Posts Tagged ‘Richard Brody’

LIVE: Hot Tuna @ The Egg, 12/7/14

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014
Jorma Kaukonen

Jorma Kaukonen

Review by Richard Brody
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

The shouts of “Jorma!” that came from the near-capacity crowd were an indication that there were few, if any, first time Hot Tuna fans in The Egg’s Hart Theatre. Accompanying Jorma Kaukonen and co-founding bass man Jack Casady was frequent Tuna member mandolinist Barry Mitterhoff, as well as a trio of the band’s Woodstock family – drummer Justin Guip, vocalist Teresa Williams and her husband/string master Larry Campbell on fiddle, pedal steel and guitar.

The band kicked off the show with one of their staples, Kaukonen’s “True Religion,” that was highlighted by Mitterhoff’s sweet mandolin solo and Campbell’s shimmering slide guitar that brought the song to its conclusion.

Hot Tuna has always been about the country blues that howl about the sins of Saturday night and the gospel-flavored songs that ask for forgiveness in church on Sunday morning. Casady strutted, pogoed and drove the band on Muddy Waters’ “I Can’t Be Satisfied.” His bass anchored and pushed both Kaukonen’s vocals and the guitar solos from Kaukonen and Campbell. As fine a guitarist as Kaukonen is, his voice would not fit in a church choir. Enter Williams, who brought the “amen” to Reverend Gary Davis’ “Children of Zion” that included great supporting solos from Mitterhoff’s mandolin, Kaukonen’s guitar and Campbell’s slide. They stayed in church for the next number, a roof-raising rendition of “Wade in the Water” that was once again led by Williams’ powerhouse vocals.

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LIVE: The Wood Brothers @ Club Helsinki, 8/15/14

Thursday, August 21st, 2014
The Wood Brothers

The Wood Brothers

Review and photographs by Richard Brody

The sold-out, standing-room-only Club Helsinki crowd came expecting a great show. The Wood Brothers did not disappoint. They opened with “Sing About It” from their current album The Muse. The strolling bass line laid down by Chris Wood that began the song was quickly followed by the light touch of Oliver Wood’s acoustic guitar, and then Jano Rix’s melodica, and when the last instrumental note vanished into the night, the first vocal line was sung a cappella: “If you get too worried, what you ought to do is sing,” the second half of which was sung in three part gospel-like harmony. We were barely a minute into the show, and the band had displayed their ability to seamlessly integrate several musical styles that captured their essence.

Good songwriters need inspiration and the title track of The Muse is an homage to Oliver’s wife, who provides the space and support for the tunes to get created. But it was the birth of his child that helped him complete the song with the lines:

“And if I was thinkin’ I’d be thinkin’ thank God whoever you are
For the muse and the miracle right here in my arms.”

Yet the music was not all nice and tender. The band turned up the heat on a number of songs, most notably “Honey Jar,” a funk-influenced tune that began with some dizzyingly fast bass and drums that carried the song until it slid into a slower tempo blues bridge that transitioned back into the fast stuff and remained there until its crescendo finish. And then there was arguably the crowd’s favorite “Who the Devil” that began slowly with Chris’ bowed bass leading and building to a rocking instrumental break that provided numerous improvisational sparks led by Oliver’s electric guitar that was overtaken by Rix’s percussion and Chris’ thumping bass, and then slowly brought back to the song’s opening tempo by Chris’ bowed bass.

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LIVE: The Ghost Train Orchestra @ the Music Haven, 8/10/14

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014
(photo by Stanley Johnson)

Ghost Train Orchestra’s Brian Carpenter (photo by Stanley Johnson)

Photographs by Stanley Johnson, Andrzej Pilarczyk, Richard Brody

The motto of the Music Haven Concert Series in Schenectady’s Central Park has always been “Join us in traveling the world one concert at a time.” And the 2014 series did indeed travel from Africa to Ireland to Cuba to Chicago to Louisiana. But in wrapping up their 25th anniversary season with the Ghost Train Orchestra, the series took a slightly different tact, traveling not around the globe, but rather back in time.

