Sunday, April 14, 2013
Small Constructions Live, Afro-Cuban Fusion Live + CD Picks
Over a couple of nights, the duo recorded a number of originals (3 each), 2 Thelonious Monk pieces), a piece by Lennie Tristano, a standard, an adaptation of a work by George F. Handel and an improvised original. Some pieces have overdubs, others just the 2 players; 2 pieces clear the 6 minute while 2 barely go past 2 minutes. The CD, released by Sunnyside on March 12 of this year, is titled "Small Constructions." Right around the release date, the duo played a series of live shows in the States and Europe during which the pieces on the recording plus others really came to life.
For their Firehouse gig, Messrs. Wendel and Tepfer will play 2 sets, 8:30 and 10 p.m. (separate admission charges). For more information, go to firehouse12.com or call 203-785-0468. To learn more about "Small Constructions". go to sunnysidezone.com/album/small-constructions.
The rhythm section (minus the piano) drives like a runaway train on the hard-bopping "The Worse the Deed, the Better the Confession". O'Day is the main catalyst here, his expressive drumming pushing the saxophonist to dig deep on every phrase. He and Ashlar get into a tango groove on "Cartas de Suelta" and Ankrum's tenor dances with joy to their celebration. The piano solo has the feel of a rainstorm on a hot night, the notes falling all around the listener.
The final 2 tracks, "The Silent Part of Your Soul" and "Searching For What You Never Lost", are group improvisations, the former starting slowly and building surely to a boil atop the dancing bass lines while Ankrum's tenor sax dances the latter piece in, prompting the ensemble to get into his sweet groove. The piece changes course several times through its 11+ minutes. After a lengthy bass solo, Singleton drops into a funky bass line and the band, led by Ankrum, ride it until the end.
"The Dream of the Ballerina" should satisfy those listeners who dig a groove but also like an ensemble that takes chances yet can play it straight. It's good to hear Larry Ankrum playing so well (and displaying fine flute "chops") and his band truly shines. Go to www.larryankrum.com to find out more.
Okeh is back in 2013 and it's first release is a solo recording by John Medeski (yes, he of MM&W). Titled "A Different Time", Medeski recorded the program on a 1924 Gaveau piano. Built in France, the instrument has a delicate sound and Medeski responds with a program that is meditative, highly melodic and strongly impressionistic. 7 of the 9 songs are originals with the exceptions being a sweet and ever-so-slow reading of Willie Nelson's "I'm Falling In Love Again" plus a fine arrangement of the Gospel classic "His Eye Is On the Sparrow." Medeski's "Luz Marina" shows the influence of Erik Satie in its chord patterns and gentle melody while "Lacrima" opens with notes that seem to drip from the pianist's fingers. "Ran" has a darker quality, not unlike the minimalist style of Mr. Blake for whom (I believe) the song is written.
In his liner notes, John Medeski hopes "that this recording can be listened to late at night, when social responsibilities are over...when all need and wants have been put to momentary rest....when you are tired of words, when you are ready to yield to the sounds of these simple contemplations for the Gaveau." Don't come to this CD expecting the explorations of Martin, Medeski and Wood. Quiet, gentle, somber and peaceful, "A Different Time" is a balm for bad days, for sadness, to be listened to with the lights dimmed (or totally out), alone or with a person you love. For more information, go to www.johnmedeski.com.