Manhattan School of Music Jazz Orchestra - Neidorff-Karpati Hall – November 11, 2016
This was the final concert presentation at MSM for program leader Justin DiCioccio (although the following Monday the Orch will be playing the same program at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola); much beloved JD is retiring at the end of the year. The sketch included here is from a different gig; at this MSM event DiCioccio restricted himself to conducting the orchestra with guest (and NEA Jazz Master) Dave Liebman. The oeuvre was a “recomposition” of the classic Gil Evans/Miles Davis album collaboration, “Miles Ahead.” Liebman showed why he is a master, soloing his way through, channeling Miles with the soprano sax (and a brief stint with some small whistley thing I wasn’t nimble enough to catch). Despite neither piano nor guitar here, the Evans tonal palette is rich, and not stinted on, including French horns, tuba, multiple bass clarinets, and alto flute, aside from the usual suspects.
Escher String Quartet - Vassar College, Skinner Hall - November 6, 2016
The quartet program included works by Mozart, Bartók, and then a quintet (add Crow’s piano) of Dvorák. (Sorry Anton, all those different accents available, but not the correct one for your “o”!) Somehow I got the start time incorrect, and arrived so late that I missed the first piece (sorry Wolfgang!). I stood in the back for the high priority Bartók (string quartet #2), sublime. It was composed during the first world war, and had a melancholy wtf vibe that I find common to pieces created under such circumstances of duress. Finally got a seat for the quintet after intermission. Two sketches of the complete ensemble were on facing pages in the book, combined here for a composite.
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged Aaron Boyd, Adam Barnett-Hart, Brook Spelz, cello, Escher String Quartet, piano, Pierre LaPointe, Todd Crow, Vassar College, viola, violin
Manhattan School of Music Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra - Neidorff-Karpati Hall November 4, 2016
Once again Bobby Sanabria has whipped his student charges into shape (including getting them all dressed up) for an evening of new pieces or new arrangements of canonical masters (Wes Montgomery, Elmo Hope). The ensemble had no shortage of energy, the evening boasting a sustained dynamic tasteful and powerful groove. Many of the new compositions/arrangements were by MSM alumni (and one by a current AFJO member); quite a number were in attendance, and each of these was brought to the stage to bask in audience appreciation. As usual, Sanabria extends the eduational mission to the audience by providing background on the music and its historical context, and his sterling showmanship – he dances, he chants, he bangs timbale LOUD, he barks like a dog – is always part of the package.
Toby Ekpunobi and Armando Vergara
Luis Vazquez - Takao Heisho - Noel Mason
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged Armando Vergara, bass, Bobby Sanabria, bongo drum, Cole Hazlitt, conga drum, drums, Luis Vazquez, Manhattan School of Music Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra, Matt Wong, Nicola Caminit, Noel Mason, piano, Rico Jones, Santosh Sharma, soprano saxophone, Takao Heisho, tenor saxophone, Toby Ekpunobi, trombone, trumpet, Tyler Tritt
Dia de Muertos - Brewster Public Library/Southeast Museum - October 29, 2016
I don’t think that the day of the dead (Dia de Muertos) is exactly the Hispanic Halloween, but the affinities are striking. That there could be acceptance, even celebration associated with death, honoring those passed – it’s a bit deeper than the sanitized Hershey’s/Nestle’s version that’s all too common – and no clowns, please, too frightening? So this event had multiple components, including face-painting, a procession, music, dance, and snacks (but no candy). One hilarious dance featured three stooped oldsters with canes who may or may not have been dead. I know my limits, so didn’t even try to capture dancers.
Miguel Angel Mendoza
Miguel A. Mendoza and Cosobi Mendoza
Jane Ira Bloom - Bruno Walter Auditorium - October 20, 2016
Bloom, soprano saxist, is a seeker for inspiration for her new works, and she landed on Emily Dickinson once she learned that ED was a pianist and an improviser. From there, she selected a dozen or so choice verses and used them as the basis for the works performed here, as “Wild Lines”. Pitching in was actress Deborah Rush, who recited the poetry as intro to the pieces. Among the expansive innovative techniques employed by Bloom were back-and-forth motion of the sax to make a mild wavering Doppler effect, and blowing directly at the strings of the open piano (sustain pedal down) to provide a batch of lingering string notes – wild stuff! Somehow my autograph mojo was a little off, so I only got three.
Jane Ira Bloom
James Ruff - Skinner Hall, Vassar College - October 1, 2016
Ruff’s original (and still principle) musical career focus has been voice, and I’m not sure I would have attended if that was the extent of this solo concert. But he also performs on early Gaelic wire harp (you know, the one on the Guinness logo), and is a scholar of the instrument’s history and repertoire. So the combination was sufficiently beguiling, and proved worthy. The singing was in old Gaelic, and Ruff dives deep into ancient authenticity here as well, bringing us back hundreds of years with his expressive tenor voice. Unfortunately, a harp string broke, but luckily it was on the final tune.
Julie Corbalis - Brewster Farmers Market - October 1, 2016
Corbalis was the final performer for this year’s local farmers market, cheerfully reeling off the numbers despite the intermittent drizzle. Her latest CD effort is titled “What’s Up With This Heart?”. Mostly originals, though she covered Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to Do With It”.
Awa Sangho - White Plains Jazz Fest - September 25, 2016
This was actually a multi-act afternoon, of which I caught only a fraction. Headliner Sangho, the “golden voice of Mali”, is from a griot lineage; she featured a band that was totally (or almost – Moreno from USA, I think) African. The music had a strong drive, and when Sangho’s shoes came off, oooh the dancing!
Abou Lion Diarra
Gustavo Dantas Magnani
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged Abou Lion Diarra, Awa Sangho, bass, Daniel Moreno, drums, Fred Doumbé, guitar, Gustavo Dantas Magnani, kora, percussion, vocal, White Plains Jazz Fest, Yacouba Sissoko
Pluck and Rail - Upstream Gallery - September 24, 2016
New venue for me, located in Hastings-on-Hudson. This is a curious Americana-esque duo, in that one of the instruments is a cello, played standing up. Repertoire was a mix of originals and folksy standards. Schubert, a bandmate of Gierer’s from a previous group, joined in for a couple of numbers, not enough to get included in the painting. I’d thought that the name in some way referred to music, specifically the combo’s particular instrumentation or methods of playing. But no, instead, these are slaughterhouse terms, giving some indication of the band’s sensibility, suffused with humor and irony.
Andrew Sussman and George Gierer
MAKU SoundSystem - Rubenstein Atrium - September 22, 2016
MAKU is pretty close to the ultimate in World Music. The basic band has a South American orientation, mostly Colombia. The concert was like a showcase revue, with MAKU showing their stuff, and then bringing on musicians from elsewhere, not merely backing them up, but getting deep into the collaboration. We had Lodescar with a gospel-oriented focus; Ben Jaafar (Morocco), playing the guembri (this oversized version is a kind of proto-electric bass) as part of Innov Gnawa, specializing in the music of northwest Africa; Benavides was part of the Afro-Colombian song-and-dance troupe Bulla en el Barrio. There were others that I didn’t get to portray. Half the time, in the dim light, I was merely guessing which color I had in my hand. Poor Liliana!
Robert Stringer and Isaiah Richardson Jr.
Hassan Ben Jaafar
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged Andres Jiminez, bass, conga drum, David Rubenstein Atrium, drum, Gabriel Benavides, Hassan Ben Jaafar, Isaiah Richardson Jr, Juan Ospina, Kemba Lodescar, Liliana Conde, maracas, Moris Canate, Robert Stringer, tenor saxophone, trumpet, vocal