April 15th, 2013, 4:00 pm by Greg
September 7th, 2012, 12:00 pm by Greg
Al Di Meola
Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Albert Brooks
A JazzApril story
There was only one real revelation to come from Al Di Meola and Gonzalo Rubalcaba’s duet show at The Egg: Until that night, Di Meola had never known why Greater Nippertown’s most recognizable concert venue was called “The Egg”! It’s not like Di Meola hadn’t played here before, but apparently the iconic guitarist had been asleep when the tour bus for World Sinfonia or Rite of Strings rolled up the North Arterial. Now that mystery had been cleared up, Di Meola and Rubalcaba got down to giving us exactly what we expected – sheer, unadulterated genius.
While this pair has never recorded as a unit, Rubalcaba guested on two Di Meola discs (2002’s Flesh on Flesh and 2011’s Pursuit of Radical Rhapsody), and Di Meola has been a fan of the Cuban keyboard wizard since he first heard Rubalcaba on a fusion date over 25 years ago. Maybe they haven’t logged a ton of playing time together, but you’d never know it by listening to their intricate interplay on the opener “Siberiana.” Rubalcaba worked a vamp as Di Meola’s fingers flew up the fret board at warp speed, finding a figure of their own to work as Rubalcaba seamlessly took the solo spot. If there were transitional points worked into the sheet music both players feverishly studied, those points were not discernable as the duo displayed an adamantine chemistry.
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Reviews by J Hunter
Welcome to the Greater Nippertown jazz scene’s version of the Bermuda Triangle: That amazon nine-day stretch that gives us the Port of Albany Riverfront Jazz Festival, Lake George Jazz Weekend and the start of another season for A Place For Jazz… which means, of course, that we need some music to talk about between sets:
Not all 80-plus guys mumble incoherently to empty chairs. Some, like 81-year old piano icon Ahmad Jamal, take that chair and smash it over the heads of any stereotypes that stand in their way. Jamal still paints beautiful, pastoral pictures on his original “I Remember Italy” and Johnny Mercer’s “Laura”, but he also hits his lines on the reboot of “Autumn Rain” with a haymaker punch that’ll rock you back, and his reboot of the title track to his latest release Blue Moon takes one of the Great American Songbook’s more treacly woe-is-me tunes and flips it soundly on its head. Jamal’s muscular, veteran back-up band gives no quarter, either: Reginald Veal prefaces Jamal’s pulsing attack on “Morning Mist” with an in-the-clear bass solo that will give your sub-woofers some extra work; drummer Herlin Riley’s backbeat on “This Is the Life” lets Jamal dance the way he wants to – floating lightly on some sections, stomping hard on others – while Manolo Badrena’s percussion adds driving, industrial urgency to Bronislau Kaper’s “Invitation” and the Dizzy classic “Woody’n You.” Some things may get meaner as they get older, but when it comes to Ahmad Jamal, they also get better – way better!
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