Monday, December 31, 2007

Kenny Wollesen @ Zebulon 12/30/07

It was listed as Kenny Wollesen Special Project. Really, all Kenny projects are special. It was awesome and I loved every minute. It wasn't too crowded, but it wasn't dead, either. I was intrigued by this big steel tub of water Kenny put out so I had to sit up front. He was using it to dip gongs into as he played. It was quite interesting.

There were 2 drummer/percussionists and 1 other percussionist, in addition to Kenny. There was also an upright bass, an electric guitar, and a trombone and tenor sax.

Kenny played so many different things it's hard to list them all, or even remember them all. I don't know what some of that stuff was to begin with. He was amazing on the balloons. Lots of unique things including his special marching band bass drum we see him with often.

The first set was about 1.5 hours and it was awesome. Occasionally, Kenny was telling us a story of a mouse who was trying to find a sound and finally found it on the river. He would just occasionally tell us about the mouse throughout the set. It was grooving at times. There was also a lot of that beautiful, melancholy music I hear on the Zebulon cds. He's got a piece on each cd and they are amazing.

When the mouse got to the river the music reminded of NOLA. It was really great.

The 2nd set was about an hour, and a bunch of us were up dancing in the front. It was really awesome. A guy in a Mule shirt and his date got us started with a dance floor. Before that, a few of us were dancing off to the side. It was so much fun!

It was also very influenced by Sun Ra. They even did a little "Space is the Place" chanting at times. I have a feeling a lot of it will be similar to what's coming up at The Stone on 1/1. They didn't read much poetry, but it will still probably be similar.

It was fabulous and I'm so glad I'm on vacation and could make it for the whole thing. It ended around 1:45. I started vacation last Fri, was starting to get on the late schedule, but ended up back on the early schedule when I went to FL for Christmas. I'm glad I seem to be back on the late sched again.

Here's the listing for The Stone for tomorrow:
1/1 Tuesday (CW)
8 pm
Kenny Wollesen's Himalayas Marching Band
Kenny Wollesen and a host of anarchistic zanies
An experience of unbridled madness. Bring in the new year with this outrageous and impossible ensemble party!

10 pm
The Wollesens with poetry and prose by Sun Ra
Kenny Wollesen (drums) and his new unit
An evening of Wollesen music and readings from another planet channeling the galactic traveller Sun Ra.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

George Porter, JR Birthday Bash, NYC

That was a great time! So nice to have a late night funkdown and I'm so glad George was able to do a birthday thing up here. He mentioned this was his 2nd celebration this week, with the 1st being in NOLA. I again feel blessed to be here.

There were a lot of people shut out last night, but that was just due to not thinking about it early enough. I bought my ticket shortly after they went on sale at the box office without giving it a 2nd thought. Most people who wanted in badly enough were able to get in, though. It was a lot of fun and good to see everyone.

I like the venue. I hadn't been there yet. I was afraid of the word "theatre". It was actually pretty good, with a large floor area and then some movie-theatre style seats which I think helped a lot. Some people really like seats. That was a sold out show and it didn't feel over-crowded. Even in spite of the cordoned off VIP area up front to the right of the stage. That area was just a little too large for the amount of people in it, which just seemed wrong. I think that brought more people who were allowed to be in there out into the rest of the area, making it more crowded. I hope they re-think that in the future.

The show was awesome. 1st set was just PBS. That was pretty good, although I've been to some better PBS shows. Still, it was enjoyable and there were some extra good moments. Russell was in check for the most part, which makes all the difference.

They brought out the guests for the 2nd set, starting with Warren and Danny Louis and Andy Hess. This set was kind of a blur for me, so I'm not quite sure what exactly went on. I think Matt Abts didn't make it and at first George was on the 2nd kit. I think before Warren left the stage, he was on that kit and there was another non-drummer up there for a bit. That made it pretty fun.

I was pretty impressed with Karl Densen, something I rarely say. It was because those earlier horns at Mule were so lacking and he is a real player and he was pretty good last night. After that, those very same horns showed up and I supressed a groan. Actually, I think I did groan. Disappointing again. We did not need them in the room at all. Worse, they did Pass the Peas and it just felt so lacking when the horns started playing. Thank God Karl was there to at least save it a little. Again, it wasn't terrible, but it could have been a lot better. I still can't believe I wanted horns to leave the stage. This is really a first for me.

Krasno was up there for a while and the whole thing was a lot of fun. John Gros was up there for a while as well.

They announced last call at 3:45 and said they would play unti 4:30. George didn't realize the venue had other ideas about how long they would play. Still, it was good and funky with some room to dance for the last few songs 4:00-4:20. I really enjoyed it and had a lot of fun with that.

Overall a great time and I'm glad I got to be there.

Gov't Mule @ The Beacon 12/28 & 29

The 1st 2 nights of Government Mule have been amazing. Both nights, the 2nd set seemed to come up a notch.

I actually made it early on Fri, so I decided to check out Keller Williams. He's a 1 man band with some sampling and recorded stuff to make it all work. I could get into the music and it was kind of fun for a while. It did start getting old after a while and I thought an hour was a bit long. I think he would do well if he expanded himself a bit by doing projects with different people now and then. Kind of like Papa Mali. I couldn't help but wonder how someone could go to such effort to be able to just play on his own. He did sit in with Mule later and that was enjoyable. I'm being more critical because I remember meeting someone at a festival who kept raving about him and thought he was one of the best acts ever. I had that kind of question in my head when I was watching him.

Mule was awesome with the 2nd set even surpassing the 1st. They did some good covers, including Led Zep. The drum solo was off the hook amazing. I could have listened to those drums forever. It was really great.

It was awesome and I decided to skip Kinninger at Blue Note since I can overdo that if I go to much. I didn't want to ruin how good I felt from that show.

I caught the whole Tea Leaf Green set on Sat. That was great. I'm not super crazy about the singers, but they aren't bad, either. My favorite was the funky instrumental song they did about 1/2 way through the set. They also sat in with Mule during the 1st set and that was great.

