In the coming weeks, the Firehouse, located at 45 Crown Street in New Haven, presents the trio of Evan Parker, Joe Morris & Nate Woodley (9/19), guitarist Michael Gregory Jackson & Spirit - Signal - Strata (9/26), and the Michael Musillami Trio + Kris Davis (10/04). For more information, go to firehouse12.com or call 203-785-0468.
On Friday, Coltrane brings a new group to the Elm City campus venue, replacing the piano with guitarist Adam Rogers and adding the rhythm section of Matt Brewer (bass) and Nate Smith (drums). Each member of the group is a leader on his own; Rogers and Brewer have CDs on the Criss Cross label while Smith, currently the drummer in Dave Holland's Quintet and Big Band, has a CD coming on BJU Records later this month.
For ticket information, go to music-tickets.yale.edu/single/eventDetail.aspx?p=12486 or call 203-432-4158. To learn more about the leader, go to www.ravicoltrane.com.
WHUS-FM, the radio station for the University of Connecticut in Storrs, presents the Michael Musillami Trio + special guests Kris Davis & Jimmy Greene in concert at 8 p.m. in Von Der Mehden Recital Hall, 875 Coventry Road, Unit 1128. Guitarist/composer Musillami, whose Trio with bassist Joe Fonda and drummer George Schuller, has been exciting audiences for the past decade +, is celebrating a new 2-CD set titled "Pride" just released on the leader's Playscape Recordings label (my review is here). The second disk in the set is a live date from 2007 featuring violinist Mark Feldman but the first album was recorded earlier this year with the lineup that will perform at UCONN. Ms. Davis appears on the entire program but Mr. Greene (who has recorded several times with Playscape artist Mario Pavone) only appears on 2 cuts. Not sure what the live concert will include but I cannot imagine the saxophonist will sit out most of the show.
The ticket prices are incredibly low (free for students) - for more information, go to www.facebook.com/events/250312131829323/.
Doors open at 7:30 and the music commences at 8:30 p.m. For more information, go to thesidedoorjazz.com or call 860-434-0886.
Not just a Coalition but a full-blown treat, a splendid session from beginning to end. The only real question is "With all this firepower, why did it take 3+ years for this music to be released? It's out now, thanks to Half Note Records, and well worth investigating. Heck, the opening 2 tracks, Zenon's "Phonetics #2 (Folk Dance)" and Werner's "April Blue" truly whet one's appetite. The former opens with the composer clapping out the infectious rhythm while Loueke adds his voice and funky "chicken-scratch" guitar - all of sudden, Nemeth takes over the rhythm, goosed on by the guitarist's deep bass lines. The piano and reeds enter and the piece really takes off. Zenon plays his usual energetic solo (he has such an inviting sound) as does Koppel (also on alto). In between the 2 (not quite which alto is which), Werner really digs into his solo urged on by the drums and bass guitar.
Meanwhile, the latter piece opens in a Latin groove, Koppel's baritone playing the melody with the alto sax. The chord progression keeps the piece moving in an upward motion. Nemth's active drumming and Loueke's thick bass lines plus clicking guitar are attractive, giving the piece its forward motion.
Loueke's "Flying", originally on the guitarist's 2010 "Mwaliko" CD, opens with quiet guitar and the composer's overdubbed/electronically altered voices. One can also see the dancers jumping about to the rhythmic fire and, suddenly, the piece breaks out into a mid-1970s Weather Report-like funky swing, Werner's electric piano matching lines with the guitar. Zenon flies over the stop-and-start groove. During the keyboard solo, Koppel's baritone shadows the bass line, adding his deep voice to the mix. I laughed out loud at least 5 times at the brash energy and smoking rhythms that everybody plays.
"Swan Song" is the only ballad in the program and features a long, melodic, unaccompanied piano solo that is undeniably lovely and emotionally rich. Koppel's sweet solo on mezzo-soprano also stands out, soaring atop the spare but solid bass and drums. Loueke's fiery guitar solo changes the mood (the rhythm in the latter part of the piece is reminiscent of Keith Jarrett's work with Dewey Redman, Paul Motian and Charlie Haden) but the handsome blend of saxophones carries the tune to a peaceful conclusion.
The final 2 tracks take the CD on more rhythmic adventures, with "Tune 4" flowing on a Afro-Cuban rhythm with 2 excellent saxophone solos (Koppel's closes his mezzo-soprano spotlight with a nod to Sonny Rollins' "St. Thomas") and a rousing piano spot. "Wishful Dreaming" opens quietly with just acoustic piano behind Loueke's guitar and wordless vocals. Once the band enters, the rest of the band comes in on a waltz with the 2 saxophones weaving in and around each other. Slowly, the intensity picks up during Zenon's sweet solo, setting the stage for Koppel's even more intense mezzo-soprano solo. Werner tamps down the fire with a fine piano solo over the "clicking" guitar and Nemeth's handsome brush work. The main theme returns slowly fading out until Loueke's voices return and the reeds and piano flutter in the background. A serene finish to a great adventure.
Coalition has 4 live dates planned for 9/25-28, one at The Regatta Bar in Cambridge, MA and the remaining three at the Blue Note in NYC. It'd be a sin if this quintet does not tour more. However, their debut recording sounds great, especially at higher volumes (under headphones, the music shines brilliantly). The Half Note website remains under construction and Kenny Werner's site (kennywerner.com) contains no info about the quintet other than the live dates.