Monday, November 23, 2015

Post-Thanksgiving But Not Leftovers

Oklahoma-native Sharel Cassity brings a dynamic band to The Side Door Jazz Club in Old Lyme the day after Thanksgiving (11/27).  The young alto saxophonist, who was mentored by such legends as Jimmy Heath and James Moody, has recorded 3 CDs as a leader plus has worked alongside Nicholas Payton Christian McBride, Anat Cohen, and Natalie Cole among many.

Joining her on the well-lit stage in Old Lyme will be Freddie Hendrix (trumpet, flugelhorn), Luis Perdomo (piano), Alex Claffy (bass) and the exciting E.J. Strickland (drums). If there is any lethargy after the big Holiday meals, this quintet will get you up and grooving.

To find out more about Ms. Cassity, go to

Houston Chronicle
There will be no diminution in the sound or the quality of the music the following night (11/28) as The Side Door welcomes drummer-composer Reggie Quinerly and an impressive Quartet. The Houston, Texas, native first came to critical notice with his debut CD, 2012's "Music Inspired by Freedmantown", an ode to the section of his hometown established by emancipated African Americans after the Civil War (my review is here).
Turns out he was quite well known in the jazz community, having worked with Joe Lovano, Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Greg Osby and others.

What a fine ensemble he's assembled for this gig, one that includes pianist Orrin Evans, bassist Ben Wolfe, and trumpeter Antoine Drye.  Quinerly's compositions are not just made for "blowing" - he tells stories with his songs, ones that reach into the history of jazz as well as looks forward.  This should be yet another "4 Star" night on Old Lyme.

For more information about the artist, go to  To make a reservation and get more information, go to or call 860-434-0886.

For the first time in a long while, there's been a change in the lineup of the Matthew Shipp Trio.  Long-time drummer Whit Dickey has moved on, replaced by the veteran Newman Taylor Baker, who powered ensembles led by Henry Threadgill, Leroy Jenkins and Billy Harper.

Bassist Michael Bisio, he of the full tones and long, winding, phrases, remains in the rhythm section for "The Conduct of Jazz" (Thirsty Ear), the latest addition to Shipp's ever-growing discography.  Critics are forever trying to posit the pianist and composer into a particular sub-genre of jazz but this new music again demonstrates his ability to play just about anything.  "Instinctive Touch" opens with the 3 musicians trying to find their footing around the circular piano lies but the listen as the phrases spread out, as the bassist creates an active counterpoint and the drummer chatters beneath.  The title track swings mercilessly, not unlike a Herbie Nichols Trio piece; again, the melody expands as the piece bops forward. Notice the hearty swing rhythm that Baker creates yet he has no issues following Shipp as he plays with the time.  There's a hint of McCoy Tyner in the throbbing chords at the onset of "Blue Abyss" yet the pianist goes in several unexpected directions through the song, the repetitive phrases roiling above the rock solid drums. As the song progresses, Shipp gets deeper into the blues but never deserts the throbbing chords.

The final 2 tracks bring the album to a rousing finish.  "Stream of Light", a solo piano piece (the only one on the program), is a work to get lost in.  Shipp never settles into a rhythm but creates quite a world with his two hands.  There are sporadic flashes of melody and counterpoint in his left hand, leaving the right to move freely in and out of melody and time. Go back and listen several times - the "stream" in the title refers to the changing flow in the music. What follows is the longest track (12:37), titled "The Bridge Across" - the episodic nature of the music allows one to hear how the musicians interact, how Baker both drives and "colors" the music, how the lines Shipp and Bisio play flow in and out of each other, and especially how the music is always moving forward (sometimes at breakneck speed).  

"The Conduct of Jazz" makes for an intense 50 minute of music.  But, as the music of Matthew Shipp has evolved, the intensity now contains numerous sections of grace and reflections.  He's not slowing down as much as continuing to explore the multitude of avenues creative music can take.

To find out more, go to

Go behind the scenes with this video clip:

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