The whole first set was great, with the 2nd set being even greater. I thought Sat was even better than Fri. It cinched for me that there is no way I'm not going up there NYE. I will start there, and I still think there's a slight chance I will leave and head over to The Join for a bit. I kind of doubt it, though. It it's anything like the past 2 nights, I probably won't be able to pull myself away.

Andy Hess is amazing. I had a bad moment with the sound at ACL one year and wrote how I kept trying to get away from the bass. I've been trying to make up for that since then. The guy blows me away every time since then, so I'm not sure what was going on that time.

George Porter Jr. sat in for a couple of songs 2nd set, confirming that he is the funkiest one around. No question. They did some super funky Little Feat cover and then Hey Pocky Way. I love Matt Abts and I'm not that big a fan of Russel Batiste these days. Still, I was missing him a little on Hey Pocky Way, although I think it was the old him, the one who used to play at Tramps and had me with my mouth wide open, jaw-dropped awe of his playing. It was still awesome and I will take Matt any day, I was just missing something familiar with that song and the drums that I didn't get at that show.

The one really disappointing thing, which didn't ruin it, but was super disappointing was this horn section they brought out 2nd set. They had no business being up there and I keep wondering where they even got them. I am very spoiled with horns, but those 3 just weren't up to par to play with a band of that calibar for an audience that is used to so much better. It was even more disappointing when they showed up later at the Porter birthday bash. I never thought I'd be sad about horns showing up. I mean, they could have done better by picking up some kids from the school Dirty Dozen was always bringing them out from. Or, off the street in NOLA or down in the subway. It wasn't awful, it was just they weren't powerful enough and didn't really add anything to the show. And, their playing kind of subtracted from the rest of the band's playing. We didn't need them at all.

Anyway, that was only a minor disappointment as the show was THAT good. The highlight was when George and Brian came out to play, but the whole thing was phenomenal.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Word @ Terminal 5 12/27/07

I was reminded last night that I just go to stellar jazz shows all the time while I'm waiting for shows like last night to come around. Don't get me wrong, I love jazz. It's just that I had to make a concerted effort to love it, by listening to the greats on cd for a while, before I could appreciate it. I had the goal of being able to go out to live music every night, and being in NYC, I knew I could accomplish that by adding more jazz to the list of potentials. Since then, I've fallen in love with the genre, and it's helped me appreciate everything more.

Still, last night was much more my style. I love that southern influenced, jamming, funky, soulful stuff. I love NMAS period. Adding Medeski just makes it all the better. I even enjoyed Robert Randolph last night. I suspected I would, since I loved it a few years ago when he came out playing regular guitar at a NMAS show at Irving Plaza.

I didn't know about The Word when they played an Iriving Plaza show previously. I stumbled on their cd when I was browing Ropadope's online catelogue a few of years ago. I knew I had to have it immediately, so I purchased it with that order. It's an awesome cd.

I was so glad to get the chance to see them live in person last night. I listened to everyone who had been to Terminal 5 so far making me hesitant I wanted to even be there. I then realized my expectations were so low there was a good chance it would be better than I think. It was. I think the fact that it wasn't sold out helped as well. It was pretty crowded, but not overly crowded. I loved finding room to dance. I also loved that the crowd was into dancing, or at least there were enough dancers to make me happy.

At first, I was on the 1st floor under the overhang. I held my coat and had plenty of room to dance. I had gotten there a few minutes after it started, so I didn't have to wait in a bad line. I lucked out because I was actually late, and they ended up starting late. I would not have wanted to miss much of that. I was enjoying the music, even though the sound wasn't great for a while. Then, I decided to find the coat check, which is on the 2nd floor. It sounded a lot better up there and it wasn't too crowded. I decided to see what the 3rd floor was like. It had more room and I found a place to stash my coat. I stayed up there for a bit, but it was too hot. I went down to the 2nd floor and found a good dancing spot. I couldn't see, but it didn't really matter. I had a great time over there. At set break, I went down to the floor to socialize and ended up staying down there for the first few songs of the 2nd set. The nice, soulful sultry stuff. I had room and could dance, but I did end up going back to the 2nd floor so I could have lots of room.

Overall, the venue wasn't bad. It's a large venue and that's how they are. I enjoyed all the music, every minute of it. I won't be going there that much, but that's mainly due to large venue and location.

I thought about trying to get to Burnt Sugar at Zebulon, but decided I had enough and could go home.

It was a great way to start the rest of the year. I've been off since Fri afternoon, and I feel like things are kicking up a notch after last night. I'm looking forward to the Mule and Porter and I'll probably end up at The Join. I hope to get to Kinninger tonight at Blue Note.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Paquito D'Rivera & Funk Tango @ Dizzy's 12/26/07

I only make it to Dizzy's 2-4 times a year, but I really like it there. It's the expense and the distance that keeps me away. I think it's the fanciest of the jazz clubs and still has a nice vibe. I've only eaten a few things there over the years, but the food is pretty good. Again, the only horrible jazz club with horrible food is Blue Note.

Anyway, since I missed the tango music at Jazz Standard at the beginning of the month I really wanted to get to this. I know all music at Dizzy's is stellar and this was no exception. I got my favorite seat, the bar stool closest to the kitchen, where I'm allowed to stand and dance a little. It's also a great vantage point. I don't like the stools in the center, because it's tight when the waiters walk by, which is often since they need to get to the bar.

This is the band from the listing:
Featuring Paquito D'Rivera, alto saxophone & clarinet; Diego Urcola, trumpet & valve trombone; Alex Brown, piano; Hector Del Curto, bandoneon; Pernell Saturnino, percussion; Oscar Stagnaro, bass; Mark Walker, drums.

Amazing! They were pushing the cd and said all of the songs are from that cd. I don't really need anymore jazz cds, I prefer to hear that kind of stuff live.

