Posts Tagged ‘J Hunter’

JAZZ2K: Nels Cline & Julian Lage’s “Room”

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014
Julian Lage and Nels Cline (photo: Justin Camerer)

Julian Lage and Nels Cline (photo: Justin Camerer)

NELS CLINE & JULIAN LAGE
Room (Mack Avenue)
Realse date: Tuesday, November 25

In a 2013 interview, Nels Cline described his collaboration with Julian Lage as “200 percent power.” A cursory listen to the soon-to-be-released Room might make one wonder if there are sound files on a laptop somewhere with the Wilco uber-guitarist and the prodigy-made-amazing creating mutual screaming feedback that only the hearing-damaged could love. But once you get tuned into the subtlety and harmony throughout this mesmerizing duo date from these two guitar wizards, you realize that Room is one of the more intense projects of 2014. And the guitar duo is slated to preview the new album in concert at The Egg in Albany at 7:30pm on Thursday night (November 20).

The album’s opening track “Abstract” seems pretty straightforward. Lage lays down a simple riff that Cline works off of with remarkable restraint. A quick bit of formation flying, and the exercise is repeated… except this time, it goes from an established relationship to dueling monologues in nothing flat. The relative cacophony threatens to send the piece careening off the road and into the ditch, but Lage and Cline back together on the nominal melody line relatively quickly – only there’s an obvious edge to both players that sounds like people speaking quietly through very clenched teeth. The piece resolves as if both of them would like to leave this subject behind, but the intrigue has been hatched: If this isn’t a wail-fest, then what is this?

(more…)

Advertisement

A FEW MINUTES WITH… Ben Goldberg of Dialogue

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

Interview and story by J Hunter

I was at a professional seminar the other day when I saw a PowerPoint slide that had me stunned for a moment: “There is no such thing as Multi-Tasking.” Okay, if we postulate that a human being isn’t an air-breathing octopus with eight arms that can build a better mousetrap AND write the Great American Novel while it’s making a hearty breakfast for its human/octopi-hybrid family, I guess that is technically true. But the human mind is a marvelous little machine with a ton of neurons firing every single second, and not all of them are focused on what you’re posting on Facebook or your teeth-gritting effort to not spill your coffee while walking over to your cubicle. In other words, there’s a lot going on underneath while you’re doing your best to get through your day.

Take, for example, clarinetist-composer Ben Goldberg, who’s become a musical icon in the Bay Area over the last couple of decades. To say Goldberg has multiple interests is like saying Lewis Hamilton likes to drive fast. I got turned on to Goldberg in 2009 through a semi-super group jazz disc called Go Home, which Goldberg used to launch his record label BAG Productions. But if you look over the various projects littered throughout his discography (the alt-folk outfits Tin Hat and Junk Genius, the New Klezmer Trio, Clarinet Thing, and two utterly opposite recordings he released simultaneously in 2013), and you get the impression Goldberg is playing 12-dimensional chess while the rest of us are playing checkers – badly!

Now, it is possible to play 12-dimensional chess by yourself… I imagine. But most games are more fun if you’ve got someone to play with. When it comes to that, Goldberg’s favorite partner for one-on-one games is next-level pianist Myra Melford. Both players have recorded duets with other artists (Melford most recently with Australian pianist Alister Spence), and both artists have truly unique projects on their respective resumes: Melford’s includes Alison Miller’s Boom Tic Boom, the bands Snowy Egret and Trio M, and her own Be Bread Ensemble, which Goldberg joined in 2010.

But to listen to Goldberg and Melford play together – as they do on their latest collaboration Dialogue – is to listen to a kind of synchronicity that shouldn’t be possible for people who haven’t experienced the Vulcan Mind Meld. It’s akin to watching two people work together on building a stained-glass window, never talking to each other once, and the thing comes out dead-solid perfect. To hear that (and to see it on the concert video shot of Myra and Ben in 2013) is to hear two creative soul mates flying in intricate formation, performing acrobatic feats that the Blue Angels wouldn’t even consider attempting.

We get to see Melford and Goldberg perform the aforementioned musical magic at 7pm this Sunday (November 16) at the Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy. Ben was good enough to take a few minutes and talk about this project (among other things):

(more…)

LIVE: The Arch Stanton Quartet @ the Parish Public House, 10/25/14

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014
James Ketterer, Chris Macchia, Roger Noyes and Steve Partyka

James Ketterer, Chris Macchia, Roger Noyes and Steve Partyka

Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Rudy Lu

I was sitting at the bar of the Parish Public House, sipping a club soda and waiting for the Arch Stanton Quartet to come on, when I said to myself, “This is a weird place for a drop party!” I mean, sure, jazz acts have played the Public House – and its previous incarnation, Red Square – before, and the club’s recent NOLA-flavored reboot makes it more conducive to the genre. But it’s fair to say that this congenial downtown space is not on “the circuit” of places Greater Nippertown jazz fans frequent on a regular basis.

