LIVE: The Chris Potter Trio @ A Place For Jazz, 11/13/15

November 19th, 2015, 4:00 pm by Greg
The Drew Gress Trio

The Chris Potter Trio

Review by Jeff Nania
Photographs by Rudy Lu

A Place For Jazz finished the 2015 season with saxophonist Chris Potter’s new trio featuring drummer Adam Cruz and bassist Drew Gress, as they gave the performance which launched the rest of their U.S. tour.

They may have had some reliable devices with which they arranged tunes – the Potter out front-solo-solo-repeated riff by Potter and Gress-formula popped up a few times, but these were incredibly effective in creating a semblance of meat and structure for what could otherwise be a harmonically deficient format.

Potter was also keen to switch up his instrumentation. He played mostly tenor but picked up a bass clarinet for the ethereal “Dream Three.” He played an unaccompanied intro then an ostinato melody section which existed somewhere outside of time while Cruz made his way around the kit with mallets on the drum set and Gress plucked out a deep brooding slow bass part. Potter finished stating the melody and handed it off to Gress for a bass solo while Cruz grabbed for a small shaker to ease the space back down to nothing as Gress then also had a chance to play unaccompanied before Cruz again picked up his brushes and laid them just on the snare drum for a bit with quiet bursts from the cymbals.

“Dream Three” may have been the most different tune of the evening, but that’s not to say that everything was all so straight-ahead. Sure, the trio played the beautiful Mal Waldron ballad “Soul Eyes,” and then later showed their appreciation to the crowd with an encore performance of Charlie Parker’s “Relaxin’ at Camarillo,” but there was plenty of hard driving stuff throughout the night, including the hard hitting opening which was an obscured but recognizable tune by the Police, and the Potter original “Dr. Bentley,” which was “for all you ‘Naked Lunch’ fans out there,” Potter said referencing William S. Burroughs’ famous novel.

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FILM: On Screen/Sound 6 @ EMPAC at RPI, 11/4/15

November 10th, 2015, 4:00 pm by Greg
Lis Rhodes’ “Light Music" @ EMPAC (photo:  Jeff Nania)

Lis Rhodes’ “Light Music” @ EMPAC (photo: Jeff Nania)

Review and photographs by Jeff Nania

The latest installment of EMPAC’s On Screen/Sound series continued its exploration into interesting and unique connections between film and sound last week with two pieces composed entirely for light. Lis Rhodes’ “Light Music,” and Henning Lohner and John Cage’s collaborative piece “One11 and 103” were both screened.

Notably, “Light Music” was the only piece of the entire On Screen/Sound series to be presented in Studio One with standing room only because it is meant to be experienced in an environmental space. Old school film projectors sat on the floor on either side of the room and sputtered at each other through a theatrical haze as they projected onto opposing screens. The visual images were black and white patterns printed onto the celluloid film and then read as both visual and audio information, so that what you see is also what you hear. It makes for a bath of early computer and videogame-esque sounds. Because of the haze that filled the room you could see this happening throughout the airspace as well.

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LIVE: Club d’Elf @ Club Helsinki, 10/15/11

October 24th, 2011, 2:00 pm by Greg

Club d’Elf is the perfect group for Club Helsinki. Their particular brand of artful Moroccan-infused trance music fits in with the artsy feel of the club. The décor, the bar, the tables, the dance floor, the music and the food are all reflections of this.

Last time they came through town, they had DJ Mr. Rourke with them, but this time they went without the DJ in favor of guitarist Randy Roos and percussionist Matt Kilmer. The addition of another percussionist allowed for extended jams that featured Mike Rivard on the Sintir (a three string morroccan bass lute) as the only melodic instrument and also the drum work of Dean Johnston with Brahim Fribgane on cajon and Kilmer on percussion.

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LIVE: The Terell Stafford-Dick Oatts Quintet @ the First Unitarian Society’s Whisperdome, 9/16/11

September 23rd, 2011, 2:00 pm by Greg
 The Terell Stafford-Dick Oatts Quintet

A Place For Jazz kicked off the 2011 season with the Terell Stafford – Dick Oatts Quintet, among the best bands of its kind on the scene right now. A solid NYC group, they play original arrangements of classic standards like Cole Porter’s “I Love You,” and tasty originals like the gumbo-infused “6/20/09 Express.”

The concerts are hosted in the First Unitarian Society’s Whisperdome in Schenectady which proved to be an especially good place to listen to Dick Oatts’ original “JCO Farewell.” The piece is a tribute to his late father, and it sounds somewhat like the introduction to John Coltrane’s “Acknowledgement” from the classic album “A Love Supreme,” except that it never breaks into a true groove.

Bassist David Wong began the tune with an extended introduction that was wise and contemplative. Wong’s tone and feel were both effortless, and he wasn’t afraid to breathe and leave himself space in between ideas. His head hung over his bass as his lines flowed out into the audience, and as soon as he looked up, the whole group entered with an ostinato section where the drummer rolled around the kit with mallets, and the horns gingerly recited the melody. As the horn melody finished, Wong continued with a bass solo that sat on top of the heavenly clouds laid by the piano and the bursts of thunder from the toms.

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Five Firsts: Bryson Barnes of Bryson Barnes/Jeff Nania Group

June 3rd, 2011, 11:14 am by Greg

Bryson Barnes

Bryson Barnes

NAME: Bryson Barnes
BAND AFFILIATION: Strength in Numbers; Barrelhouse Jazz Orchestra; Bryson Barnes/Jeff Nania Group
INSTRUMENT: Trumpet and vocals

1. THE FIRST ALBUM I EVER BOUGHT WAS … “Kind of Blue” by Miles Davis. Eminently swinging and heartbreakingly tender moments of supreme artistry. My first and still one of my favorite records.

2. THE FIRST CONCERT THAT I EVER SAW WAS … To be honest, I can’t exactly remember. A few of the artists who I saw live early on that made a lasting impression on me include the Gypsy Kings, Wallace Roney, Chuck Mangione, Phish, Jean-Michel Pilc, Robert Glasper and Wycliffe Gordon. Each one could’ve been the first, because their performances all helped me to consider music in a new way. I still go to shows today that inspire me to reassess how I think about music, and I believe that this cycle of rebirth of concept has served as creative fodder for countless artists past and present.

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LIVE: Francisco Lopez’s “Hyper-Rainforest” @ EMPAC at RPI, 4/28/11

May 5th, 2011, 1:00 pm by Greg

“There is no re-entry. It’s a 70-minute performance.” These words are what I was greeted with when arriving at Francisco Lopez’s latest project at EMPAC in Troy. The experience is to be taken as a whole. When I walked to the second door in the inner shell of EMPAC I was handed a blindfold.

Lopez’s performance piece “Hyper-Rainforest” is a form of digital shamanism. Lopez creates the setting and controls the 80-channel mix from his station at the sound board.

You walk into EMPAC’s concert hall and instead of the seats being filled to the brim, there is a round platform in the middle of the floor that has four concentric circles of cushioned black folding chairs facing a gap in the middle.

We (the audience) were sitting there staring at each other. It seemed like an odd mix between group therapy and a séance. The conversation and vibe seemed to rise and fall as the group occasionally grew loud, and then fell silent in anticipation.

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