They had a drummer and 2 percussionists, which was great. I must admit I didn't really need the trumpet/trombone since Paquito was so amazing. The bandoneon is apparantly a big part of tango music and looks kind of like an accordion without the keyboard part. It sounded similar to an accordian or a melodica. Here is an interesting wikipedia article about tango with a picture of the bandoneon:

I thought the electric bass was a nice touch. I especially enjoyed Paquito, the drummer, and the piano.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

John Ellis + Tony Malaby + Steve Nelson 12/22

I started out at Jazz Gallery for John Ellis' commissioned project Dreamscapes. Here is the info about the project in John's own words:

Marcus Rojas - tuba
Daniel Sadownick - percussion
Tim Collins - vibes and marimba
Olivier Manchon - violin and saw
Hiroko Taguchi - violin
Corrina Albright - viola
Christopher Hoffman - cello

I'll be playing a bunch of wacky woodwinds + a few surprsises.

This is a totally new and risk taking venture for me. Here's a few words about what I'm up to:

"Dreamscapes" attempts to portray through sound the strange and wonderful dreams that we all have every night - and remember from time to time.

While I was struggling to find a concept several people told me about dreams they had been having, and I decided it would be a great challenge to try to create mini-soundtracks for dreams. At first I thought they'd be actual dreams, ones that I gathered from friends or perhaps strangers even, but this proved too daunting a challenge, and perhaps more importantly, too time consuming. At that point I enlisted a good friend, Andy Bragen, who's a playwright and asked him if he might compose some dream-like words, poems really, that I could use as inspiration. The end result is the 'Dreamscapes' project.

It was quite amazing. They gave us a program with the poems, which are about the dreams. Before each song, the poet first read the poem. It made the songs even more enjoyable, to picture the musical intepretation of the dream. The setup was a string quartet in the middle, Marcus Rojas in the back, the percussionist off to the left side and the vibes in the back on the right. John was out front playing amazing music on each of the reeds. It was very well done. The song about the subway made me think more of the streetcar in NOLA. The last song was a lot of fun, with scary, Halloween type songs. The Jazz Gallery guy thought that John pushed the envelop even more than the others that were involed in this project on previous nights.

The Jazz Gallery is just an amazing place and the people who run it are quite amazing. They spend a lot of time writing people asking for grants and always book the finest acts. I'm very proud to be a member, which has an additional perk that I only pay $10 whenever I go. I chose to sit up front last night, but I often dance in the back and no one ever makes me stop.

After that, it was on to Cornelia Street Cafe for Tony Malaby's apparitions. I love a band with 2 drummers, especially those 2.

Tony Malaby, tenor saxophone;Drew Gress, bass;Tom Rainey, drums;John Hollenbeck, drums

It was excellent. Only about 45 minutes, but I only paid $10 and no one made me pay the $6 min.

After that, I went over to Cachaca for Steve Nelson. I got the last couple of songs of the 2nd set and the whole 3rd set. That was my first time seeing him. I remember when he was playing Birdland, but it was expensive and I still had my Birdland block back then. When a vibe player is the leader things tend to be very lively. The last tune was a blues tune, and even that was pretty lively. Jonathan Baptiste was on piano. I was kind of tired when I got there, but the band woke me up real quick. Steve said he was rather tired and acted like the 3rd set was too much for him. Well, it certainly didn't show up in the music. It was great and very upbeat.

The Stone 12/21/07

I went to The Stone Fri night for this:

10 pm
Sylvie Courvoisier (piano) Okkyung Lee (cello) Miya Masaoka (koto)

I was amazing, as to be expected. They were filming it and said it would be available on-line at some point. They all played together and it was fantastic. While they were all awesome, Sylvie Courvoisier really blew me away. I can't believe how many of her shows I've missed. I don't think I've seen her since a Mephisto show at Tonic a while back. She really knows how to make full use of the piano. She makes it into a string instrument as well as a percussion.

I was reminded of this amazing show I saw a couple of years ago there:

8/17 Wednesday
8 and 10 pm
Wu Fei, Carla Kihlstedt, Ikue Mori, Sylvie
Courvosier, Kiku Day
Wu Fei (gu zheng) Carla Kihlstedt (violin) Ikue Mori (electronics) Sylvie
Courvosier (piano) Kiku Day (shakuhachi)

In that 8/17/05 show, curated by Carla Kihstedt, they kept having subsets of the whole group play together and then played all together at the end. Each of these women made incredible music playing their instruments in quite different ways than you normally see.

I think the only other time I've seen Sylvie, aside from maybe one other Mephisto show, was at The Stone with Ben Perowsky. That too was phenomenal.

I definitely need to try to make the 1/3 8pm set. Mark Feldman blew me away at the Masada shows and I always enjoy Ned Rothenberg.

1/3 Thursday (MF)
8 pm
Ned Rothenberg, Mark Feldman and Sylvie Courvoisier
Ned Rothenberg (sax) Mark Feldman (violin) Sylvie Courvoisier (piano)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Fieldwork @ The Stone 12/20/07

I went to The Stone last night for Fieldwork, which was playing all week at 10pm. They said they are going to make a cd today. I’m not sure if they were recording or practicing all week for it. I think it’s great when the drummers lug their own kit down there. They do have a house kit, but it’s getting pretty worn out. Still sounds good, it’s just such a difference when they lug out their own. Tyshawn’s is really, really nice. He even brought his own rug to put under the kit. I think it made a huge difference.

It was definitely fantastic and there were lots of music students/young musicians in the crowd who were there all week. The last couple of songs were really cookin’ and I thought that was especially wonderful. I did feel it was a little lacking at times. I don’t think it was due to the music quality at all, and I was still into it. I think it lacked either some soul or some heart or something. I don’t know why, because I’ve enjoyed each of them in other forms and I couldn’t pick out any individual that was lacking, it just didn’t feel as good as I would think when the music is that good.

