Posts Tagged ‘Andrzej Pilarczyk’

LIVE: Jazz at the Lake @ Lake George High School Auditorium, 9/13/14 (Day One)

Monday, September 22nd, 2014
Anat Cohen (photo by Rudy Lu)

Anat Cohen (photo by Rudy Lu)

Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Rudy Lu, Andrzej Pilarczyk, M. Cheri Bordelon

Weather has always been a factor at Jazz at the Lake, but it’s usually just dropping temperatures reminding us that fall is only a couple of weeks away. This year, the rain came down hard enough to move the first day of the festival to the rain site at Lake George High School. As I walked up to the complex of buildings on Canada Street, I had visions of a cavernous gym with a small, old stage under one of the basketball hoops. Fortunately, when the high school got a makeover back in the ’90s, it included a 500-seat theater with good acoustics and great sightlines; unfortunately, school staff couldn’t get the ventilation system working, which made things a bit close as the afternoon went on and the house filled almost to capacity.

Mind you, the crowd could easily have believed the temperatures were just a way of creating a sultry atmosphere for Manuel Valera & New Cuban Express, who went off like a rocket from the first notes of “New Cuban Express,” the title track from Valera’s 2012 release. You can’t help but smile when a good Afro-Cuban band is on its game, and this group had all the ingredients: Manuel Valera is a demon keyboard player and a monster composer; drummer Ludwig Afonso and conguero Mauricio Herrera were a relentless percussion machine, and utility bassman Hans Glawishchnig is as fat on electric 5-string as he is on a stand-up acoustic. But Valera took the extra step of bringing sax fiend/percussionist Yosvany Terry to Lake George, and Terry’s searing alto lines go far beyond simple “Let’s Salsa” flag-waving. Valera’s own solos had the same level of virtuosity, taking the standard A/C formula and shooting it to a dizzying height. Festival-goers were hugging the walls by the time NCE knocked its last shot out of the park, earning them the first standing ovation of the day.

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LIVE: Billy Cobham’s Spectrum 40 Band @ The Egg, 8/30/14

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014
Billy Cobham

Billy Cobham

Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

Back in the late ’60s and early ’70s, Billy Cobham established himself as one of the prime architects of the jazz-rock fusion sound as the drummer with such bands as Dreams (featuring the Brecker Brothers), Miles Davis (on his classic 1970 “A Tribute to Jack Johnson” album) and the high-flying Mahavishnu Orchestra. Melding jazz sensibilities and rock aggression, Cobham struck the perfect balance.

Now 70 years old, does Cobham still have the right stuff? Oh yes, indeed, he does. In concert in front of a nearly packed house at The Egg’s Swyer Theatre recently, he deftly walked the tightrope between explosive power and exacting precision.

He was leading his Spectrum 40 Band, in celebration of the 40th anniversary of Spectrum, his groundbreaking 1973 solo album debut, but Cobham wasn’t content to merely throw together a “tribute band” for a routine retrospective run through Spectrum in its entirity. Oh no. In fact, he and the band were nearly a half hour into their show before they launched into their first selection from Spectrum, a muscular, funky strut through “Stratus,” which showcased the thrumming bass pulse of Ric Fierabracci, the angular, glitch ‘n’ pop attack of keyboardist Gary Husband and the seismic guitar freak-out of Dean Brown.

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LIVE: Diane Cluck @ Caffe Lena, 9/14/14

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014
 Diane Cluck

Diane Cluck

Review and photograph by Andrzej Pilarczyk

Soft spoken and, in a way shy, Diane Cluck is the kind of performer that makes her audience lean into the song to hear the words… because they want to. Not because of lack of amplification, but because it’s an intimate thing. Her lovely, woven tapestry of story-telling through song – like her vivid tune about Monte Carlo – makes the listeners follow the story as if they were a part of it.

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LIVE: The Fray @ the Palace Theatre, 9/9/14

Monday, September 15th, 2014
The Fray

The Fray

Radio station 99.5 The River hosted its “Fall Night In” concert at Albany’s Palace Theatre this past Tuesday night, and while King Crimson was churning up a massive night of prog-rock over at The Egg, the Palace took on a more pop-oriented triple-bill with the Fray headlining the evening’s festivities in support of their latest album, Helios.

But it was A Great Big World – keyboardist-vocalist Ian Axel and vocalist-trumpeter Chad Vaccarino with their backing band – who all but stole the show with their omni-present hit, “Say Something” (co-written by Albany High grad Mike Campbell).

