Monday, July 21, 2014

Mid-Summer Night Music

There are not as many concerts this week as last but what's on tap is quite interesting.

The Uncertainty Music Series presents an intriguing double-bill on Wednesday July 23 at 8 p.m. in The Big Room, 319 Peck Street in New Haven. Headlining the event is vocalist, composer, and multi-instrumentalist Jen Shyu. Ms. Shyu (pictured left), a native of Peoria, Illinois, got involved in the arts at the age of 6 when she began ballet training. At 7, she began studying violin and, at 8, started piano lessons.  She turned her attention to vocal training at the age of 12 continuing along different racks through her college career at Stanford University. Meeting Yosvany and Yunior Terry plus Dafnis Prieto turned her on to Afro-Cuban music, gong on to study in Cuba.  Over the last decade, Ms. Shyu has studied and performed with Steve Coleman Five Elements and gone on to study Taiwanese music and culture.  She has recorded with bassist Mark Dresser for Pi Recordings and issued 2 CDs as a leader for her own label. Ms. Shyu has also worked with Professor Anthony Braxton on his operas, including "Trillium E."

Her music certainly reflects her myriad interests, from storytelling to dance, traditional music to free improv.  Mixing and matching traditional instruments with her soprano voice, Ms. Shyu breaks down barriers. To find out more, go to

Opening the show will be the "Chamber Improvisation/New Music" Trio, Broadcloth.  Composed of Anne Rhodes (voice - she also works with Professor Braxton), Nathan Bontrager (cello, who plays in Prof. Braxton's Tri-Centric Orchestra) and Adam Matlock (accordion, who has recently been working with bassist Mario Pavone), the ensemble makes music that also moves through many different styles, from opera to free-improv and beyond, concentrating more on group interaction than on frequent solos.

For more information about Broadcloth, go to  To find more about the show and the series, go to

The Side Door Jazz Club in Old Lyme has 3 exciting shows scheduled this weekend. On Thursday, tenor saxophonist, bass clarinetist and composer Adam Kolker visits the venue with a Quartet that includes the great guitarist John Abercrombie (a rare CT gig for the New York state-based musician) plus the rhythm section of Joe Fitzgerald (bass) and Anthony Pinciotti (drums). Kolker, who is a busy free-lance player, is a member of Yard Byard, the quintet led by flutist/composer Jamie Baum, guitarist Jerome Harris and drummer George Schuller.  He also plays in reed sections of the Maria Schneider Orchestra and the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra  (formerly the Mel Lewis Orchestra).

His own music bring in influences from many styles of contemporary American music, from standards to intelligent originals.  Mr. Abercrombie, who is featured on the reed player's 2008 Sunnyside release, "Flag Day", does a fine job of blending his electric lines with the airy tenor and woody bass clarinet. To find out more about the leader and his music, go to

On Friday night, percussionist extraordinaire Steven Kroon brings his Sextet to the Old Lyme nightspot.  Born in Harlem and raised in Queens, the New York native listened closely to the jazz, r'n'b and Latin music that permeated his neighborhood. After studying with Tommy Lopez, Sr. (who taught many modern percussionists) and Dom Um Romao (from the early years of Weather Report), Kroon went on to work and tour with the great vocalist Luther Vandross and bassist Ron Carter while playing on dozens of recording sessions.

He's released 5 CDs as a leader, the latest, "On The #1", coming in May of this year. For this gig, his Sextet includes Igor Atalita (piano), Ruben Rodriguez (bass), Craig Rivers (saxophones, flute), Diego Lopez (drums) and Bryan Carrott (vibraphone).  This should be a fun evening, filled with exciting rhythms and dancing tunes.  To find to more about the leader, go to

Saturday, tenor saxophonist and composer Eric Wyatt comes to The Side Door to celebrate the release of his first U.S, recording, "Borough of Kings" (Posi-Tone Records - my review will be posted this weekend.)  Wyatt, a native of Brooklyn, New York!, had the joy of growing with a father who loved jazz and who introduced him, when he was in grade school, to both Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins. In fact, it was the tenor saxophone legend who secured a recording contract for Wyatt on the Japanese King label (where he released 4 CDs.)

Pianist Benito Gonzalez (just in Hartford supporting Azar Lawrence) and drummer Shinnosuke Takahashi, both of whom play on the new CD, join bassist Essiet Okon Essiet (also part of Lawrence's group) in the handsome performance space. To learn more about Eric Wyatt, go to

Doors open at 7:30 p.m. on each for the 8:30 first set.  For tickets, reservations and more information, go to or call 860-434-0886.

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