The brainchild of Brian Carpenter – composer, arranger, trumpeter, vocalist – the GTO draws from the deep well of jazz by such early 20th century bandleaders as Fletcher Henderson, Don Redman, Tiny Parham, Fess Williams, Charlie Johnson and others.

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LIVE: The James Cotton Band @ Music Haven at Proctors, 7/27/14

Thursday, July 31st, 2014
Ted Henessey and Matt Mirabile (photo by Andrzej Pilarczyk)

Tom Holland and James Cotton (photo by Andrzej Pilarczyk)

Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Stanley Johnson, Andrzej Pilarczyk, Rudy Lu, Richard Brody

For a quarter of a century now, the Music Haven has presented what is unquestionably the Capital Region’s most ambitious and culturally diverse free annual summer concert series. The concerts don’t always attract the big, Alive at Five-sized crowds, but the series always attracts great musicians from all over the globe, and it consistently lives up to the motto of its mission – “Come travel the world with us, one concert at a time.”

Due to the threat of inclement weather last Sunday, the Music Haven’s concert featuring legendary blues harmonica master James Cotton was moved to the rain site – Proctors – and when the show is moved to a beautiful site like Proctors nothing is lost in the venue shift. Not even the audience, apparently, as nearly 1,400 people packed the downstairs of Proctors’ Main Stage theater for what proved to be a very special celebration. Not only was it the biggest Capital Region blues event of the summer, but it was also the Music Haven’s 25th anniversary gala party, and the bash was well attended by a plethora of local political dignitaries, as well as staunch music supporters.

In a brief, pre-concert ceremony on the Main Stage, former Schenectady mayor Karen Johnson was honored for her support of the Music Haven throughout the years, and in a surprise proclamation, Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy honored Music Haven’s founder, visionary and producing artistic director Mona Golub with the Patroon Award, the city’s highest honor. “It’s been a labor of love for me, bringing such a diverse, cross-generational audience together,” said an audibly choked-up Golub, as she accepted the award.

The concert also served a heartfelt memorial to Albany bluesman Tom Healey, whose death the previous Monday shook the Local 518 blues community. Guitarslinger Matt Mirabile and his band, fronted by vocalist-harmonicat Ted Hennessy, tore through a seven-song opening set that ranged from such blues classics as Muddy Waters’ “I Just Want to Make Love to You” and Sonny Boy Williamson’s “So Sad to Be Lonesome” to a funky, cowbell-fueled rendition of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son,” and they dedicated their performance to Healey. The Music Haven folks also joined in the tribute, playing selections from the Tom Healey Band’s two albums – Pearl Street and Tough Dog – during the between-band intermission.

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LIVE: Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival @ SPAC, 6/29/14 (Day Two)

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014
The Eddy Palmieri Orchestra (photo by Rudy Lu)

The Eddie Palmieri Orchestra (photo by Rudy Lu)

Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Rudy Lu
Additional photographs by Richard Brody, Cheri Bordelon, Andrzej Pilarczyk, J Hunter

“We’d like to close our set…” altoist/alt-jazz music mogul Tim Berne began his intro to “Static,” earning a hearty laugh from the Gazebo Stage crowd. True, Berne and his whip-smart quartet Snakeoil – Dave Douglas Quintet pianist Matt Mitchell, reedman Oscar Noriega and (making his second appearance at the Gazebo that weekend) percussionist Ches Smith – had just turned our heads around several times with 15 minutes of free-form madness to kick off Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival’s Sunday bill at SPAC, but there was no way these guys were going to play one tune for 45 minutes… right?

Well… sort-of right: “Static” turned out to be a careening multi-chapter suite that had the ensemble alternating off-its-head rubato with wildly complex melodies and figures – some pounding, some silky soft – that only seemed to lift the soloists to dizzier and dizzier heights. Noriega’s bass clarinet repeatedly traveled the distance between sub-sonic and shrieking, sometimes taking over the foundation so Mitchell could have room to express himself. If Smith played a straight beat, then I missed it, because when the deranged-looking stick figure wasn’t soloing, he was on the fill whether he was on drums or vibes. (Surprisingly, Smith’s vibes work was extremely tender in places.) Jaimeo Brown’s Transcendence may have spun the Gazebo like a roulette wheel to close the Saturday bill, but Berne’s off-world excursions made Brown’s explorations seem simple in comparison.

