Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Holiday Weekend Music + CD Picks
They'll play 2 sets - 8:30 and 10 p.m. - for more information, go to firehouse12.com or call 203-785-0468.
Here's a track off the Trio's debut CD:
What emerges out her recordings is that Ms. Pascale has a firm grasp on her material, a soulful voice and a deep knowledge of jazz history. Listening to her recordings, one understands that she never "oversells" a song, preferring to take her time, making sure the listener hears the story. To find out more, go see Joanna Pascale this weekend or check out www.joannapascale.com.
Here's a taste of "Overjoyed":
The doors open at 7:30 p.m. and the music starts at 8:30. For more information, go thesidedoorjazz.com or call 860-434-0886.
Here's a taste of Mr. Ledonne's blues chops on Percy Mayfield's "Please Send Me Someone to Love":
Now, there is "Fast Future", featuring the core quartet plus producer Binney on synths and backing vocals. The music builds upon the language of the preceding turn while allowing for quieter moments. McCaslin, who can be such a lyrical yet powerful player in the Maria Schneider Orchestra, shows that side on his piece, "Midnight Light", caressing the melody while Lindner (on acoustic piano) adds colors around him. For the most part, the program burns with an intensity that is engaging and truly exciting. The title track opens the album, its sinewy rhythms kicked out by Guiliana, and the leader flying over them. Lefebvre fills the bottom with his amazing thick tones (the speakers do rattle when he hits those low notes) and Lindner contributes plenty of colors. The tenor saxophone stands in for the plaintive vocal on "No Eyes" (a piece from the electronica artist Baths) and Binney adds wordless vocals. The bouncy "pop" feel with the sharp synth beats merges well with the handsome melody while allowing McCaslin to be himself on the short but sweet saxophone solo. The saxophonist and the producer are fans of Aphex Twin and include a short but furious reading of "54 Cymru Beats" - while McCaslin plays acoustically, his bent notes and husky squeals jump and twist over the belching synths and amazing drum work. Binney's composition "This Side of Sunrise" includes a melody that pairs the tenor sax with synth - Lindner's percussive keys add an extra layer of beat underneath the sax solo.
The CD closes "Squeeze Thru", a McCaslin composition that subtly blends reggae with electronica with its stop-and-start approach in the rhythm section. The bassist dances around while the drummer pushes and pulls. The leader plays a solo that blends short, percussive, phrases with longer flowing lines. He never sounds as if he's anything but fully engaged.
"Fast Future" is quite playful and filled with strong playing. In interviews, Donny McCaslin said that David Binney came prepared to the sessions with many ideas, working with the leader's compositions to make these pieces come to life. Some may say that McCaslin has abandoned jazz but he's really doing what the great artists, people like Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Mary Lou Williams, Wayne Shorter and others, did and continue to do throughout their career - move forward, experiment, listen to what's going on around them, distill it with their own contributions and keep searching. For more information, go to www.donnymccaslin.com.
Here's the fine version of "No Eyes":
To his credit, Blaser finds his own way into that material, whether its the ethereal reading of Carla Bley's "Jesus Maria", the playful piano-trombone duo of Giuffre's "Scootin' About", or the more solemn duo with Lossing on "Cry, Want." The Giuffre influence is evident on the Blaser original "Spring Rain"; it's very quiet throughout, barely rising above a whisper until close to the end. The music glides forward on the repetitive piano lines, leaving the bassist to bow and drummer to color beneath the melodic trombone. On "Missing Mark Sutterlyn" (also by Blaser), the trombonist also pays tribute to Albert Mangelsdorf - it's a bluesy piece with trombone multiphonics, funky drumming, thick yet melodic bass lines and rollicking, noisy, electric and acoustic keyboards. The blend of keyboards on Blaser's "The First Snow" frolics atop the bass and drums, Lossing basically "trading 4s" with himself. The trombonist gets in on the action with a boisterous solo pushed along by Cleaver's explosive drumming. The dancing quality of "Counterparts" features more fine work from the drummer (especially on the drums-bone duo in the middle) The pianist moves inside the acoustic piano on the leader's "Umbra", a duo that moves from plaintive melodic lines to rumbling piano backing.
"Spring Rain" has an impressive blend of serious and playful moments, music to contemplate yet not fuss over. There is often a minimalist quality to the music of Samuel Blaser but not at the expense of melody or interaction. The "conversations" on the recording rarely last long - Blaser's solo piece "Homage" runs a mere 66 seconds - with only "Jesus Maria" over 6 minutes (8:01) yet the listener has much to digest (including the impressive use of silence). Sit down and listen all the way through, then listen again. This "Spring Rain" is a quite refreshing experience.
For more information, go to samuelblaser.com.
Here's Ms. Bley's "Temporarily":