Pop singer-songwriter Andy Grammer opened the show, and brought out a bunch Local 518 friends and contest winners to sing along with him onstage for “Back Home.”

SECOND OPINIONS
Tom Templeton’s review at The Times Union

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LIVE: Louise Schulman & Bill Zito @ the Strand Theater, 8/23/14

Friday, September 12th, 2014

Louise Schulman and Bill Zito

Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

The first half of this New York City-based chamber duo’s recent performance at Schroon Lake’s Strand Theater was a mix of 18th century works by Christian Gottlieb Scheidler and Mauro Giuliani. But right in the middle of the repertoire during the first half of the concert was Peter Schickele’s “Windows,” composed in 1966. Of course, Schickele’s alter ego was the comedic P.D.Q. Bach, a fictitious younger relative of the great Johann S. Bach, part of that historical German classical-music triumvirate – Bach, Beethoven & Brahms – that still influences classical musicians today.

After a brief intermission, the second set kicked off with more Mauro Giuliani, followed by a contemporary nod to the late jazz and classical Argentinean legend, Astor Piazzolla. His composition, “Cafe 1930,” caused more than a few toes to tap the rhythm of the composition soulfully interpreted by violist Louise Schulman and guitarist Bill Zito.

Zito sat under the spotlights and tuned his acoustic classical guitar for two pieces of solo virtuosity. Schulman walked off the stage with her 16th century hand-crafted viola and joined the audience for a listen. The room took on a different atmosphere with two Spanish classical compositions by Enrique Granados and Isaac Albinez, both 19th century composers, that made Zito’s fingers fly up and down on the fretboard shaping a tonal spectrum that encompassed the dynamic extremes of sound from gentle subtlety to aggressive arpeggios.

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LIVE: Albany Riverfront Jazz Festival @ Corning Preserve Boat Launch, 9/6/14

Thursday, September 11th, 2014
Catherine Rusell, Mark McLean and Matt Munisteri (photo: Rudy Lu)

Catherine Rusell, Mark McLean and Matt Munisteri (photo: Rudy Lu)

Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Rudy Lu, Andrzej Pilarczyk

After the rainout of 2012, the people behind the Albany Riverfront Jazz Festival weren’t going to roll the dice again when a big green blob of weather was set to head Greater Nippertown’s way come festival day. And since Joshua Bell and the Albany Symphony Orchestra were playing at the Palace Theatre that night, the jazz fest moved to Alive at Five’s rain site – the parking lot of the Corning Preserve Boat Launch under the I-787 overpass. No way could you argue with the practicality of the move, but would people be willing to hang out under a highway for eight hours, even if the music was free?

The answer was a resounding “HELL, YES!” The Riverfront Jazz Fest is an established tradition now, and a little bit of rain (or, in this case, a little rain and a LOT of wind) wasn’t
going to keep people away. While the overall crowd was a little less than if the show had been at Jennings Landing, we saw the same flow-through of festival-goers that the Riverfront fest has seen in the past, and the usual group of hardcore supporters were sitting in their folding chairs when flamenco guitarist Maria Zemantauski took the stage and ran into the day’s only major issue: Acoustics. There’s no way to minimize the massive echo you get in that kind of space with normal sounds. Put those sounds through two stacks of amplifiers? Fuhgeddaboudit!

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LIVE: Chicago / REO Speedwagon @ SPAC, 8/19/14

Monday, September 8th, 2014
Chicago

Chicago

Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk, courtesy of The Glens Falls Chronicle

Veteran heartland rock machines REO Speedwagon and Chicago have both been pumping it out for years, rolling into town in one combination or another (with the Doobies Brothers, Styx, Earth, Wind & Fire, Ted Nugent, etc.) for co-headlining shows.

At the Saratoga Performing Arts Center recently each band took the stage and ran through as many of their hits that they could cram into their set. You know the songs.

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LIVE: Luke Bryan @ SPAC, 8/17/14

Thursday, August 21st, 2014
Luke Bryan

Luke Bryan

Remember the days not too long ago when the Saratoga Performing Arts Center simply couldn’t figure out how to sell tickets to country music concerts? Well, things have changed… and of course, so too has country music.

Luke Bryan, the reigning country music superstar, was back in the spotlight again last Sunday evening, after selling out approximately 25,000 tickets at SPAC last summer on his Dirt Road Diaries Tour 2013.

No surprise, the Luke-ster sold out SPAC once again with his That’s My Kind of Night Tour, featuring support acts Cole Swindell and Lee Brice.

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