Posts Tagged ‘Rudy Lu’

LIVE: Michael Benedict & Bopitude @ the Bridge Street Theatre, 11/22/14

Thursday, December 4th, 2014
Michael Benedict

Michael Benedict

Review and photographs by Rudy Lu

Michael Benedict’s Bopitude – whose mission is to expose the public to the hard bop style of jazz that dominated the late ’50s and early ’60s – expanded their audience and reach with their debut at the new Bridge Street Theatre in Catskill, a former factory that is still under renovation. The concert was held in the Speakeasy, which will eventually become the lobby of the main performance space when renovations are completed.

It proved to be an intimate space that was absolutely appropriate for the music. The full house was treated to a rousing performance of the music of the underrated trumpeter Kenny Dorham, well-known and respected as a sideman of Max Roach, Art Blakey, Sonny Rollins and Thelonious Monk, in addition to leading his own bands. Perhaps he was known best for his partnership with the late saxophonist Joe Henderson.

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LIVE: Dialogue @ Sanctuary for Independent Media, 11/16/14

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014
(photo by Rudy Lu)

(photo by Rudy Lu)

Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Rudy Lu, Bender Melon

Okay, first, let’s posit that duet concerts are not like other concerts. You’ve got two people doing the work of four or five, in addition to getting their music across to the crowd. That it takes accomplished players to make it work goes without saying, but it goes farther than that: There needs to be a shared language, an understanding that tells one another who’s got the lead, who’s got the foundation, when things start and when things finish, and whose solo is it, anyway? It sounds complicated, but I’ve seen a bunch of duet shows, and the arrangement is pretty standard usually.

Pianist Myra Melford and clarinetist Ben Goldberg of Dialogue are decidedly not “usual.” You’re dealing with two accomplished musicians who think 10 steps ahead of most folks at any one time, and whose respective discographies include enough square pegs to make every round hole wave the white flag. The Box doesn’t even enter into the equation, let alone thinking outside of it. What happens when Melford and Goldberg get together is mercurial, to say the least, and the near-full house at the Sanctuary for Independent Media saw that in no uncertain terms. But again, it was more than just two extraordinary players having a musical conversation; it was two people conversing in a completely unique language that was incredibly beautiful, utterly impenetrable, and wholly beyond the “standard” set by many others.

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LIVE: Upstate @ the Falcon, 11/24/14

Monday, December 1st, 2014
Rebecca Martin and Paul Grenadier

Rebecca Martin and Larry Grenadier

Review and photographs by Rudy Lu

Upstate – a new trio composed of a singer-songwriter and two veteran jazz musicians – is in the middle of a month-and-a-half-long Monday night residency at the Falcon in Marlboro.

The band features Argentinean composer-pianist Guillermo Klein, singer-songwriter Rebecca Martin and virtuoso bassist Larry Grenadier, backed by journeyman drummer Lee Falco. Joining them last week as special guest was Portuguese vocalist Sara Serpa.

As would be expected, the resulting music defied easy categorization. The sometimes dissonant and unusual harmonies brought to mind such words as atmospheric, ethereal, spiritual, airy, other-worldly and timeless.

Included in the evening’s set list were compositions by Brad Mehldau and Kurt Rosenwinkel, as well as originals by the bandmembers.

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LIVE: Bria Skonberg Quintet @ A Place For Jazz, 11/7/14

Monday, November 17th, 2014
Bria Skonberg (photo by Rudy Lu)

Bria Skonberg (photo by Rudy Lu)

Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Rudy Lu, Andrzej Pilarczyk

Trumpeter Bria Skonberg lives “Hot Jazz,” a euphemism for jazz created and inspired by the late, great Louis Armstrong. Along with having an annual “Hot Jazz” festival right in her childhood backyard and appearing on Wycliffe Gordon’s Armstrong tribute Hello, Pops, the native of Chilliwack, British Columbia (“The jazz metropolis of Canada,” she informed us) is a volunteer at the Louis Armstrong Museum in Corona, Queens. I didn’t see her when I visited the museum last year, but if I had, I’m pretty sure I’d have gotten chapter and verse on Satch’s most colorful life. For Skonberg, making that music live and breathe his her mission. Louis invented it, and then he perfected it, so that settles it, right?

Now, for most of the near-full house at A Place For Jazz, a player like Skonberg is a breath of fresh air – as is her skin-tight backup band, all of whom are down with the “WWLD” (What Would Louis Do) program, right down to reedman Evan Arntzen’s slicked-up hairdo and skinny bowtie. What this group did over two bright, lively sets is right in this concert series’ wheelhouse, and choosing Skonberg to close the 2014 season was a stroke of genius on the part of APFJ’s brain trust. Mind you, for those of us who prefers this music’s future over its past, this was a glimpse of what it might be like if Jazz At Lincoln Center had a summer camp in the Catskills where teenagers re-created the genre’s “good old days.” Not good, right? Well… yes and no.

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LIVE: The Joe Fiedler Trio @ Quinn’s, 11/3/14

Friday, November 14th, 2014
The Joe Fiedler Trio

The Joe Fiedler Trio

Review and photographs by Rudy Lu

Avant garde jazz is generally heard infrequently around Greater Nippertown, although venues such as the Sanctuary for an Independent Media in Troy and Club Helsinki in Hudson have hosted the form on an occasional basis.

About a year ago, a small lunch luncheonette known as Quinn’s in Beacon was converted into a small Japanese restaurant/bar that features live music several times a week, including Monday night jazz sessions.

On Monday, November 3, the spotlight was on the Joe Fiedler Trio. Led by stellar trombonist Joe Fiedler and featuring bassist Rob Yost and drummer Michael Sarin, the threesome took advantage of the ability to swing about and shift tempo on a dime in the manner that only a small ensemble of virtuosos can.

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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?

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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.

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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.”

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