Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Tirtha @ Jazz Standard + Indian Fusion

I first went to afro-carribbean dance class where we had a great substitute teacher. No dundun, but the congo and djembe were great and it was very enjoyable. We did a dance from Senegal and then Guinea. It was a lot of fun and I really love those drums. The dundun does make a big difference, though. That’s the drummer that usually also does the cowbell. Still there was chanting on the ceiling again and it was awesome.

I checked the schedule and figured I could get away with checking out the Indians at Jazz Standard. I’m really looking forward to next month at The Stone, when Vijay Iyer is curating. Still, I don’t see this particular trio on the bill and it looked like a special treat. Boy was it. I was surprised when I waltzed in at 9:30 that there were a lot of people waiting to get in and I had to put my name on the wait list. I did notice that everyone waiting around got in, and it didn’t look like they could accommodate one more person. That place is one of the best jazz clubs in the city, hands down. The staff is so cool and laid back and you kind of don’t feel like it’s NYC sometimes, until you start listening. They also have a strictly observed quiet policy – if they notice you are talking loudly enough for others to hear they will ask you nicely to stop. They also get excellent music every single night. The food is excellent. If you know what’s on the menu upstairs at Blue Smoke you can order it downstairs. There’s also never a minimum, so you don’t have to order anything at all. The only bad thing I’ve ever had there is their tea, both hot and iced. I bring my own if I want tea. I love their mint julep, but it’s really strong and I only have it once or twice a year.

The show started at 10pm because it took a while to seat everyone. It was absolutely fantastic. I see in the listing they say the guitarist Prasanna was influenced by Hendrix – you can tell. It wasn’t plain old jazz guitar, but kind of a jazz-rock fusion (but not “fusion” as tend to think of it). Maybe a better way to put it is “jazz-indian-rock fusion”. All 3 of them were amazing. I kept wondering why only 1 night and it turns out it’s a little tour put together by National Geographic to promote travel to India. The guitar player also did that interesting Indian voice percussion stuff that the tabla players often do. That looks really hard.

Now I’m REALLY looking forward to next month at The Stone. I wonder if that will draw a bigger than usual crowd, at least on the days Vijay is playing.


Tirtha: Vijay Iyer, Prasanna & Nitin Mitta
Vijay Iyer – pianoPrasanna – guitarNitin Mitta – percussion
The No. 1 “Rising Star” Jazz Artist and No. 1 “Rising Star” Composer in the 2007 Down Beat International Critics Poll, Vijay Iyer continues to expand the boundaries of jazz-based improvisation. The trio called Tirtha combines his formidable pianism with the tabla and percussion of Nitin Mitta and the fiery Hendrix-influenced electric guitar of Mumbai star Prasanna. Those who’ve followed the progress of Iyer’s various bands (Fieldwork, the V.I. Quartet, the duo Raw Materials) will know that Tirtha is not to be missed – all others are hereby put on notice. (This perform­ance is co-sponsored by National Geographic Traveler.)
Tickets: $20 plus tax

The show sparked me to put in my Indo-Jazz Fusions I&II cd, which is a double quintet with John Mayer and Joe Harriott. I found it a few years ago at Downtown Music Gallery. I used to go there often and just buy cds that looked interesting to get to know jazz music. I got this one because it was something Indian, and they had written on the shrink wrap John Mayer !! Joe Harriott!! Whenever Downtown Music Gallery puts an exclamation point on a cd it’s a sure thing. I was very interested in exploring Indian music more after seeing how it influenced John Coltrane and Derek Trucks. This cd has some very interesting sounds and seems more traditional than the show last night. Probably a lot is due to the instrumentation. I never even looked up Joe Harriott, so I decided to finally do so now:

Ooh! This looks like a great source with tons of great links to check out:

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