Posts Tagged ‘Rudy Lu’

LIVE: Nellie McKay @ the Van Dyck, 4/4/15 (Second Show)

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

20150404-nelliemckay-0505

Review and photographs by Rudy Lu

It is difficult to pigeonhole the music of Nellie McKay, who entertained – and I truly mean entertained – a close-to-sold-out audience in the second of her two shows at the Van Dyck in Schenectady on Saturday night.

Accompanied by bass player Alexi David and drummer Kenneth Salters, McKay mesmerized the audience with the most eclectic set of music I have yet to hear. Somehow, she weaved standards from the ’30s along with her originals and covers of songs from the ’60s British Invasion that perhaps us baby boomers consider standards. Her spirited delivery made it all make sense.

Her set list featured standards such as:

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LIVE: Nellie McKay @ the Van Dyck, 4/4/15 (First Show)

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

Nellie McKay

Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Rudy Lu

For the first of her two shows on a recent Saturday evening, Nellie McKay descended the stairs at the Van Dyck, sat down at the keyboard and launched into a sparkling instrumental jazz-trio version of the old standard “Pennies from Heaven,” which morphed into “On the Sunny Side of the Street.” And for a moment, it felt as though we were transported back in time to the days of the venerable old Schenectady jazz club when folks like Dave McKenna and Marian McPartland would frequently tickle the ivories.

But just for a moment…

Seamlessly, the medley of jazz standards shifted into McKay’s “Toto Dies,” and she sang, “Hey man what’s happenin’ with you?/I watched that episode too/Maybe I’ll get some Chinese/I’ll have the dumplings/No MSG please…” From there, all bets were off. Backed by drummer Kenneth Salters and the sometimes too-busy basswork of Alexi David, McKay roamed through an almost impossibly vast songbook that stretched from jazz greats Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald to the folk duo of Richard & Mimi Farina to the lightweight British Invasion pop band Herman’s Hermits.

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LIVE: The Levin Brothers @ the Van Dyck, 3/20/15

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015
The Levin Brothers

The Levin Brothers

Review and photographs by Rudy Lu

The Levin Brothers are no strangers if you are an avid reader of album liner notes and tour brochures. Both of them have been very active first-call studio and touring band musicians since the ’70s.

Although probably best known as the bassist and Chapman Stickman for prog rock pioneers King Crimson and Peter Gabriel, Tony Levin has a vast discography that includes recording with everyone from John Lennon to Karen Carpenter, from David Bowie to Tom Waits, from Alice Cooper to the Bulgarian Women’s Choir.

Older brother Peter Levin’s resume is just as deep and diverse, stretching from Judy Collins to Bryan Ferry, from Salt ‘N Pepa to Miles Davis, from Annie Lennox to Gov’t Mule. He joined his brother on tour with Paul Simon in the ’80s and was originally a French horn player with the Gil Evans Orchestra before switching to keyboards.

In support of their long-overdue debut collaborative album, they are now touring as the Levin Brothers in jazz-based project inspired by the music that inspired them during their youth to pursue careers in music – the cool jazz of Oscar Pettiford and Julius Watkins. And that’s what recently brought them up to the Van Dyck in Schenectady from their Woodstock area homes.

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LIVE: Bridge Jazz Festival @ the Massry Center, 2/28/15 (Day Two)

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015
Cecile McLorin Salvant

Cecile McLorin Salvant

Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Rudy Lu

To my mind, a really great jazz festival should give you a lot more than terminal heartburn and a farmer’s tan; it should give you the biggest picture possible of what this genre is all about. If the second night of the inaugural Bridge Jazz Festival is any indication, we may be seeing the first blooms of a really great jazz festival! While Night One at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall featured some of the best concert jazz around, Night Two at the College of Saint Rose’s Massry Center for the Arts would show that jazz could have a beautiful intimacy while maintaining (to steal from the late Leonard Nimoy’s signature character) infinite diversity in infinite combinations.

Gretchen Parlato and Alan Hampton have been developing their own sense of intimacy for a number of years now, with the vocalist and the multi-instrumentalist writing for – and singing on – each other’s projects. Recently, they decided to see what they could create when they didn’t have other musicians to make room for, either onstage or in the mix. As such, it was just Hampton with his various axes (including ukulele, which he played on his opening composition “Every Living Part”), Parlato with a few shakers, and a joint harmonic that was as gorgeous as it was unique that led us into this relatively early evening. Hampton’s vocal style won’t ever be confused with Kurt Elling; he’s more like Paul Simon with a little more steel. Between that and his seemingly infinite range, he’s a perfect vocal partner for Parlato, who almost always stays within her sultry alto.

