Monday, March 20, 2017

Spring Weekend Music

Trombonist and composer Joe Fiedler, a native of Pittsburgh, PA, is one busy musician. Since moving to New York City in 1993, he has worked with the likes of Cecil Taylor, Eddie Palmieri, Ed Palermo's Big Band, the Mingus Big Band, and has been the music director for television's "Sesame Street."  In addition, he leads his own trio plus a quartet of "low" brass quartet (three trombones and a tuba) known as Big Sackbut.

This Friday (3/24), Fiedler releases a new album, "Like, Strange" (Multiphonics Music), celebrates his 52nd birthday, and performs with the quintet from that album at Firehouse 12 in New Haven, CT.  Besides his regular rhythm section of Rob Jost (bass, flugelhorn) and Michael Sarin (drums), the ensemble includes the always fascinating Jeff Lederer (saxophones, clarinet) and Pete McCann (guitar).

The album is a delight from the opening track, the feisty "Go Get It", to the closing sonic adventure (replete with wacky "salsa" dancing rhythms) "Yinz."  One cannot help but notice how rhythmical this music can be.  There's the sly humor of "Maple Avenue Tango", its slinky melody rising atop the dancing bass and drums plus McCann's "clicking" guitar lines.  How about the funky strut of the title track replete with "wah-wah" guitar riffs?The tune has a melody section that sounds like a cross between The Meters and the Crusaders.  The interlocking tenor and trombone dance through the melody lines on "Guiro Neuvo" while Lederer switches to soprano to join Fiedler's 'bone on "A Ladybug In My Notebook", both pieces with a pronounced forward motion - in fact, Jost and Sarin are essential to the vitality of this music, often pushing the soloists throughout with their forceful support.  On "..Ladybug..", McCann's rollicking solo stands out as does his "slippery" rhythm support and raucous and rocking solo on "Quasi." Lederer and Fiedler deliver powerful solos on that track, the saxophonist trading "4s" with Sarin near the end.  Even the bassist gets in on the fun with a short but pulsating solo. The front line also enlivens the vivacious and Latin-flavored "Tuna Fish Cans" yet listen as well to the delightful work of the rhythm section.

The energy of the music on "Like, Strange" leads one to believe that the live gigs for this band will be exciting, even a bit frisky. Joe Fiedler and his Quintet are in the midst of an East Coast tour and, judging by the material and interactions of the album, this music will positively alter your mood and set your feet dancing. We could all use a bit of fun as this long winter comes to a close.

To find out more about Mr. Feidler and his music, go to

The Firehouse 12 show on Friday starts at 8:30 p.m. with a second set (separate admission) at 10 p.m.   For more information and tickets, go to or call 203-785-0468.

The Side Door Jazz Club in Old Lyme welcomes back the Fred Hersch Trio on Friday.  Pianist and composer Hersch has been a regular at the club since its opening appearing with his splendid rhythm section - bassist John H├ębert and drummer Eric McPherson - on numerous occasion as well as the rare solo gig. The Trio's sets combine standards, originals, the obligatory Thelonious Monk tune (the pianist is one of the best contemporary practitioners of that composer's music), and a few surprises.  An educator, producer, composer, conceptualist, and performer, Fred Hersch makes music that plumbs the depths of his mind and soul whether he is caressing a melody or "swinging" with abandon.

The Trio hits the stage at 8:30 p.m. For more information, go to

Call 860-434-2600 for reservations (if you can get one) - these shows always sell out.

Here's the Trio in action:

On Saturday night, The Side Door presents a return visit from Expansions: Dave Liebman Group.  The great tenor and soprano saxophonist, who has been active on the contemporary music scene since the early 1970s, has become one of the finer educator and mentor of and for young musicians.  This quintet, which features veteran acoustic and electric bassist Tony Marino, includes a trio of excellent younger musicians including pianist Bobby Avey, alto saxophonist and flutist Matt Vashlishan, and drummer/percussionist Alex Ritz. This group's repertoire lives up to its name as it is quite expansive, building upon the legacy of Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Wayne Shorter as well as the work that its leader did with Richie Bierach & Lookout Farm, and Quest.  The band explores swing, hard bop, funk, modern classical music, standards (check out the version of "Love Me Tender" below) and much more.

The first set starts at 8:30 p.m.  For reservations, call the number above or go to

Here's two videos of Expansions (courtesy of Eddie Owens Productions):

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