Still a good use of $10 and I’m very glad I made it.

Tyshawn Sorey (drums, compositions) Vijay Iyer (piano, compositions) Steve Lehman (saxophone, compositions)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Birland + Crescent Boogaloo + Radio I-Ching + Tonic Idea

I finally made it to Birdland last night. I had this block that it had to be as bad as Blue Note, plus the expense tended to keep me away. I still can’t really tell how it is because I just went to the 5:30 show, which is a little different. It’s a $10 cash cover that goes entirely to the band. They have David Ostwald’s Louis Armstrong Centennial Band every Wed 5:30-7:15. They play 2 sets and there’s no min at the bar, a $10 min at the tables. They’ve had this gig for the past 8 years and mentioned that Birdland is the friendliest jazz club in the city. It did seem kind of friendly, and now I can conclude that the only horrible expensive jazz club in the city is Blue Note. The tables are laid out better with more room and the vibe feels better. The band was pretty good. The clarinet actually played in Louis Armstrong’s Allstars. It was very enjoyable and I have that as an option anytime I’m up there at that time, which is rare. We went to the bar and I had a delicious homemade mint lemonade for $5. Of course, it’s still midtown and a big tourist place. I mean, the cover for the regular show is usually $40, so it’s up there.

After that, we went over to Jazz Standard for Crescent Boogaloo and dinner. I don’t eat there every time I go, and when I do I often just get an app or the pie of the day, so it’s a special treat when I actually have dinner. I would have liked to have gotten there a little earlier, but we tried the subway route, which took longer. So, we were eating in the dark during the performance. Still, it was excellent as usual. I like how they now give you a page with the specials. They always said they had nightly specials, but no one ever told you what they were.

The music was excellent. It was mainly a Dr. Lonnie Smith trio, which started out pretty cool and avant-garde. The drummer was squeaking on the cymbols and Dr. Lonnie Smith was very interesting on the organ. Then, it got more grooving. After a couple of songs, they brought the great Donald Harrison out for a song. He always amazes me. He is truly fantastic and amazingly versatile. The next song they brought Nicholas Payton up, another one of my favorites. He was awesome. I will say I thought Donald brought it a little more, though. The last song had both horns and it was again great.

It was a very satisfying set.

I did decide to run down to Cake Shop on the Lower East Side for Radio I-Ching. I’d never been there. It’s pretty cool, typical of LES. The upstairs is a bakery/coffee shop with music for sale in the back. Downstairs is live music and a bar. Downstairs reminded me of everywhere else: The Delancy, The Annex, etc. I got there in time for the last couple of songs of Iron Dog. That was pretty good. It was a violin, 2 drummers, and a guitar. Radio I-Ching was awesome. I’d only seen them once at Tonic and I have a cd. It’s avant-garde, but appeals more to the masses than other stuff. They do a lot of covers their own way. Andy Haas is awesome on reeds and horns and Don Fiorino plays lots of guitar-type things. Then, they have Dee Pop on drums. It’s really a great band and I’m surprised more people don’t know about them. Dee introduced the show as being “avant-garde dance music”. Oh yeah! I know, it’s all dance music to me, but I love someone else acknowledging it. Although, I’m a little sick of being the only one dancing, so I just moved a little in my chair. I think I have to forget about that and get up again because I feel too stiff sitting there. I’ve been doing it a lot lately and it’s not as fun. I wanted to stay for the next band, since Dee said they were great, but I decided it would be better to get home so I would be tired. I left at about 10:30, at the end of Radio I-Ching’s set.

It also got me thinking about Tonic again. The last I remember, they are still looking for a new location. In the meantime, they are booking some shows at the Abrons Art Center. I got my own ideas about the Tonic people last night. I think it might work better if they don’t worry about getting a new venue and just book their shows at a bunch of LES venues. They can book the big acts at Abrons and then book the other stuff at places like Cake Shop, The Living Theatre, The Annex, etc. I mean, that room was too big for most of the shows I went to. It was often me and 5 other people, occasionally me and 20 other people, and seldomly packed. I didn’t really like it when it was packed or even a little crowded where it was hard to see. I did like the bookings and the fact that they were lax about the rules – they used to let me bring my tea in, etc. I must admit, I like the energy at Angel Orsanz and Clemente Soto much better. I think the experimental/avant-garde scene would be better off with a central booking agency that has a mailing list and access to venues than another “one-size-fits-all” venue. And, we need this in Manhattan. Brooklyn is thriving and there’s plenty of great venues out there and many more popping up. It’s a much kinder place in general. That’s just my current thoughts on the Tonic situation.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Word of the Day: calliope

Sentence: “WHAT other city, after being half-drowned and left to starve, foiled by bureaucracy and attacked by the auto-immune disease of rampant crime, could stagger to its feet to welcome visitors with a platter of oysters on the half shell and a rousing brass band? What place, barely two years after Hurricane Katrina, could provide streetcar rides and impromptu parades, riverboat calliopes and sidewalk tap dancers? When chroniclers look back, the city's ability to be itself — a place that embraces sorrow and joy with equal gusto — in this hardest of times will become part of its legend.” – 12/16/07 New York Times

cal·li·o·pe /[kuh-lahy-uh-pee; for 1 also kal-ee-ohp]
Also called steam organ. a musical instrument consisting of a set of harsh-sounding steam whistles that are activated by a keyboard.

(initial capital letter ) Also, Kalliope. Classical Mythology. the Muse of heroic poetry. Unabridged (v 1.1)Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.

1858, "steam-whistle keyboard organ," in allusion to Calliope, ninth and chief muse of eloquence and epic poetry, from Gk. Kalliope, from kalli-, combining form of kallos "beauty" + opos (gen. of *ops) "voice."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2001 Douglas Harper
calliope n

[L, fr. Gk Kalliope Calliope, the Greek Muse of epic poetry] : a keyboard musical instrument resembling an organ and consisting of a series of whistles sounded by steam or compressed air
Calliope - the Muse of epic poetry; the Muses were nine goddesses whom artists appealed to in order to inspire their works; epicists often called upon the Muse Calliope or another goddess to inspire their works at the beginning of their poems.