And that’s when it hit me that the Parish Public House was the perfect site for a drop party… for the Arch Stanton Quartet. Of the many things I like about the ASQ, their willingness (indeed, their determination) to play outside the box is right up front. Put simply, nobody else in the region sounds like this group, and they’ve worked at that with the dedication of a pack of Corgi puppies chasing a bouncing ball down a narrow hallway. Therefore, why should they give even a smidge of that vibe up in exchange for what might be considered “cred” by people who won’t make the trek outside their comfort zone?

(more…)

LIVE: The John Menegon Quartet @ A Place for Jazz, 10/24/14

Monday, November 3rd, 2014
John Menegon

John Menegon

Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Rudy Lu

It must be my month for revisiting musical trips to the Berkshires. While introducing his quartet to the swelling crowd at A Place For Jazz, bassist John Menegon told us that he and two of his bandmates – pianist Frank Kimbrough and drummer Matt Wilson – had all worked for the legendary sax player Dewey Redman; it had been my extreme pleasure to watch those same three musicians back a blazing-hot Joe Lovano tribute to Redman at the 2008 Williamstown Jazz Festival. And Redman was a part of this night of divine music, too, if only because he was one of a number of icons who inspired the compositions on Menegon’s 2013 release I Remember You.

Family was inspiring this night, as well. Menegon led off the evening with a hushed, in-the-clear opening to “Devonian Light,” a piece dedicated to Menegon’s son Devon. The sound coming from Menegon’s double bass was so rich, even when played as softly as Menegon was doing. As the rest of the group slid in behind their leader, we found ourselves spinning through dreamy acoustic rubato that was perfect for the Whisperdome’s legendary acoustics. Tineke Postma’s soprano sax was right on the money, playing with the melody as Menegon laid down a deep counter while Kimbrough and Wilson swirled around the perimeter. Wilson was only on brushes, but he was still the bespectacled beast we’ve come to know and revere, while Kimbrough’s Bill Evans-level sense of touch added brilliant colors to Menegon’s towering tapestry.

(more…)

LIVE: Empire Jazz Orchestra with Claire Daly, Sharel Cassity & Ada Rovatti @ Colonial Theatre, 10/18/14

Monday, October 27th, 2014
The Empire Jazz Orchestra with leader Bill Meckley

The Empire Jazz Orchestra with leader Bill Meckley

Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Rudy Lu

When I heard that the Pittsfield CityJazz Festival was celebrating its 10th anniversary, I suddenly remembered that I had covered the anchor concert for the inaugural Pittsfield CityJazz Festival in 2005. Dr. Billy Taylor was the headliner, and it will be a deathbed memory that I got to shake the iconic pianist/educator’s hand backstage and tell him, “Thank you for… well, for everything!” Fast-forward to today, where PCJazz has developed a very nice niche for itself: Bringing headlining acts to the area, while showcasing the musical and educational spirit of the community.

Let’s talk about that last bit first. A Wall Street Journal Online article recently discussed statistical evidence that music education can have a direct impact on scholastic achievement. If that’s the case, the Berkshires are going to turn out some smart, smart kids. The opening act(s) at the Colonial Theatre were billed under the umbrella name “Berkshires Jazz Youth Ensemble,” but in fact, they were two distinct groups: The Herberg Middle School Band (which is a feeder group for the Pittsfield H.S. band), and the Rock On Workshop Jazz Ensemble. Both groups performed admirably: Highlights included Herberg’s straight-down-Broadway take on Booker T. & the MGs’ “Green Onions,” and Rock On’s righteous work-up of Freddie Hubbard’s “Red Clay.” Guitarist Ethan Wesley’s amp failed him during Herberg’s two-song set, but his technical issues were resolved so he could tear it up during Rock On’s appearance, capping Ella Sears’ bluesy treatment of George Gershwin’s “Summertime” with the opening lick to “Stairway to Heaven.”

