Tuesday, November 17, 2015

More Dave D, More Side Door Jazz + Smoking O.P.

Last Friday evening, as the horrific news from Paris was filling the airwaves, the Dave Douglas Quintet played 2 inspired sets of music at The Side Door Jazz Club on Old Lyme, CT. Knowing well that music can help to assuage fears and heal the pain caused by incidents in the "real" world, the group - trumpeter Douglas, pianist Matt Mitchell, tenor saxophonist Jon Irabagon, bassist Linda Oh and drummer Rudy Royston - filled the room with songs that ranged from improvisational romps to Americana ballads ("Barbara Allen" was a particular highlight).

The DDQ is in the midst of the final leg of a long stretch of touring, one that concludes with 4-night run at The Jazz Standard in New York City (11/19-22).  They'll be recording all 4 nights and releasing the 8 sets on November 24 (you can purchase as many nights as you want or - what the heck - the entire run); Douglas did this twice before at the venue, once with his earlier Quintet (Uri Caine, Donny McCaslin, James Genus and Clarence Penn) in 2006 and again in 2010 with the Keystone sextet (Marcus Strickland, Adam Benjamin, Brad Jones, Gene Lake and DJ Olive).

If you've heard the current Quintet, you know how exciting, explosive and melodic it can be.  To find out more, go to www.greenleafmusic.com/15187-2/.

This weekend, The Side Door Jazz Club welcomes saxophonist Craig Handy & 2nd Hand Smith on Friday evening (11/20) for 2 sets of high-energy New Orleans-flavored music.  Handy, who has worked with so many great musicians and ensembles, from Betty Carter to Art Blakey to Herbie Hancock to the Mingus Dynasty to The Cookers, gets a robust sound from his tenor saxophone.  Joining him on this funky venture is Kyle Koehler (organ), Matt Chertkoff (guitar), Jerome Jennings (drums) and the great Clark Guyton (sousaphone). I expect the room will be jumping!

On Saturday, The Side Door swings open to welcome trumpeter and composer Sean Jones and his superb Quartet.  Joining the Ohio native on the bandstand will be Hartford's own Luques Curtis (bass), Mark Whitfield, Jr. (drums) and the great Philadelphia-based pianist Orrin Evans. Jones has just replaced fellow trumpeter Avishai Cohen in the prestigious SF Jazz Collective plus he is the artistic director for both the Cleveland and Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestras.

The door of The Side Door opens at 7:30 p.m. both nights with the first set commencing at 8:30.  For ticket reservations and more information, go to thesidedoorjazz.com or call 860-434-0886.

Cellist Erik Friedlander is a wonderfully eclectic musician - his repertoire ranges from classical to Americana to beyond and he is with an engaging soloist and composer.  In 2008, Friedlander released "Broken Arm Trio" (Skipstone Records), a collection inspired by bassist Oscar Pettiford (1922-1960) and pianist Herbie Nichols.  Pettiford was an extremely prolific musician and composer and, when he broke his arm in 1949, he took up the cello and soon integrated it into his music.

For "Broken Arm..", Friedlander play pizzicato throughout and used the rhythm section of Trevor Dunn (acoustic bass) and Michael Sarin (drums), both of whom are members of the cellist's Bonebridge band. The rhythm section is back again for the new album, "Oscalypso" (Skipstone), a collection of 9 Pettiford originals; to spice up the session, Michael Blake (tenor and soprano saxophones) joins the trio serving as both a sonic foil for Friedlander and an impressive soloist. To its credit, the quartet does not attempt to update the sound and feel of Pettiford's pieces. Needless to say, because the bassist/cellist came of age in the be-bop, this music contain a great deal of swing an forward motion. After a mysterious swirl of sound, "Bohemia After Dark" jumps out on the strength of Dunn and Sarin. Dunn states the theme, then Friedlander and Blake (tenor sax) join him and the piece takes off.  Blake's softer attack on tenor may remind some of Ben Webster and Lester Young yet he plays with great authority. Another fairly famous Pettiford composition, "Tricotism", has such a gentle push, with the theme passed around from the bass to the cello to tenor.  Sarin's delicate brush work sways pleasantly as all solo above him. One can also hear the influence the blues had on the composer.

So much of this music is quite delightful. The joyful jump of "Cello Again" with its twisting and turning melody lines and the rapid-fire phrases of "Cable Car" lift up the spirit each time one listens.  The beautiful ballad (the only really slow tune in the program) "Two Little Pearls" (Pettiford's rearrangement of a melody by Antonin Dvořák) features strong soprano work from Blake and excellent bowed cello.  The closing track, "Sunrise Sunset" (no relation to the tune from "Fiddler on the Roof") also features inspired arco work from Freidlander a rousing tenor sax solo, and inspired drumming from Sarin (he even gets a short solo near the close that also has the great drive one hears earlier on the title piece.)

I cannot think of a better way to pass 45 minutes than to fall under the spell of "Oscalypso".  The quartet of Erik Friedlander, Michael Blake, Trevor Dunn, and Michael Sarin (pictured above, left) dig right into the music, capturing the essence of the spirit of Oscar Pettiford, the man and his far-ranging compositions.

For more information, go to music.erikfriedlander.com/album/oscalypso.

Here's a taste of the album:

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