Brewster Music Festival - Wells Park - June 9, 2018
What could be more convenient? A festival right in my hometown, thanks to the Town of Southeast Cultural Arts Commission. Only had time for a couple of hours of it, though, so basically caught Funigiello’s abbreviated set, and the Soul Proprietors.
Kim Marie Papa
Marcia Ball - CHIRP, Ballard Park, Ridgefield - June 5, 2018
CHIRP just keeps getting better and better, quite an extensive lineup for this year, congratulations Ridgefield. Blues belle Ball has got her red beans cookin’, I don’t know how she can keep up that singing, but thank the Lord. She’s from that Louisiana/Texas nexus, as is the rest of the band; it’s not exactly N’Awlins, but we’re just talking overlappng Venn diagrams here. The band plows through one number after another, with minimal patter, they came to PLAY! It’s so second nature for Ball at this point, she sits at the piano stool, one leg draped over the other, somewhat belying the intensity of the music being produced. Bassist Bennett has been with Ball sine 1981!
Victor Goines & Friends - Woodlawn Cemetery - June 3, 2018
Goines is an oft-seen element of the Jazz-at-Lincoln-Center/New Orleans pipeline, occasionally a group leader, as he was in this instance. He’s got some cool friends indeed – top-shelf pianist Diehl had been on my radar screen for some time now, whereas Felder and Rampton were not there at all, and thus unanticipated delights. The cemetery is final resting place for many jazz greats, lending a narrative structure to the set list (here’s one by Duke Ellington, here’s one by Coleman Hawkins, etc.) that closed with Miles Davis’s “So What”. My personal highlight was a piano/soprano sax duet composed by the buried-elsewhere Sidney Bechet.
Thornetta Davis - Rubenstein Atrium - May 10, 2018
Davis is Detroit’s Queen of the Blues, and there’s no mistaking that – I told her that she must have gone to Aretha-school. Her band provides a full sound to give heft to go along with her amazing pipes. Some covers, some originals. The featured instrumental soloist was guitarist Washington, and he had all old-school and classic blues styles covered; the others copped a few dregs here & there to good effect.
Sly Scott & Greg Glassman
James Jamalot Anderson
Four-Ever Yours String Quartet - New York Botanical Garden - May 5, 2018
This was a NYC Urban Sketchers event, in conjunction with a few other things going on at the NYBG. So what do I do? Go to the garden and don’t sketch any of the flowers! Instead, I noticed live music, and I was socked in. This quartet had a mix of genuine classical and pop-reformulated for SQ, which was a nice blend. There was so much I didn’t recognize, or did but couldn’t place, but alas, no set list.
Four-Ever Yours String Quartet
Downtown Comes Uptown - Rubenstein Atrium - April 26, 2018
Because uptown isn’t sufficiently alt-; there’s a feeder program from Rockwell Music Hall so that the uptown crowd doesn’t have to descend into the hurly-burly (I’m projecting here, having never been to Rockwell). Four musical acts performing a sampler of three tunes each – hardly enough time to do sketch justice to the ensembles, but I like the challenge of the impossible. Opener McFerrin is yes, daughter of famed Bobby (and likewise performs barefoot). This was a powerhouse “solo” a capella presentation, using a voice-looping gizmo (I’m not up on all the latest) to build a chorus of her lovely pipes. Next was the trio House of Waters featuring a hammered dulcimer jam session. Third was solo John Fullbright, and the closer was Elizabeth & the Catapult (sorry drummer, no time left for you) with some nice evanescent tunes of sophisticated compositional complexity folded into a pop sensibility.
Ignacio Rivas Bixio
Shamisen and Shakuhachi - Greenwich Library - April 22, 2018
I had no clue how to title this post – “Japanese Music” seemed too crass. So I named it for the musical instruments. What an intriguing presentation – the fruit of the Otozawa Project, dedicated to promoting traditional Japanese music, disseminated by “cultural envoys”. And while the instruments and garb were surely traditional, it seemed that many of the pieces were relatively recent – some from the second half of the 20th century. There were a lot of contemplative spaces and dynamics to appreciate in the selections, as Honjoh and Obama took turns applying their own personal touches in solo pieces and duets. The shamisen (strings made of silk!) is played with what has to be the world’s biggest guitar pick.
Arturo O’Farrill Sextet - Bronx Library Center - April 14, 2018
This is a family affair, and a royal jazz family to boot. Arturo is already the second generation of O’Farrill players, and he’s brought along two sons into the business. Yes, this music has got a Cuban soul (and some requisite percussion), but it is not at all clichéd, and to me is primarily jazz for improvisation; I would be surprised if these players knew exactly where things were going at the start of each piece – a number of which are original compositions. But they sure went places! Hardly anything is as gratifying as when an old master at peak (in this case Arturo) provides a safe place for the next generation to flourish, and I detect no nepotism drawback in this case. It’s an honor to witness the torch-passing, not that Arturo’s going away any time soon.
Busking New York - Kenny John - April 11, 2018
I’m afraid that Kenny might be playing the same song all day. He was one of those buskers who was trying to give money to me! Is that the upside or the downside of my shabby attire?
North County Harp Ensemble - Mahopac Library - March 18, 2018
A little preview of heaven here. Six harps resonating together, totally captivating. A somewhat Gallic-leaning repertoire in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.