LIVE: Hudson @ The Bardavon, 10/4/17

October 19th, 2017, 4:00 pm by Greg
Hudson

Hudson

Review and photographs by Rudy Lu

Super-groups often do not live up to their expectations because although the musicians separately are indeed virtuosos/superstars by themselves, the group may not gel because they lack purpose and a common vision. This is not the case with Hudson, a band that is comprised of jazz all-stars living in the Hudson Valley (hence the name).

They had played together initially as a unit at a jazz festival in Woodstock back in 2014. They had a good time but did not get a chance to play and record again until earlier this year at NRS studios in Catskill, where they recorded their self-titled debut CD that was released in June. The intent and feel of the recording was to reinterpret the music of the Hudson Valley on their terms.

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This band appeared earlier this summer at the Freihofer Saratoga Jazz Festival at Saratoga Performing Arts Center, and they were back in Greater Nippertown this month for a homecoming concert at The Bardavon in Poughkeepsie.

Opening with a cover Jimi Hendrix’s “Wait Until Tomorrow,” they covered that spacey composition based upon the call/response structure of old R&B tunes and launched it from Hendrix’s galaxy into outer space with electronic sounds emanating from John Medeski’s keyboards, Wes Montgomery-like octaves from John Scofield’s guitar building into serious rock riffage.

This led into the equally spacey group composition, “Hudson.” “El Swing” swung not necessarily for dancers, but again for those traveling through space.

They slipped into a second Hendrix cover, and master drummer Jack DeJohnette challenged the audience to recognize it. The melody of the semi-poem “Castles Made of Sand” were played with Scofield alternating from jazz to country guitar, a genre he successfully covered and reinterpreted last year with his solo recording, Country for Old Men. For those who could not guess the song, DeJohnette left no doubt when he sang the words of the last verse.

A bluesy Bill Payne-like piano introduction followed by Larry Grenadier’s rock steady bass led into The Band’s classic “Up on Cripple Creek” with Scofield and DeJohnette sharing the vocal duties.

An instrumental interpretation of Bob Dylan’s relevant-as-ever protest song “A Hard Rain Is Gonna Fall” took the composition way beyond the lyrics of the song. After playing the initial melody, Medeski interpreted the chaos of a nuclear war with wild sounds from his B3 and his electronic keyboard. DeJohnette fury and intensity would have been amazing for a drummer one-third his age (he just turned 75). Deep-dish bass lines from Grenadier and guitar riffing from Scofield felt like cries of anguish.

After all the music that was on the outer edge of the definition of jazz, the band launched into a Hammond B3 organ/guitar groove almost as if to say, “We are jazz musicians. Fooled ya, didn’t we”?

The smiles and grins on Larry Grenadier’s face through most of the set clearly reflected the joy the rest of the band was feeling playing this music.

The encore was a fairly straight cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock.” A fitting final statement for the evening.

I hope the musicians in Hudson will find the time soon in their busy individual schedules to record a second project and tour again. The quartet truly is a super-band both in star power and performance.

GO HERE to see more of Rudy Lu’s photographs of the concert…

Jack DeJohnette and John Scofield

Jack DeJohnette and John Scofield

Larry Grenadier

Larry Grenadier

John Medeski

John Medeski

Jack DeJohnette and John Scofield

Jack DeJohnette and John Scofield