Posts Tagged ‘The Van Dyck’

LIVE: Rory Block @ the Van Dyck, 10/4/13

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

Review by Bokonon

Rory Block wasn’t born with the blues, but she was raised with it. An unbelievable pantheon of greats strolled through the door of her father’s Greenwich Village sandal shop, and the young Aurora sat down at their feet, to learn, as cliché would have it, from the masters.

Did she meet Robert Johnson? No. But she did shake hands with Son House, Mississippi John Hurt, Rev. Gary Davis, Mississippi Fred McDowell and the wraith-like Skip James.

At the Van Dyck, Block turned that protean knowledge into a hellfire of blues. Maybe the real heart of Block’s sound is the way her socket wrench slide clicks against the frets. She’s not taking it easy.

The drone of an open tuning is an ancient moan that crosses many cultures. In Block’s world, it summons the Delta. Not the crossroads, butthe real sharecropper sound of bright, intelligent people forced to work with their backs. She may not fit the visual — still beautiful at 63, her long flowing hair touched with grey — but she channels the sound.



LIVE: Bruce Barth/Steve Nelson Quartet @ the Van Dyck, 6/21/13

Monday, July 1st, 2013
The Bruce Barth/Steve Nelson Quartet

The Bruce Barth/Steve Nelson Quartet

Review by J Hunter
Photos by Rudy Lu

It was a meeting of two truisms: “Timing is everything” and “It’s not what you know – it’s who know!” Pianist Bruce Barth and vibes master Steve Nelson were set to play a duo show at the Rochester Jazz Festival the other weekend. Knowing they were going to be passing through the area, Greater Nippertown drummer/educator Michael Benedict got in touch with Barth and asked if the duo would like to warm up with a quartet gig at the Van Dyck. Phone calls were made, emails were exchanged, and before anybody knew it, every table in the club’s upstairs space was filled with people. That doesn’t happen on a Friday night in June, and the anticipation was palpable as we waited to see what this one-off group would do.

Mind you, this wasn’t completely a one-off group: Both Benedict and bassist Mike Lawrence have played and recorded with Barth in Benedict’s smokin’-hot outfit Bopitude, while Nelson was the primary foil on Barth’s 2012 Savant release Three Things of Beauty. The latter disc had a rhythm section of bassist Ben Street and drummer Dana Hall, neither of whom you’d see on a list entitled “Slouches.” To hear Barth tell it, though, he couldn’t have been happier with the place he was playing or the people backing him up. “Albany’s become like a second home to me,” he told us, gesturing towards Benedict, “thanks to this wonderful drummer…” Barth also called Lawrence “the nicest guy in jazz,” making sure we knew that “nice” applied to his playing abilities as well as his personality, and intimating that if Lawrence ever decided to roll the dice, he could make some serious noise on the New York City jazz scene.


LIVE: Van Dyck All-Stars’ Saxophone Summit @ the Van Dyck, 4/19/13

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

Van Dyck All-Stars’ Saxophone Summit @ the Van Dyck, 4/19/13

Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Albert Brooks
A JazzApril story

“It’s great to see a room packed for jazz in Schenectady,” tenorman Brian Patneaude told the folks at the Van Dyck’s full-to-bursting concert space. I have to agree, but I’d like to amend that statement: It was great to see a room packed for LOCAL jazz in Schenectady! After all, most of these guys do get around the area, and three-quarters of the All-Stars’ front line play this same space every month when Keith Pray’s Big Soul Ensemble does its first-Tuesday residency thing. I’m sure a lot of it had to do with the respective fan bases the players have generated over the years. The thing is, though, the fan base for one band member included everybody else on the bandstand.

That man would be Leo Russo, who’s been playing sax in Greater Nippertown longer than I’ve lived here, and I’m working on my third decade. Not only is Russo living proof of the deep roots jazz has in these parts, but he’s also gifted us with a sapling that’s growing into a mighty oak himself – multi-instrumentalist Lee Russo, who (like Patneaude and altoist Keith Pray, the fourth member of the All-Stars’ kickass front line) I would be happy to watch play the phone book. Lee played baritone sax as well as tenor on this evening, adding another axe to his already sizeable arsenal; I’m convinced he’s going to be our Joe Lovano, mastering a myriad number of reed instruments most people never heard of. I’d only seen the elder Russo play twice before: Once with a pickup band at an Albany Musicians Union JAM celebration, and once with pianist Yuko Kishimoto at Athens Cultural Center. To see him with this group was a once-in-a-lifetime thing, so I was on it like a duck on a June bug.


LIVE: Michael Benedict & Bopitude @ the Van Dyck, 3/30/13

Friday, April 5th, 2013
Michael Benedict & Bopitude @ the Van Dyck, 3/30/13 (photo by Rudy Lu)

Michael Benedict

Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Rudy Lu
A JazzApril story

Given a choice, I’ll take new jazz over old jazz. To my mind, anything that moves the music forward should get all the love it can. But last Saturday night, I needed to get back to the basics, to the roots, and get a big juicy cleansing shot of the pure. For me, that’s hard bop, which added nice sharp teeth to a sub-genre that reflected this country’s energized post-World War II mentality. Thankfully, Michael Benedict & Bopitude are dedicated to not only showcasing this music, but also making it as electrifying as it was back in the day.