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LIVE: Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Fest @ SPAC, 6/28/14 (Day One)

Monday, July 14th, 2014
Ronnie Earl (photo by Andrzej Pilarczyk)

Ronnie Earl (photo by Andrzej Pilarczyk)

Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
Additional photographs by Richard Brody and J Hunter

You had to feel for Lew Tabackin. Second on the bill at Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival’s Gazebo stage, the veteran multi-instrumentalist arrived just in time to watch the Marc Cary Focus Trio laying waste to the place with “Taiwa,” drummer Sameer Gupta’s extraordinary East/West mash-up that recalls fusion giants Return To Forever – only with a wicked groove RTF never, ever achieved. Tabackin was expressionless as he watched, but his thoughts had to run along the lines of “I’ve gotta follow this? Really?” (Tabackin later met the fate of artists who substitute effort for ideas.)

“The music is radiating us,” Cary enthused after the piece. “It’s inspired us!” And it had to: Cary and his partners got to the Saratoga Performing Arts Center via an overnight train ride from Washington DC, only arriving in Greater Nippertown that morning. But Cary was celebrating 20 years as a leader, and his band was down with the program and each other. The first 10 minutes of the Focus Trio’s mind-blowing set was completely off the cuff, as Cary built beautifully byzantine structures with Gupta and bassist Rashaan Carter. They switched from bottomless rubato to the Jackie McLean’s hard-bopping “Appointment in Ghana” without taking a breath, and “CD Changer” tossed pieces from 10 of Cary’s early compositions and sent them right at our heads. Cary had the crowd so riveted, they applauded him whenever he switched from acoustic piano to Fender Rhodes – kind of like if the gallery at a golf tournament applauded Tiger Woods whenever he switched from a 5-iron to a sand wedge.

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LIVE: James McMurtry / the Bottle Rockets @ The Egg, 6/5/14

Thursday, June 12th, 2014
James McMurtry

James McMurtry

Review by Richard Brody
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk

James McMurtry is a storyteller. Not surprising, considering his father is a book collector and a Pulitzer Prize winning novelist. However it was not the books that interested young James, but his father’s stories at the dinner table and family gatherings. That is where he got his first sense of narrative, and the wry stories that comprise his best songs followed.

McMurtry is not just a writer; his guitar playing gives a sense of time and place that supports each song’s lyrical content. In concert at The Egg’s Swyer Theatre last week, that was evident from the first song of the evening, “Bayou Tortue;” the swamp guitar underscoring the protagonist’s roving eye and a late night that left him coming home to his wife without a “decent lie.”

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LIVE: Living Colour @ Empire State Plaza, 6/4/14

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014
Corey Glover (photo by Rudy Lu)

Living Colour’s Corey Glover (photo by Rudy Lu)

Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Rudy Lu
Additional photographs by Richard Brody, Stanley Johnston

When the Governor Nelson Rockefeller regime built the Empire State Plaza back in the ’60s, it displaced and destroyed a huge and vital chunk of the City of Albany’s neighborhoods. So it was with no small sense of irony that Living Colour ripped into “Open Letter (To a Landlord)” on Wednesday night from the stage on the very same plaza.

“Now you can tear a building down
But you can’t erase a memory
These houses may look all run down
But they have a value you can’t see…”

Whether the band had any idea about the concert site’s history or not is moot. The song was virtually written to be played on that stage, and the added weight of the ESP’s history imbued the ferocious anti-gentrification anthem with a weight that it probably doesn’t carry at most Living Colour concerts.

Then again, maybe they did know exactly what they were singing about – and where they were singing it. Vocalist Corey Glover kicked off their show by declaring, “We finally made it to the Capital, and we’re ready to burn it down.”

And, burn, baby, burn, they did. At least musically speaking.

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