Posts Tagged ‘Rudy Lu’

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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LIVE: Jim Weider’s Blue Chicken @ the Falcon, 1/17/15

Thursday, January 29th, 2015
Jim Weider

Jim Weider

Review and photographs by Rudy Lu

Billed as a “Roots Rock Gumbo of All-Star Musicians Playing Their Out-of-the-Coop One-Stop Reunion Tour,” Blue Chicken showed what rock and roll is all about – just plain fun.

This band is one of many projects that former Band guitarist Jim Weider is involved in. Onstage at the Falcon in Marlboro, he shared the stage with journeyman guitarist Sid McGinnis (best known as the guitarist on “The Late Show With David Letterman.” They represented a true contrast in styles both in playing and stage presence. Weider preferring to just stand and play complex leads and slide work. He let his guitar speak for him. In contrast, McGinnis played snarling lines and power chords to his bandmates, also adding plenty of visual drama to the performance.

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LIVE: The Peter Bernstein Trio @ the Falcon, 1/9/15

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

The Peter Bernstein Trio with Brad Mehldau

Photographs by Rudy Lu

Ace guitarist Peter Bernstein and his all-star trio – featuring Doug Weiss on bass and Billy Drummond on drums – were joined by special guest virtuoso pianist Brad Mehldau earlier this month as they explored two sets of jazz standards, contemporary songs and originals before a packed audience at the Falcon in Marlboro.

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LIVE: Jaimeo Brown’s Transcendence @ Sanctuary for Independent Media, 12/6/14

Monday, December 15th, 2014
Transcendence

Jaimeo Brown’s Transcendence

Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Rudy Lu, Andrzej Pilarczyk

Environment is important, and the environment for Jaimeo Brown’s appearance at the Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy was certainly different from that blazing-hot June day at SPAC when his group Transcendence knocked everyone’s socks off at the Freihofer’s Saratoga Jazz Festival Gazebo stage. On the plus side, this show was inside the Sanctuary’s cozy confines, so there was no danger of losing any of the power these three tremendous young musicians are able to harness; on the minus, it was cold and wet and trying to snow, which usually tends to pick off the more weather-averse concert-goer. Whether it was the viral marketing that went with this show or just the memory of the wild ride Transcendence took us on that summer, the place was almost packed at showtime.

It was great to hear emcee/booker Susan Brink confirm my recollection about how entranced the crowd had been at the Gazebo. “The entire audience was as one,” she told us during her glowing introduction. After Brown, altoist Jaleel Shaw and guitarist-loopmaster Chris Sholar had come on stage, Brown split time between thanking us profusely for braving the weather and explaining about how this music “celebrates community,” and how at its root is the Gee’s Bend, Alabama community where the field recordings that inspired Brown were created. “This music is homegrown,” he added. “And you are part of our community now!”

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