BEST OF 2014: Rudy Lu’s Top 10 Concerts
Story and photograph by Rudy Lu
1. Jaimeo Brown’s Transcendence @ the Sanctuary for Independent Media, Troy (12/7/14) – Free jazz trio performing 2 sets – both heavily interlaced with African American spirituals. The first with the heavy influence of East Indian Music, the second drenched in the blues and rock, leaving the audience mesmerized.
2. Alexis P. Suter @ The Linda, Albany (3/7/14) – Powerhouse blues vocalist Alexis P. Suter lead her crackerjack band through a searing set of blues originals and covers. Opening was Tas Cru playing his signature cigar-box guitar with a mixed acoustic/electric set backed by the rock solid rhythm section of Sonny Rock and Steve Kirsty.
3. David Bromberg & Larry Campbell @ The Falcon, Marlboro (7/16/14) – The inimitable David Bromberg with multi-instrumentalist Larry Campbell entertaining themselves and the audience in a 2.5-hour set of acoustic music that felt more like a house concert than a nightclub performance.
5. Jeff Haynes presents The Storm King @ the Towne Crier Café, Beacon (5/4/14) – A celebration of Pete Seeger’s 95th birthday. The death of folk legend Pete Seeger earlier this year prompted many concerts that celebrated his life. Jeff collaborated with Pete and produced his final recording – The Storm King. This concert was not the usual loose song swap among the Hudson Valley’s talented folk singers but a carefully orchestrated multimedia tribute featuring performances influenced by jazz and new age elements. Pete’s voice was featured telling stories and reciting poetry set to music.
6. Day One of Jazz at the Lake @ Lake George High School, Lake George (9/13/14) – The Lake George Arts Project’s annual jazz weekend always books a wide variety of America’s classical music – something to delight and challenge the standard definition of jazz. This year, producer Paul Pines outdid himself. A long, soaking rain forced this last gasp of summer indoors for the first day, but that didn’t dampen the spirit of the music. Day One opened with the Afro-Cuban sounds of Manuel Valera, continuing with the cabaret/Gypsy jazz vocals of Cyrille Aimee, Steve Bernstein’s genre-defying Sex Mob playing the music of Nino Rota and closed with the clarinet virtuoso Anat Cohen. Best of all, the concert and the entire weekend are free.
7. Living Colour @ the Empire State Plaza, Albany (6/4/14). This was a three-band free concert. Singer Corey Glover said, “We finally made it to the Capital, and we are going to burn it down.” They kept their word, with such fiery originals such as “Letter to a Landlord” and “Cult of Personality,” as well as Robert Johnson’s “Preaching Blues” and the Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go.” Somehow it all made sense. Local band Mirk did a credible job opening, Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds, with their horn driven R&B sound fronted by Arleigh Kinchloe, kept the crowd going with a rocking 40-minute set.
8. Harriet Tubman and Cassandra Wilson Present Black Sun @ The Egg, Albany (3/15/14) – Was it free jazz? Was it punk rock? Punk jazz? True artists challenge themselves and also their audience. Cassandra Wilson strapped on an electric guitar to front an avant funk jazz trio and proceeded to give a set of both subtle vocals and power instrumentals. She was just a member of the band, not the leader. I hope this collaboration has been or will be recorded soon.
9. Popa Chubby & Friends @ The Falcon, Marlboro (2/10/14) – A hot, fiery blues quartet blues quartet set a small but appreciative audience on fire on a cold Monday night. The band played a mixture of NOLA rock, Beatles, Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix. The drummer was notable jazzman Adam Nussbaum showing that musicians enjoy playing many styles of music.
10. Tootie’s Tempo @ The Falcon, Marlboro (1/28/14) – Jazz trio music by drummer Albert Heath, bassist Ben Streeter and pianist Ethan Iverson. Nothing fancy here, two sets of jazz standards with light-hearted banter about the golden age of jazz. Just plain fun.