Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Sold Out, Young Jazz, Mature Jazz, + CD Pick

This would be a lovely weekend to catch live music.  Nels Cline and Julian Lage, 2 guitarists who can and do play just about anything, are in the midst of a tour that celebrating the recent release of "Room" on Mack Avenue Records. That tour brings them to Firehouse 12 in New Haven this Friday evening for 2 sets - 8:30 and 10 p.m.  Both sets are sold out and have been for a while. If you call 203-785-0468, they'll put your name on the waiting list.

Go to nelscline.com for more information.

The Side Door Jazz Club in Old Lyme welcomes the septet known as Holophonor on Friday April 17 for 2 sets.  The 7 musicians - Josh Johnson (alto saxophone), Mike Cottone (trumpet), Erik Miller (trombone), Diego Urbano (vibraphone), Miro Sprague (piano), Dave Robaire (bass) and Jonathan Pinson (drums) - first met in 2012 as they were attending the prestigious Thelonious Monk Institute at UCLA's Herb Alpert School of Music.   They issued their self-titled debut CD in 2014.  Listening to that album, you can hear that the band is quite accomplished, that they have learned their lessons well, and that they are well on their way to creating a sound of their own. What stands out the most to me is that they do not get in each other's way, the music never sends cluttered. For more inflation, go to www.holophonormusic.com.

Here's a taste of the band's music to whet your appetite:

Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and the septet hits the stage at 8:30.

Baltimore, MD, native Steve Carrington brings his tenor saxophone and a sterling quartet to The Side Door on Saturday night.  Carrington, who self-released his debut CD in 2014 (with the catchy name of "A Caring Tone"), plays in the hard post-bop style of the late 1960s and 70s but eschews the heavier tones of players like Pharaoh Sanders and John Coltrane.  There is also a pleasing bluesy style to his ballad work. Joining him in Old Lyme will be pianist Anthony Wonsey, drummer Winard Harper and bassist Curtis Lundy.

Music starts at 8:30 p.m.  For more information, go to thesidedoorjazz.com or call 860-434-0886.

The Uncertainty Music Series continues Saturday night with a double bill.  Headlining the show is the Daniel Levin Quartet, a group led by the cellist/composer Levin and featuring CT native Matt Moran (vibraphone), Nate Wooley (trumpet) and Pedro Ström (bass).  While there is a "chamber music" quality to the group's sound, they also feature a lot of free improvisation. Both Moran and Wooley are young veterans of the creative music scene, displaying the ability to play in any style.

Opening the show, which takes place at 3 p.m. in G Cafe, 141 Orange Street in New Haven, will be the trio of Chris Cretella (guitar), Louis Guarino, Jr (trumpet) and series curator Carl Testa (bass, electronics). For more information, go to uncertaintymusic.com and to learn more about the venue, go to www.wholeg.com/g-cafe-new-haven.html.

Pianist/composer David Ake, whose previous Posi-Tone release "Bridges" was one of the more impressive CDs of 2013, has a new album.  "Lake Effect" finds Ake in the company of Peter Epstein (alto and soprano saxophones), Sam Minaie (bass) and the master drummer Mark Ferber.  There is so much to enjoy in this music from the articulate piano solos to the inventive playing of Epstein to the solid bass work and pay close attention to how Ferber moves the faster pieces and colors the ballads.  Several of the tracks have the sound and feel of Keith Jarrett's "European" Quartet (with Jan Garbarek, Palle Danielson and Jan Christensen).  "The Cubs" shows that influence in the soprano  sax and drums interaction, in the winding road of the piano solo but also notice the vocal-like drumming.  Notice the calypso feel in Thelonious Monk's "Bye-Ya", a joyful romp from the opening notes.  Everybody gets to play the melody before Ake jumps into his solo, also an extension of that playful theme.  Epstein roams far afield but never loses touch with the rhythm section.

A close look at the cover art will give a clue as to the introspective nature of the ballads.  The program opens with Ake's original "Lone Pine (for Charlie Haden)" a solo piano piece that is emotionally rich, a simple melody that never loses its way. The melody unfolds slowly on "Tricycles", with Epstein moving high in the alto range; the intensity level ratchets up as well yet the piece never loses its legato flow.  "Silver Thaw" opens with quiet piano chords before Ake plays the Erik Satie-like melody. Ferber's percussion is ever-so-soft behind the piano and it may be a moment before you even hear Epstein's alto playing along with the melody.  Soprano and piano are the 2 voices on the lovely "Palhaço", an early work of Brazilian composer/pianist/guitarist Egberto Gismonti and I'm not sure mere words can describe the beauty of the performance.  The program comes to a close with the title track, another piece that starts quietly (this time, with a bass solo) and slowly builds a fire but not before Ake plays an impressionistic solo. It's Epstein's alto solo that ignites the rhythm section and Ferber who stokes the fire, first in support then taking the lead.  As as been stated before on this blog, engineer Nick O'Toole really knows how to record the drum set, putting the listener in the middle and never at the expense of the other instrumentalists.

The title "Lake Effect" may bring to mind cold wind and blowing snow but there is much warmth (and some playfulness) in the music of David Ake. Like fellow pianist Frank Kimbrough, he never wastes a note nor does he ever overplay.  He makes certain all the musicians are involved (although I did not write much about bassist Minaie, his forcful work and melodic phrases are  integral to the success of the quartet tracks.)  Good music for the spring thaw, "Lake Effect" will please you any time of year.  For more information, go to www.davidakemusic.com.

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