Weekend of 12/14

Another nice weekend of music. I played it completely by ear. On Fri I was exhausted and intended to stay in. Then, I figured it couldn’t hurt to catch the 10pm set at The Stone. That would save me from going to bed too early. I had never hear of Scotty Hard, but Billy Martin was playing. That was good enough for me! I did listen to Scotty’s myspace page before going out, but it didn’t matter, Billy Martin.

It was good and quite different. The visuals were interesting, even though it was hard for me to not be looking at Billy the whole time. He is so talented. Scotty plays a laptop and sometimes a guitar and directs Billy. Sebastian was rapping, but in a way I like and not all the time. It was only ½ hour, but very good. The only problem, and it was kind of big problem to me, is that Scotty and Sebastian have this friend who sits in the front row and thinks he’s part of the band. And he sucks. Clapping out of time, making up his own vocals, the whole 9 yards. Quite a bummer. Luckily he seemed to get the vibe that wasn’t appropriate here. I felt like he was interfering with sacred ground, I mean, this is The Stone! I don’t think there is a more serious place. I got the sense that Scotty and Sebastian have to deal with this guy, their friend, every single show they do. Too bad.

Scotty Hard
Sebastian Laws (vocals, visuals) Aron Deyo (visuals) Billy Martin (drums, percussion) Scotty Hard (ringleader)

Sat night I was able to fit in a lot. I started at Jazz Standard for the 7:30 David Sanchez quartet with Lionel Loueke. Lionel played his guitar with just a frame, no insides, just a long neck all night. I’m still intrigued by the guitar thing, but I’m happy to report I found a great book called Guitars that’s going to answer a lot of questions. I love reading books about musical instruments. This one has a lot about the history of US music as well. Anyway, it was excellent and a nice way to start the evening.

The book:

David Sanchez – tenor saxophone
Lionel Loueke – guitar
Orlando Le Fleming - bass
Henry Cole – drums

After that, I chose to go to The Brecht Forum for some kind of Carla Kihlstedt project. Very cool and my favorite show of the night. For the past 8 months or so, she’s been carrying around a tape recording and getting sounds. Last October, she, Shahzad Ismaily, and Matthias Bossi were on an insane European tour with Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. She said they did something like 45 cities in 49 days. After that tour, she decided she wanted to do something with some of those recordings from October with those 2 for this commissioned project from Neues Kabarett. They got some grants and are doing a couple more things soon, one is Anthony Coleman on 1/12 and the other is Rashied Ali on 1/26.

Anyway, they had previously picked out these sounds and then composed music to play along with them and it was fantastic. Everyone’s favorite was when the 3 dogs were barking very rhythmically and what they played on top of that. Carla told us in the Q&A that the dogs were chasing her at the time of taping. It sounded like her favorite was the last tune, with a drunk guy singing by himself on Halloween. There was one part where there were all these geese on the tape and she and Mattias were making sounds with balloons they had blown up. It was really great and very creative. She also sang at times and she has a great voice.

NEUES KABARETTCarla KihlstedtFeaturing the world premiere of the Brecht Forum-commissioned Causing a TigerCarla Kihlstedt (violin, voice) - Shahzad Ismaily (percussion, guitar, bass) -Matthias Bossi (percussion, piano)Carla Kihlstedt is a founding member of Tin Hat Trio and the art-rock band Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. Her solo project, Two Foot Yard, uses both her violin and voice simultaneously. She was one of three singers in the band Charming Hostess for six years. Carla has performed with Awadagin Pratt, Don Byron, Ear Play, the Berkeley Contemporary Chamber Players and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players. She was a featured soloist in NYC's MATA in 2006, was commissioned by Merkin Hall for their emerging composer series, and has contributed to the recordings of Tom Waits, Mr. Bungle and the Grassy Knoll.Admission: $10

I must say, I was surprised to see she was in Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. I went to that Bowery Ballroom show last year to see Secret Chiefs 3 open. They were amazing, but I couldn’t take much of Sleepytime. Part of it was because it was too hipster and they liked the performance which was annoying to me. Some guy with ADD talking non-stop in between each very short song. I didn’t get it.

After that, I went to the Players Theatre Arts Festival at Sullivan and Minetta for the last couple of bands. I caught the end of Fire in July, which had Alan Ferber on trombone and was enjoyable, but not something I’d normally go see. I was really there for the next band, the Alan Ferber Nonet, which was great. Trombone, bass clarinet, tenor, alto/soprano, trumpet, electric guitar, upright bass, drums, and piano. That was nice. They played a song called “North Rampart Street” which reminds me how much I’m itching to get to NOLA.

Sun night, all I needed was the stellar, and I mean stellar William Parker/Gerald Cleaver/Craig Taborn set at The Stone. I was blown away in awe after that set. The room was packed and it was just amazing from start to finish. That was some incredible talent. I was so satisfied I decided to skip the next show of Tyshawn Sorey and Matana Roberts. I’m sure that was excellent, I just didn’t need anymore and wanted to savor that first set for a while.

Overall a very nice weekend.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Butch Morris on Conduction Tues 12/11 @ The Stone

The Butch Morris lecture on conduction was excellent. It started exactly at 10 and went to 11. It was fascinating. He had a bunch of musicians up there, that he said he worked with for 1.5 hours that day and then 1 hour each set. He pioneered notation and gestures for communicating with the musicians and others have taken it and put their own stamp on it. He showed us 5 different meanings of the repeat sign, how he communicates graphically and with signs, how he allows the artists to develop some information and how to give them information in the first place. It was fascinating. We got to ask questions toward the end. Someone was asking him about sampling, because that’s kind of what he was doing with some of the sounds with the musicians. It gave me a lot of insight into how a composition with a conductor still leaves lots of room for improvisation. I know that happens sometimes even when musicians have reading stands in front of them. It was pretty cool and I hope to get to his orchestra at The Stone or Nublu sometime soon.

