Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Spring Flings, Live Gigs

Drummer Ches Smith (pictured left) is one busy musician, with regular gigs in the rhythm section of groups led by saxophonist Tim Berne, guitarists Mary Halvorson and Marc Ribot.  Plus, he leads several groups of his own.

His latest venture is a trio with pianist Craig Taborn and violist Mat Maneri. They will be performing 2 sets - 8:30 and 10 p.m. - this Friday (4/11) at Firehouse 12 in New Haven.  The music, dubbed by Smith as "aggro-chamber pieces" is filled with interactive improvisation, themes with hairpin curves and moments that have whisper-soft sounds.

For ticket information, go to or call 203-785-0468.  To find out more about Ches Smith, go to

Perhaps you want a softer evening of improvisations, ones that are based on classic compositions of the 20th Century. If so, the guitar duo of Bucky Pizzarelli & Ed Laub will fit your bill. They'll be playing this Friday at The Side Door Jazz Club in Old Lyme, an intimate setting for music that sings and swings.  Most music fans know Mr. Pizzarelli, who turned 89 this past January, for his years of work with the Tonight Show Band, with Benny Goodman and with Frank Sinatra or just for the fact he's the father of guitarist and vocalist John Pizzarelli.  His 7-string guitar sound has graced hundreds of recordings and influenced a number of contemporary guitarists.  One of them is the 63 year-old Ed Laub who's studied with the elder Pizzarelli's uncle (moving on to study with his mentor several years later) while growing up in New Jersey. After graduating from college, he not only went into the family business but also continued to work as a guitarist.  He left the business world in the early 2000s and formed this duo; they have been performing together ever since, releasing a guitar trio CD with the younger Pizzarelli in 2014.

Doors open at 7:30 p.m. with the first notes ringing out at 8:30.

Pianist Kevin Hays returns to The Side Door on Saturday night with his long-time trio of bassist Rob Jost and drummer Greg Joseph. They are celebrating the release of Hays's new CD, "Sunny Day" (Sunnyside Records), a bit of a departure for the Connecticut native in that he sings on several tracks, in a voice that may remind some, on certain songs, of Mose Allison. The recording, produced by Matt Pierson, also features the excellent guitar work of Tony Scherr and the evocative chromatic harmonica work of Gregoire Maret.  Hays is equally creative on acoustic and electric piano; adding his voice to the mix has added to his repertoire of songs as well giving new ways to express himself. There is an easy funky, even bluesy feeling to this music, hearkening back to the singer-songwriters of the 1970s (Carole King, James Taylor, and others) and it's quite enjoyable.

As open, the music begins at 8:30 p.m.  For more information, go to or call 860-434-0886. To find out more about the pianist/vocalist, go to

Here's a taste of the new album:

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