Besides my need to flush out the avant-garde rubbish that had clogged up my soul the night before, there were two other reasons for checking out Bopitude’s latest appearance. First, this group sounds big at festivals and concert halls; in a small venue like the Van Dyck’s upstairs concert space, they’re absolutely massive – and that was before they added the second reason for seeing this band: Baritone sax master Gary Smulyan, who’s got a sound that shakes whatever floor he’s standing on. Benedict’s sextet has a weapons-grade front line, and I had a front row seat. What’s more, when I came in off the street, people who’d attended the first set were buying tickets for the second set, so I knew this was going to be a sweet time.


Jazz Appreciation Month Returns to Nippertown

Monday, April 1st, 2013

Story by J Hunter
Video by Susan Brink
A JazzApril story

Okay, you know by now (or you ought to know, anyway) that I think EVERY month should be Jazz Appreciation Month! And in Greater Nippertown, that wouldn’t be hard to achieve. Between a local scene that’s extremely vibrant and major concerts by kick-ass artists like the Hot Club of Detroit, SFJAZZ Collective, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Joe Lovano’s Us Five and Brian Blade & the Fellowship Band, we’ve already reaped an abundance of musical riches this year.

But when someone at the Smithsonian Institute threw a dart at the office calendar, it landed on April: In the words the late, great gun nut Charlton Heston, “So let it be written; so let it be done!” Now UNESCO has gotten into the act, too, taking the idea global by promoting concerts all around the world on April 30th, otherwise known as International Jazz Day. Finally, there’s a worldwide conspiracy I can get behind!

And what do we get out of all this intercontinental musical goodness? Get out your Smart Phone, BlackBerry or crayons and start checking off the dates:


LIVE: Stephane Wrembel @ the Van Dyck, 3/9/13

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

Stephane Wremble (photo by Rudy Lu)

Photographs by Rudy Lu. See more of Rudy’s photos from this show here…

When Gypsy jazz guitar virtuoso Stephane Wrembel rolled into town a year ago for his debut performance at The Egg, he brought along a wailin’, whoppin’ 10-piece band that was dubbed Django a Go Go, in tribute to the late, great guitar wizard Django Reinhardt.

Last Saturday night, Wrembel returned to the Local 518, this time around playing the considerably more intimate Van Dyck in Schenectady. And fittingly, his band was a more compact quartet – bassist Dave Speranza, drummer Nick Anderson and fellow guitarist Roy Williams. But the energy and enthusiasm, the passion and precision was still evident in full force…

UPCOMING: Wrembel is also slated to make a return to the Greater Nippertown area at 9pm on Friday, May 10, when he plays a concert at the Bearsville Theater in Woodstock. Tickets are $15.

Stephane Wremble (photo by Rudy Lu)

LIVE: The Hot Club of Detroit @ the Van Dyck, 2/1/13

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013
 The Hot Club of Detroit  (photo by Rudy Lu)

The Hot Club of Detroit

Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Rudy Lu

Some music just needs to be seen in a small space. For instance, even though Troy Savings Bank Music Hall was acoustically perfect for Hot Club of San Francisco, both the band and the music seemed “too small for the room” during their appearance last year. In comparison, Hot Club of Detroit’s show at the Van Dyck Restaurant & Lounge last Friday night (February 1) was not just perfectly wonderful – it was also perfectly scaled. Maybe the Van Dyck’s concert space is a loft instead of a basement, and it may also be a non-smoking environment, but a band and its sound has never seemed more at home.

Obviously, Hot Club SF and Hot Club Detroit are devotees of the legendary Quintette du Hot Club de France, and both groups make jazz icon Django Reinhardt’s no-drums-required acoustic matrix live and breathe. But where the Bay Area band is hamstrung by guitarist/founder Paul Mehling’s “too cool for my two-tone wingtips” attitude, the quartet from the Motor City focuses on making the music and making it right. That’s not to say HCD leader Evan Perri isn’t up for fun: Before their set-closer “Goodbye Mr. Anderson,” he gave away the last copy of their new disc Junction by holding an impromptu “Django Reinhardt Trivia” contest. But from the first notes of the driving opener “J’attendrai” to the last chord of the beautiful encore “Si Tu Savais,” it was all about bringing Django’s sound into the 21st century.


LIVE: The Duke Robillard Band @ the Van Dyck, 1/18/13 (Both Shows)

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013
Duke Robillard

Duke Robillard

Review by Fred Rudofsky
Photographs by Rudy Lu

Starving for a fine meal, craving a cold beverage, and yearning for music to soothe my Frankenstein-like monster soul, I sped down I-90 after a frantic work week to the Van Dyck in Schenectady.

“I’d like a ticket for each show, the 7 and the 9:30, please,” I asked the vendor.

“Just one? For both shows? You’re just by yourself?” she smiled awkwardly. I sensed her pity.

“Yes,” I replied. I had the loneliness-blues for sure, and my stomach was growling, too.

I’m glad I bought a ticket for both sets – the music was, as expected, first-rate, and seeing that the venerable club had sold out all its tables was gratifying. Grammy nominee Duke Robillard and his talented band (Bruce Bears on keyboards; Brad Hallen on acoustic and electric bass; and Mark Teixeira on drums) took the stage to strong applause and launched into an instrumental take of “High Heel Sneakers” that slinky and greasy at the same time, and followed that with a swinging shuffle, “Jump the Blues for You.”


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