12/11 Tuesday (GG)8 and 10 pmCONDUCTION 101: Butch Morris on Conduction
Butch Morris (conduction) Kirk Knuffke (trumpet) Tony Barba (clarinet) Christof Knoche (bass clarinet) Michael Attias (alto saxophone) Eivind Opsvik (double bass) Reuben Radding (double bass)
All audience members are encouraged to bring their instruments.

After that, we wanted a little more, and I was off the next day. So, up to Louis 649 for a nice double-sax quartet. Banjo Jim’s sounded good as well, but I opted for Louis anyway.

Here's a little more on Butch Morris. The Wikipedia article does a good job of summing up his technique:

Live Rock on a Small Bankroll - NY Times

December 14, 2007
Cheap Seats
Live Rock on a Small Bankroll

THE name on the marquee was Air Supply, and the line went halfway down the block. It was Saturday night at the B. B. King Blues Club & Grill on 42nd Street in Manhattan, and I had no ticket. But I walked right in.

Snob that I am, I was not there for Air Supply. (Although, in truth, “Lost in Love” gets heavy play on my iPod.) I was there for the band at Lucille’s, a restaurant within B. B. King’s that often has notable blues acts and doesn’t charge for entry. The attraction this night was neither bluesy nor very notable: a pedestrian local covers group. But as I bobbed my head to Bad Company and Black Crowes songs, I couldn’t have been more pleased. I was warm, I was being entertained and I hadn’t paid a dime.

New York is a paradise of live music, but much of it can be discouragingly expensive. Tickets for the major concert halls typically start at $40 or $50 and rocket upward from there. Even in clubs it’s not unusual to pay $25 or $30 to see a hot touring band.

But in a kind of alternate universe for the modestly compensated (and the merely stingy) the city also has a vast network of bars and restaurants that waive a cover charge. At most you may be asked to buy a drink, but as I found in seven nights of budget-conscious concert hopping, waitresses and tip jars can be avoided, if you can bear the guilt. In 27 sets at 22 rooms, I paid a total of $30 for drinks and donations, and only $18 of that was compulsory — a few times I was just thirsty.

If you’re lucky, you might even get that drink free. After B. B. King’s I went to Hill Country, a barbecue restaurant on West 26th Street where the Doc Marshalls, a first-rate Cajun and country band, were celebrating a new album with three rug-cutting sets. At the end of the first, at 11, two waitresses climbed on the bar and asked for attention. It was easily gotten. For a moment I think every man there thought the same two words: “Coyote Ugly.” Instead we were treated to free shots of bourbon, with a request from one of our cowboy-hatted hostesses.
“At the count of three,” she hollered, “I want to hear the biggest Texas ‘yee-haw’ you can muster!”

No yee-haws or any other hoots or yawps were held back a few nights earlier at a show by the Defibulators at the Rodeo Bar on Third Avenue, which styles itself a honky-tonk oasis in Manhattan, with Lone Star beer, peanuts by the basket and free country and rockabilly every night. The Defibulators, from Brooklyn, are quintessential Rodeo Bar. Like a hoedown band from a Warner Brothers cartoon, they played raucous and slightly surreal “whackabilly,” as they describe it, and featured two washboard percussionists, one in crimson long johns, the other in a Viking helmet.

When there is no charge, you sometimes get what you pay for. An “Old Time Jam” at Freddy’s Backroom in Brooklyn was too sparsely attended to live up to the advertised hootenanny. And while I have enjoyed previous editions of Cross Pollination, a series in which two acts perform separately and then collaborate for a third set, an unrehearsed-sounding version of R.E.M.’s “Fall on Me” by Bess Rogers and That Fleeting World fell flat.

But Cross Pollination, Tuesdays at Pianos on the Lower East Side, is an impressive feat of indie gumption. Run by two young musician-promoters, Jay Goettelmann and Wes Verhoeve, it has been going for three and a half years, with some big names passing through — big for the indie universe anyway — like Nicole Atkins, Cloud Cult and Jaymay. (I saw installment No. 169.) Its success owes much to the central financial axiom of gratis entertainment: If you don’t charge, they will come and might even spend more than they would have otherwise.

“It just makes more economic sense,” said Mr. Goettelmann, a St. Louis transplant. “It’s better for the audience. The artists frequently make more money in the tip jar than they would after the venue has taken a cut, and we’ve taken a cut. We frequently make more with our percentage off the bar than we would after we take our cut off a ticket. And the bar is making more off the bar.”

Establishments that don’t charge at the door are dotted throughout the city, but the Lower East Side is the capital. Within two blocks of Pianos — which usually has paid shows in its main space but free events upstairs — there are 10 or so such bars. Expand the radius a bit and you have dozens of choices. The Living Room is the Bottom Line of this sphere, packing in four or five singer-songwriters a night. With a similar average of sweaty rock bands, Arlene’s Grocery is the no-cover CBGB.

Wandering from gig to gig I was repeatedly reminded of the embarrassment of musical riches in New York available literally for nothing. At the 55 Bar, a Prohibition-era sliver in Greenwich Village, Julie Hardy, a breezy young jazz singer, announced that she had written lyrics to a Wayne Shorter song. Then she added, “Wayne Shorter approved my lyrics,” and began “Song of the Iris.”

One frigid night on Avenue C I was too early for a set by Eli Degibri at the cozy Louis 649, so I ducked into Banjo Jim’s across the street. There Terry Waldo, a pianist and historian who studied with Eubie Blake, was presiding over a leisurely ragtime musicale.

That night my wallet never left my pocket. But it’s not always so easy, and no cover doesn’t necessarily mean free. Many clubs, like the Living Room and the nearby Rockwood Music Hall, have a one-drink minimum per set, and even at places that never charge a cover, like the Lakeside Lounge on Avenue B, musicians often pass the hat. They all deserve to make a living of course.