(more…)

A Few More Minutes With… Roger Noyes of the Arch Stanton Quartet

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014
Roger Noyes

Roger Noyes

CD Review and interview by J Hunter
Photograph by Rudy Lu

THE ARCH STANTON QUARTET
Blues for Soli
(WEPA Records)

In hindsight, I may have done the Arch Stanton Quartet a disservice by referring to their stripped-out underground sound as “garage-band jazz.” All us grey-haired rockers can wax poetic about garage bands like the Music Explosion, the Count Five and – my favorite – the Standells serving up two minutes-and-change of nasty, uncultured excellence… but the Electric Prunes and the Count Five never had a chance to experience sophomore slump because they dropped out after the first semester! Well, the Arch Stanton Quartet is back with Blues For Soli, and there are two bits of good news: First, no sophomore slump here; and second, Greater Nippertown’s musical ambassadors are STILL as nasty as they want to be!

It was their short-but-intense tour of Egypt in 2013 that helped birth the disc’s first four tracks (also known as the “Lady Egypt Suite”), and there’s a definite intensity to the opening track “Kofta.” The introduction has this swirling, almost drunken quality to it that makes you wonder, “How bad will this trip be?” Then drummer Steven Partyka hits this sweet groove straight out of Freddie Hubbard’s “Red Clay,” and the ASQ is serving up the funk their way; that involves mixing whip-tight guitar from Roger Noyes with open, almost snarling trumpet from Terry Gordon (who is SO on his game throughout this date), while bassist Chris Macchia bows a counter that evokes Frankenstein skanking down the street while sipping from a bottle of schnapps.

(more…)

LIVE: TriBeCaStan @ The Linda, 10/11/14

Monday, October 20th, 2014

9

Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

If you want to set off one of my more epic rants, come at me with that old saw about “Smallbany” (“Oh, there’s NOTHING happening here…”), and then step back a few feet so you can watch me turn into the Tasmanian Devil without getting caught in the shock wave. It doesn’t take a lot of looking around to see the wealth of cultural goodness that’s coming to this area on a regular basis; I just wish more people had looked long enough to see TriBeCaStan was playing The Linda, because this eye-crossing music needs to be experienced.

“It’s great to be in Albania!” TriBeCaStan leader/multi-instrumentalist John Kruth enthused in a Borat-quality accent. Then he added drily, “We thought there might be more people in Albania…” The crowd may have been small, but their fervor for what this mammoth group dished out started big and grew exponentially. And I do mean mammoth, both in size and sound: A septet can put a pretty decent strain on The Linda’s limited stage space, and there were so many instruments and amplifiers stuffed onto that space, emcee Michael Eck had to play his opening solo-acoustic set on the floor in front of the stage. Mind you, most of those instruments were only played by two people – Kruth and his partner-in-madness Jeff Greene – but trust me, they all played a part in what I believe is a completely new genre: BIZARRO World Music!

(more…)

A Few Minutes With… Ben Perowsky

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014
Ben Perowsky

Ben Perowsky, drummer of RedCred and Woodstock Jazz Festival curator

Interview and story by J Hunter

“Woodstock Jazz Festival.” I look at those words and I think, “That seems right.” But they do bring one question to mind: Why have we not seen those words together before? I mean, think about it: We’re talking about an area where musicians off all stripes and genres have used as a haven for almost five decades. All the musicians that will be appearing at the festival’s maiden date – Saturday (October 4) at the Bearsville Theater – have been involved with that scene in one way or another, and Bearsville is just one of multiple possibilities for venues where next-level music can happen. So with all these resources to hand, the question beckons again: Why hasn’t this happened until now?

In cases like this, it usually takes one person to have an idea, decide it wasn’t crazy, and follow it to its logical conclusion. In this case, that one person was drummer Ben Perowsky, who’s been part of the Woodstock scene for more than 30 years. Perowsky’s got a résumé plenty of musicians would kill for: His past employers include James Moody, John Zorn, Lou Reed, Walter Becker and one member of the headliners at Saturday night’s show – the inimitable guitarist John Scofield, who’ll be teaming up with current and future legends Jack DeJohnette, John Medeski and Larry Grenadier to put a capper on what might be the first of many nights in the history of the newest jazz festival on the market. Perowsky and Medeski will also team up with reedman Chris Speed to show off the “new” jazz trio RedCred; and genre-busting pianist Uri Caine will open the show with a solo-piano set where anything just might happen… and probably will.

(more…)

Cartoonist John CaldwellHolly & EvanCaffe LenaAdvertise on Nippertown!The LindaKeep Albany BoringHudson SoundsAlbany PoetsArtist Charles HaymesBerkshire On StageLeave Regular Radio BehindThe Law Office of Paul Rapp