LIVE: John Medeski @ College of St. Rose’s Massry Center, 12/7/13

December 17th, 2013, 4:00 pm by Greg

Review by J Hunter

The guy was sitting about a third of the way up the center section of seats in College of St. Rose’s Massry Center, meticulously setting up two small microphones on a tri-pod. Photographs may have been prohibited for John Medeski’s solo-piano show, but apparently digital recording was cool. No big whoop, really, since audience recording is as prevalent at Medeski Martin & Wood concerts as it was at Grateful Dead shows back in the day. But, as this young man was going to find out with the rest of us, this would not be an MMW show – not by a long shot.

Mind you, Medeski looked the same, coming out onstage in faded black jeans and wearing a rumpled grey jacket over his signature untucked Hawaiian shirt. (I’m thinking he wore the jacket because hey, this is kinda-sorta a piano recital, in a concert hall designed for such, so you have to be a little more formal.) Medeski also carried an armful of supplies with him: An extra-large bottle of water, a case just big enough for his Melodica and a small black satchel that could have carried sheet music. Medeski only touched the water during his 90-minutes-plus show, but I’m guessing he was being a good camper and preparing for every eventuality.

He definitely needed the water after his opening “number,” which started with the first notes of the title track from A Different Time (the solo-piano recording he released earlier this year) and ended with a brilliant reading of the MMW classic “Where’s Sly?” In between those two pieces, there was an unbroken 67-minute ride that went from bare-bones classical music to bawdy boogie-woogie, with hefty side orders of dark avant-garde thunder that must have made the brain inside the digital recorder think, “What the fuck are you DOING to me?” Another MMW piece – “Otis,” which closes A Different Time – was “somewhere in there,” as an out-of-breath Medeski told us after it was all over, but there were also old folk songs and Great American Songbook titles that either flew by so fast that you barely saw them, or were so transformed that they were barely recognizable.

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Win FREE TICKETS to “It’s a Jazzy Christmas” at St. Rose’s Massry Center on Sunday!

November 28th, 2012, 11:00 am by Greg

The Peanut Gallery Jazz Band is back again!

One of the surprise hits of last year’s Nippertown’s holiday season, the Local 518 all-star jazz trio – featuring pianist and host David Gleason, bassist Mike Lawrence and drummer Pete Sweeney – returns to the College of Saint Rose’s Massry Center in Albany on Sunday (December 2) for two shows.

The core of the unforgettable, family-friendly afternoon is the marvelous music of Vince Guaraldi – made famous in those “Peanuts” holiday specials – but you’ll also experience a stage full of Christmas decorations, an audience sing-a-long and a healthy dose of humor. And let’s not forget the milk-and-cookies reception for the kids, too.

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Win FREE TIX to Ben Allison Band at St. Rose’s Massry Center on Thursday!

November 12th, 2012, 12:00 pm by Greg

The eclectic, ever-inventive jazz composer-bassist Ben Allison has been popping up all over Nippertown in recent months:

1). Playing with Steve Bernstein’s Millenial Territory Orchestra at the Lake George Jazz Weekend in a electrifying tribute to Sly & the Family Stone
2). Leading a children’s music education session with Nippertown saxman Brian Patneaude at the College of Saint Rose
3). Launching his Jim Hall Project with the trio’s debut performance at the Athens Cultural Center

On Thursday night (November 15), Allison returns to the College of Saint Rose’s Massry Center in Albany for a concert with his Ben Allison Band, also featuring guitarist Steve Cardenas, guitarist-banjo player Brandon Seabrook and drummer Rudy Royston.

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LIVE: Maceo Parker @ the College of St. Rose’s Massry Center, 9/23/11

September 28th, 2011, 3:00 pm by Greg
Maceo Parker

Maceo Parker

Maceo Parker’s appearance at Massry Center started 15 minutes late. I’d ascribed that to a serious amount of walk-up action at the box office, and that did happen. The real reason, though, was trumpeter Lee Hogans and backup vocalist/Maceo’s son Corey Parker were driving to the gig from Philadelphia, where their flight had been diverted due to bad weather. But even though Maceo was playing short-handed, that wasn’t going to stop the former James Brown sideman from funking up the Massry Center.

