for creative music.  Located in the historic Old Lyme Inn, new owners Ken and Chris Kitchings have made a commitment to present live music, at least, every weekend and have done so since May of this year (opening night featured the legendary George Wein...yes, he of the Newport Jazz Festival - he's also an accomplished jazz pianist).  This week, the Cafe welcomes guitarist Duke Robillard and Trio on Thursday (11/21), the Joyce DiCamillo Trio on Friday, and the Rene McLean Sextet featuring Gary Bartz on Saturday.  McLean (pictured left), the son of jazz saxophonist and educator Jackie McLean (who, along with his wife Dollie, founded the Artist Collective in Hartford), has concentrated more on being an educator/musician than a recording artist. He continues his father's work in Hartford while also teaching around the world..

Doors open each evening at 7:30 p.m. with the first set at 8:30.  For more information, go to or call 860-434-0886.

Scheduled to appear at The Side Door on November 29 is pianist Glenn Zaleski with bassist Dezron Douglas and drummer Craig Weinrib.  The pianist just subbed this week for John Escreet in Jamie Baum's Septet and Quintet appearances in Massachusetts and Connecticut (including The Side Door) - he's also a member of a collective trio with drummer Colin Stranahan and bassist Rick Rosato whose 2nd CD has just been issued.

"Limitless" (Capri Records) is an appropriate for this new recording. Don't shake your head just because you think that because there are so many piano trios in the world (probably some in the universe as well) that the music these gentlemen play can't offer you something new.  Yet, listen to the excitement in this music - not only does it come from 3 gifted musicians who have a good percentage of the past few years "playing" together but also from the material that mines the Trio's myriad influences. The pleasure derived from Colin Stranahan's expressive percussion, the melodic work of Rick Rosato and the rhythmical yet melodic work of Glenn Zaleski on the title track (that he composed) could certainly make one dance.  The pianist, who has studied with Fred Hersch, truly understands that the piano is both orchestra and rhythm section. Also, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of covers of Thelonious Monk songs but relatively few as animated as the rendition of "Work" heard here.  

3 of the 9 tracks are composed by bassist Rosato including the delightful "Rock Song" which dances, stops and starts, changes pace and keeps one off-guard all the way through.  His "Migrations" opens quietly but soon Stranahan's rapid-fire snare work electrifies the proceedings. "Vio" commences with a long unaccompanied bass melody before the rest come in with a thematic line that one hear as the theme song from a 1940s movie.  The pianist articulates his notes so well you can feel that he knows the words.

Stranahan, who is rapidly making a name as a "go-to" drummer, composed "Motian Sickness"; obviously dedicated to the late drummer/composer, the minimalist melody in the bass and piano stand in contrast to the to active drum work (the cymbal work throughout is striking - no pun intended).  The melody that emerges out of the song's chords, especially close to the end of the piece, is rich with emotion.

With the exception of afore-mentioned Monk piece, the remaining 4 tracks are credited to the pianist.  You will not hear a prettier melody this year than the one from Zaleski's "Chorale (for Fred Hersch)" - even the bass solo shines with melodic intensity.  This cut does have the feel of the Keith Jarrett Trio with Jack DeJohnette and Gary Peacock but is no imitation. The pianist also penned "Forecast", a romp that jumps from the opening note.  The trio's interactions are so enjoyable, breath-taking at times.

Stranahan/Zaleski/Rosato is a trio to be reckoned with. "Limitless" lives up to its name, and then some.  Give this a listen - give it 2, 3 even more - you should be quite pleased.  For more information, go to  

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