A few lessons learned: First, the more crowded the club, the easier it is to hide from the wait staff. This was evident at an early set at the Zinc Bar on West Houston Street, where I was the third person present, after the bartender and the performer: no way to avoid buying a drink there. Second, sitting at a table is the international sign of willingness to order. And third, waitresses will not forget if you promise to get something later.

For any veteran concertgoer tired of the familiar club circuit, seeking out free shows can be like rediscovering live music in New York. One of the best performances I saw was an appearance at the East Village record store Other Music by Tinariwen, an African guitar band that put the tightly packed crowd into a wonderful state somewhere between trance and dance. (A video of that show will be posted on Dec. 28 on the store’s Web site, Sound Fix, an indie record store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, also has a live series — free of course — in a spacious bar in the back.

The strangest location of all, though, I almost missed. I spotted a listing for Joel Frahm, a saxophonist whose records I like but whom I’d never seen, at an unfamiliar place, “The Salon at Arthur’s IP,” on East 13th Street. Clutching the address, I wandered up and down 13th Street and was about to give up when I noticed a jazz trio playing in the window of Arthur’s Invitations and Prints, a stationery shop.

Turns out it wasn’t Mr. Frahm, who has been playing there once a month for the last year or so but couldn’t make it that night. Filling in was John Ellis, another saxophonist, and as I wandered the sales floor, pretending to browse through the Christmas cards and wrapping papers, I enjoyed 20 minutes of surprisingly intimate music.

Speaking by telephone this week, as he prepared for his regular Tuesday-night show at the Bar Next Door on Macdougal Street in Greenwich Village (cover charge: $8), Mr. Frahm — who has recorded with Brad Mehldau and played at places far more illustrious than Arthur’s — explained the benefits of the engagement. Each musician gets $100; it’s a relaxed atmosphere; and it’s early enough that he can easily fit in another show the same night, he said.
“And if you’re a jazz musician in New York City,” he added, “a gig’s a gig.”
But for a fan, it’s just a little sweeter when it’s free.

Masada + William Parker + Vijay Iyer + Bonerama

I went to both Masada shows at Abrons Art Center last weekend. They were both phenomenal. On Fri night, I walked in at 8pm and ended up in the front row center seat. That was great, even though I couldn’t see Ribot that well because of the monitor. Still, it was fun to watch Zorn conducting and I felt it was fitting since that’s my usual seat at The Stone. Of course, this was a lot bigger than The Stone, and the seats were comfier. This is the venue where Tonic is booking some shows until they find a new spot. It’s quite different from Tonic.

Both nights were stellar from start to finish. Fri night, while they were all stellar, I thought that Mark Feldman and Marc Ribot stood out even more. They did a 1 hour set and then a half hour encore so they could try out some of the new stuff for the very first time. Just amazing.

I went to the Living Theatre after that for William Parker and Fred Anderson. That was truly amazing as well. They didn’t want to stop and I think played for about 1.5 hours. It was just awesome improvised avant-garde stuff.

Sat night I got something like the 3rd row and could see everyone well. Marc Ribot was hitting the notes in a way that made me shiver. It was even better than the night before. They only did 1 song for the encore, but Zorn had mentioned how great these musicians are to be able to play this new stuff in a day. I figured what he meant was they only tried out some of it the night before and perhaps did a practice run that day.

Those 2 Masada shows might be the best music I’ve seen all year, or at least up there at the top of the list.

The listing:
Experience two special and joyous holiday celebrations featuring the most popular band in John Zorn's ever-widening Masada Family. Bar Kokhba is a fabulous sextet for strings and percussion that takes the Jewish tradition into the twenty first century with beautiful, flamboyant music touching on exotica, surf, jazz, klezmer and more. Featuring the virtuosic Masada String Trio of Mark Feldman, Erik Friedlander and Greg Cohen joined by guitar wizard Marc Ribot, the gifted Brazilian percussionist Cyro Baptista and jazz great Joey Baron on drums, this is delightful and extraordinary music for the whole family. Friday evening's performance includes classic compositions from the best selling CD The Circle Maker (Masada Book One). Saturday evening features the world premiere of new compositions from Zorn's Book of Angels (Masada Book Two).

On Sat, I then ended up at The Stone, since it ended in time, for Vijay Iyer Trio. That was fantastic from start to finish. I sat in the other front row, right behind the piano. It was wonderful and there were a couple more people in my little row moving to the music with me.

Vijay Iyer (piano) Stephan Crump (bass) Marcus Gilmore (drums)

Then it was on to Lion’s Den for Bonerama. I love them, but I find I have to pace myself and not see them too often. It was a lot of fun to see everyone and get down for a bit. I do believe Howie has made a big effort to make that place better and it has improved somewhat. It’s still not one I’m crazy about, though. I had to leave a little early because I just didn’t want to be there any longer. Of course, he’s booking too many must see shows there, so I will be back in the next couple of months and learn how to live with it.

Overall a very enjoyable weekend. I didn’t do music on Sun, but did visit a friend in Brooklyn, and realize it’s pretty close and I have to start getting to Barbes a little more. Hopefully soon.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Freestyle Jazz @ Jimmy's No. 43

Here's the upcoming schedule since they haven't updated the website. I emailed Dee Pop and asked to be put on the mailing list.