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LIVE: Bridge Jazz Festival @ Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, 2/27/15

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015
Marcus Roberts

Marcus Roberts

Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Rudy Lu

“That’s the thing about jazz,” Marcus Roberts explained as he settled in on the piano bench in the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. “There’s room for everybody’s personality and perspective.” And certainly the opening night of the inaugural Bridge Jazz Festival proved that and more with a diverse array of music all nestled under the big umbrella of “jazz.” Three bands. Three unique approaches. All with a decidedly international spin.

Led by composer-keyboardist Elizabeth Woodbury Kasius, Heard – the Local 518 “world jazz ensemble” – kicked off the evening in fine fashion, melding jazz with influences that ranged from classical to African music. The percolating percussion duo of Zorkie Nelson and Ade Knowles with bassist Bobby Kendall laid the foundation, while Woodbury Kasius and clarinetist Jonathan Greene soared through a five-song, 35-minute set of buoyant, joyous melodies beginning with “Waltz for the Aviary” and the upbeat “Karibu.” While the set was primarily instrumental, they added the only vocals of the evening on “O Feche” and “Market Song,” singing in Ga, the native language of Ghana.

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LIVE: Joe Barna & Sketches of Influence @ Sanctuary for Independent Media, 2/24/15

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015
Joe Barna

Joe Barna

Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Rudy Lu

I am now thoroughly convinced that it’s not the cold, the snow, the ice or even the wind chill that kills you in winter – it’s the cabin fever! And just because you have digital cable, wi-fi and Facebook to play with does not make you immune. You NEED to go out, you NEED to interact with non-co-workers, and you NEED to see some form of human-based entertainment that wasn’t cooked up on a Hollywood set. Aside from checking off all the aforementioned boxes, Joe Barna’s homecoming show at the Sanctuary for Independent Media let us help him do the best kind of warming up: Warming up for his NYC debut!

The night after he brought the latest iteration of Sketches of Influence to north Troy, Barna was set to do his first gig as a leader at Somethin’ Jazz Club, the New York City version of a venerable Tokyo establishment. Somethin’ held its own jazz festival in January while the NYC Winter JazzFest was going on (Teri Roiger was one of the featured performers), so February 25 was a big, big date. In addition to being Sketches’ “dress rehearsal,” Barna had taken upon himself the task of raising $1,000 for Sanctuary, which was technically “in hibernation” when the crowd settled down and Barna led saxman Stacy Dillard, pianist Victor Gould, and bassist Ryan Berg onto the stage. By his own admission, Barna “came close” to his financial goal; as to getting dialed in for the big gig, he and his band hit that target right in the bullseye.

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LIVE: Roger Noyes @ Albany Public Library, 2/25/15

Monday, March 2nd, 2015
Roger Noyes

Roger Noyes

Review and photographs by Rudy Lu

At the Albany Public Library, Ralph Ellison’s classic 1952 novel “Invisible Man” was brought to life through readings of the novel and original music inspired by the novel by composer-guitarist Roger Noyes and his band.

The library’s program Reading Music showcases new, original music inspired by great works of literature. In previous installments, M.R. Poulopoulos tackled the works of William Kennedy and Michael Eck and Matt Durfee wrote songs in the spirit of John Steinbeck’s “East of Eden,” but this was the first Reading Music program to feature jazz and a full band.

In addition to playing the Fats Waller composition, “Black and Blue,” which is seminal to the novel, Noyes & Co. also played three original compositions inspired by passages in the novel.

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LIVE: Cyrille Aimee @ The Egg, 2/13/15

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015
Cyrille Aimee

Cyrille Aimee

Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Rudy Lu

I tend to stay away if an artist that’s played Greater Nippertown recently makes a return appearance, if only so one of my colleagues can get a crack at seeing what I’ve seen. I was more than happy to break that rule for Cyrille Aimee’s show at The Egg last weekend, and for two reasons: I wanted to experience the divine intimacy her music creates in a space like The Egg’s Swyer Theatre, and I wanted to see if the riveting performance the vivacious French vocalist served up last fall at Lake George’s Jazz at the Lake festival was a fluke. My results: The intimacy was huge (yes, I know that’s a contradiction), and of the many things Cyrille Aimee is, a fluke is not one of them.

Outside of NYC’s Smalls Jazz Club (where she recorded her fourth CD), the Swyer may be the perfect place to see Aimee, and that became profoundly evident before she’d finished the first verse of her opener “Little White Lies.” Flanked by guitarists Adrien Moignard and Michael Valeanu, Aimee served up the mildly apologetic lyric with a purring alto and a coquettish smile as the piece got just enough push by bassist Sam Anning and drummer Rajiv Jayaweera. The smile turned into a full-blown grin as Moignard’s fingers flew over the fretboard of his acoustic guitar, ginning up the Django Reinhardt vibe that runs through all of Aimee’s recordings. Aimee bop-danced in place as Valeanu’s restrained hollow-body electric sound provided perfect counterpoint for Moignard. Moignard would return that favor more than a few times during the two-set performance.

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