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The New Concert Season at St. Rose’s Massry Center

August 3rd, 2011, 10:30 am by Greg
Maceo Parker

Maceo Parker

The upcoming season of Premiere Performance concerts has been announced for the College of St. Rose’s Massry Center in Albany. And there are some great shows on tap, to be sure. In addition to a big batch of classical performances, you’ll find some mighty fine, jazz, junk and pop shows on the calendar as well.

Go here to order tix.

Here’s what the Massry Center’s 2011-2012 concert calendar looks like:

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LIVE: The Jeff Coffin Mu’tet @ the Massry Center, 3/20/11

March 31st, 2011, 3:30 pm by Greg
Jeff Coffin

Jeff Coffin

Jeff Coffin’s Mu’tet isn’t your average jazz quintet. In fact, for those who have a fixed idea of what “jazz” is, Coffin and his bandmates don’t really play jazz in any traditional sense. What they play is certainly in the lineage of jazz music’s history, but it’s not derived from the ’50s bop of Charlie Parker or the ’60’s experimentation of John Coltrane.

The music that saxman Coffin and his Mu’tet offered up in their recent Nippertown debut owed a little to ’70s-era Miles Davis and a lot to the ’80s funked up and rocking jazz of the Brecker Brothers’ “Heavy Metal Be Bop” – sans the screaming electric guitars. And considering Coffin’s stint with Bela Fleck’s Flecktones, it’s no surprise that there was also a healthy dose of the Grateful Dead’s ventures into space-rock, ala “Infrared Roses” with saxophonist Branford Marsalis on board.

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Cool Factor 10: Joe Barna

March 15th, 2011, 1:00 pm by Sara

Joe Barna

If there’s one thing everyone can agree on about Joe Barna, it’s that he’s driven. It’s all in the eyes, especially when he’s behind a drum kit backing up his band Sketches of Influence. I’ve described Barna as a combination of Tony Williams and Animal from “The Muppet Show,” mainly because when Barna’s eyes get Animal-big, you know something highly explosive is about to happen.

That said, how does a drummer whose unofficial motto used to be “This kit goes to 11” put together a disc like “Blowin’ it Out” – with no drum solos?

“Confidence and maturity,” he told me as we sat in the café at Borders in Clifton Park. “I don’t need people to stare at me any more. I don’t have to take my anger out on my musicians any more. The drums are there to create texture and feel. They’re not there to be heard unless someone’s playing something. I wrote it all, what more can I do? I’m a composer, not a drummer.”

It’s kind of a shocking statement coming from someone as closely-associated with a single instrument as Barna is. And the seriousness in his statements definitely belies his past image as someone who was as much about clowning on stage as he was about playing the gig.

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CD: The Pete Malinverni Trio’s “A Beautiful Thing!”

March 9th, 2011, 1:05 pm by Greg

Pete Malinverni Trio: A Beautiful Thing

(Saranac Records, 2010):

Pianist Pete Malinverni lets it fly with this trio recording and he does indeed come up with a beautiful thing. Backed by bassist Lee Hudson and drummer Eliot Zigmund, Malinverni dances on the keyboard with both confidence and a willingness to go out on a limb.

The repertoire on the 10-song album achieves a delicate balance of standards (“La Vie en Rose” and Harold Arlen’s “My Shining Hour,” which closes out the disc in fine, rumbling style, the only solo piece on the album) and more contemporary pop (Billy Joel’s ballad “And So It Goes,” as well as the gorgeous Bert Bacharach/Hal David gem, “A House Is Not a Home,” which is a particular standout).

But it’s Malinverni’s sublime original compositions that sparkle the brightest. He had previously recorded “In the Garden of the Eternal Optimist” on his 2006 solo album, “Theme and Variations” on the Reservoir label, but here it takes on a new life with the spirited, empathetic bounce of the rhythm section. Another standout track is the majestic, but moody “Evocative,” a minor key variation on Haydn.

Pete Malinverni teams up with saxophonist Steve Wilson and the Leipzig String Quartet for a performance of Haydn’s “The Seven Last Words of Christ” – including, presumably, “Evocative” – at the College of Saint Rose’s Massry Center in Albany at 7:30pm tonight. Tix are $20.

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