Dee Pop presents: The Freestyle Creative Music Series
EVERY SUNDAY @ Jimmy’s Restaurant
43 East 7th Street • NYC • 212-982-3006

December 9th
7pm Harris Eisenstadt Quartet withSara Schoenbeck, Jason Hwang, Ken Filiano
9pm Daniel Levin Quartetwith Rob Brown, Ingebrigt Haker Flaten, Michael Evans

December 16th
7pm Steve Swell trio with Rob Brown & Daniel Levin cello9pm Joe Fiedler trio with John Hebert & Mike Sarin drumsDecember 23rd7pm Bruce Eisenbeil/Andrew Drury
9pm Audrey Chen/ Katt Hernandez

December 30th
7pm Nate Wooley quartetwith Andrea Parkins, Trevor Dunn, Ches Smith
9pm Dave Ballou's "For Brass"with Nate Wooley, Ben Gerstein, Jacob Garchik

7PM - Reuben Radding, Jacob Wick, Andrew Greenwald
9PM Jason Hwang's EDGE with Taylor Ho Bynum, Andrew Drury, Ken Filiano

7PM - CRACKLEKNOB: Mary Halvorson, Reuben Radding, Nate Wooley
9PM - Jack Wright, Mike Pride, Brandon Seabrook

7PM - Ben Holmes Quintet w/ Karen Waltuch, Bob Bowen, Reut Regev,Judith Berkson, Vinny Sperrazza
9PM - Andrew Drury Quartet with Peter Evans, Briggan Krauss, Chris Speed

7PM - Harris Eisenstadt, Thomas Heberer, Reuben Radding, Nate Wooley
9PM - Kris Davis & Jeff Davis Duo

Most shows $10 door entire eveningGreat and reasonably priced food & Large Selection of gourmet Beer on tap

Friday, December 7, 2007

Niamh Hyland @ Parkside Lounge

I finally got a chance to see my friend, Niamh Hyland (pronounced “Neve”) sing last night. I knew she was very talented and had a deep, bluesy voice. I knew because I have heard her start singing along to music in a bar once. But, seeing her perform on stage was great. She’s a skinny white Irish girl with a big black soulful voice.

There was a lot of talent last night, all from her workplace. They were doing a benefit for Lula, a dog one of her coworkers adopted who now has cancer. There were comedians, singers, one small band. One guy originally from TX sang a Marc Broussard song. It was all well done. I hope they collected more from others who didn’t show, because I don’t see how they got much more than $500 from the attendance. It think they said the vet bills are expected to be about $10k.

It was a cool concept. They had it at Parkside Lounge and they just had to make sure they hit a drink minimum.

Anyway, this hopefully got Niamh back into pursuing a music career. She seemed to be the big hit amidst all that talent.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Help Save Johnny Vidacovich's House

All I can say is that I recall how little I’ve paid to see this master drummer over the years. See Stanton Moore's Message below.
Hello fans of great music,

I'm writing to you to ask for your help in helping out my mentor, teacher and good friend Johnny Vidacovich. Johnny and his wife Deborah's house is in need of major repairs and they are in need of financial help. To compound matters, Johnny is developing arthritis in his right thumb. I want to keep him from having to play every single gig that comes his way so that the arthritis doesn't get worse. This is the house that I learned my most important musical lessons in. This is also the house that Kevin O'day, Brian Blade and many other great drummers learned in. Johnny is one of the most unique drummers in the world and is a New Orleans treasure.So I want to help them in as many was as I can by letting as many people as I know that:

- Johnny will be teaching lessons at the house for the next few weeks at a discounted rate of $75 an hour- You can book the lessons with Deborah via email at
- You can make a donations to the Vidacovich cause by mailing a check made out to Johnny Vidacovich to 4816 Bienville St. New Orleans, LA 70119
- You can make a donation online below!

Dave Douglas @ The Village Vanguard 12/4/07

I went to the Village Vanguard last night for the Dave Douglas Quintet. It was my first time seeing him and it was excellent. Very lively and really, just great. I thought they were all excellent. I was surprised the one that stood out the most was the keyboard player, who was not Uri Caine as listed on their website. James Genus wasn’t there, either, but the bass player was good. I know they had the correct lineup in the advertisement in the Dec All About Jazz.

Dec 04 - Dec 09DAVE DOUGLAS QUINTETDonny McCaslin-sax, Eric Revis-fender rhodes, Orrin Evans-b, Clarence Penn-d

I also loved the drummer, Clarence Penn. The horns were stellar, as expected.

It was very lively. Even the ballads were lively.

I got a new appreciation of the Vanguard last night. I decided to sit closer, and it wasn’t super crowded. It had such a wonderful feeling. I was able to groove in my seat and just enjoy everything. The last few times I’ve gone, I tend to sit in the very back so I can get up and dance. They have no problem with that. As a matter of fact, the last time I was there was for Christian McBride, the late set after the Ron Carter thing at Carnegie Hall. It was really grooving and I was the only one dancing. I almost died when Christian mentioned he was so glad to see someone dancing, even if it wasn’t to the beat, and was trying to get others to get up. It didn’t work, but I was able to melt back into the background again after that.

I often don’t like it up front if it’s really tight. But, last night, I realized just how great that place is and how lucky we are to have it. I love that it’s in the basement, unpretentious, and they always treat me nicely when I go. Sure, nothing tops the treatment at Jazz Standard, and Iridium does have a little bit nicer people, but The Vanguard is really nice for a hot tourist spot. At one point, Dave Douglas mentioned Mavis something that I never heard of and asked Lorraine if she ever played there. The answer was no, but then he commented on how great the room is and how many great people have played there. I really felt it in that moment.

I love how it’s cash only and the $35 cover includes $10 worth of drinks. I just love it there, period.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Liberty Ellman @ The Stone 12/1/07

I only made it to 1 hour of live music last weekend. It was a good one, though. It was the 8pm Sat show at The Stone, the very first set of Vijay Iyer’s curating. It was a nice way to start.

Liberty Ellman/Brandon Ross QuartetLiberty Ellman (guitar) Brandon Ross (guitar) Brad Jones (bass) Damion Reid (drums)

It was basically spacey, psychedelic type jazz. It reminded me of Project Z, maybe a little mellower. I really enjoyed the set and thought they were all great. They said they did a Duke Ellington song, but I don’t remember anything from him being so spacey. I assume they put their own spin on it.

I’m listening to the Project Z cd right now. I really like this, too: