Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Upcoming: Big Jazz Night @ The Knit 12/2

I'm looking forward to the big Search & Restore final night at The Knit. This is by no means the final night for Search & Restore or The Knit, but it is for that combo. Its 6 phenomenal bands with staggered overlapping sets between the Tap Bar and Main Space, 12/2, 8:30-12. Its also cheap and they hand-stamp. Even if you are going to some of the other phenomenal gigs that night, its worth ducking in and out of there for any gaps in the rest of your schedule.

Here's the schedule:

Search & Restore: Jazz In New York presents...

The FINAL NIGHT of Jazz and Improvised Music at the Knitting Factory!!
2 stages, 6 ensembles, 40 musicians!!!

The Knitting Factory is closing the doors of its TriBeCa location at the top of the new year, and planning to move to Williamsburg at some undisclosed time in the future.

On Tuesday, December 2, we'll pay tribute to the legacy of Downtown improvised music associated with the Knit, with a special showcase featuring literally tens of New York's finest musicians.

Each ensemble will perform for 1 hour, with overlapping sets between the Knit's Main Space (upstairs) and the Tap Bar (downstairs):

ANDREW D'ANGELO / CURTIS HASSELBRING BIG BAND 9pm Main Space(with Tony Barba, Josh Sinton, Elizabeth Schenck, Josh Roseman, Ryan Snow, Eric Biondo, Nate Wooley, Jacob Wick, Jonathan Goldberger, Chris Lightcap, Jim Black)

PETE ROBBINS' SILENT Z 9:30pm Tap Bar(with Jesse Neumann, Mike Gamble, Eivind Opsvik, Ted Poor)

STEVEN BERNSTEIN'S MILLENNIAL TERRITORY ORCHESTRA 10pm Main Space(NYC CD Release Tour with Clark Gayton, Charlie Burnham, Doug Wieselman, Peter Apfelbaum, Erik Lawrence, Matt Munisteri, Ben Allison, Kenny Wollesen)

JAMES CARNEY GROUP 10:30pm Tap Bar(with Josh Roseman, Chris Lightcap, Ted Poor)

TODD SICKAFOOSE'S BLOOD ORANGE 11pm Main Space(with Jenny Scheinman, John Ellis, Alan Ferber, Mike Gamble, Michael Chorney, Allison Miller)

8 PM doors, All Ages$15, $12 students

The Knitting Factory
74 Leonard St
TriBeCa, Manhattan

Aethereal Bace and Drew Gress’ Jagged Sky @ Tap Bar 11/25/08

For my last show before the holiday I went to the Search and Restore gig at The Knit. This Tap Bar show was the only thing going on over there. There were many other options, but Nasheet Waits in one band and Kenny Wollensen in another and the inexpensiveness of it all made this the one for me.

I got there at around 8:40 and Aethereal Bace was already on. The probably came on at 8:30 because they ended at 9:30, so I got a good set. I really love this band consisting of 2 drummers and a sax. This is one of my current favorites. They were just as awesome as the last time I saw them.

I was also reflecting how the 1st time I noticed Nasheet Waits was at a winter Jazzfest at The Knit. Ever since then, I seek him out and get to as many of his gigs as I can. I'm a little surprised to see it was actually Aethereal Bace at the 2008 Winter Jazzfest - I didn't even know! Yup, my new favorite band and one of my favorite drummers. Its a good choice because he's involved in many different projects. (OOOH YEAH - I just saw that Winter Jazzfest will be at 3 West Village venues, including Le Poisson Rouge this year. I'll just let it go that on eof them is Sullivan Hall, it's not so bad anymore since I went there 3 nights in a row).

The next band was quite special. They haven't played together for 10 years. Drew Gress, Kenny Wollensen, Ben Monder, and Dave Binney. Hopefully, this is the start of them playing at least every now and then. They were awesome. The Tap Bar always brings loud drinkers back by the bar, its just the way it is. To get away from the chatter, I had to go sit down in the front row. Thank you loudmouths! It was really nice up there. They have a lot of seats out there for the Search & Restore shows. Before I had been dancing in the space between the sound guy and the seats, which technically was the aisle. Fortunately, it was just me or they might have made me move if more followed.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Parkins/Waterman/Watson /Smith @ The Stone 11/23/08

I was a little afraid when I saw the bagpipes and realized I didn't have earplugs with me. I saw them last minute and I was pretty interested to see this, so I decided to stay and give it a chance.

I'm glad I did. It turns out there ARE ways to make bagpipes quieter, Watson had various corks and stoppers and even a plastic cup. He did get loud at times, and so did everyone else. I never thought it was painfully loud, like that last time I saw bagpipes at The Stone.

This show was awesome. I was front and center, with a very direct view to Waterman. I found my main attention was mainly on him, with just some peripheral attention on the amazingness of everyone else. It was so interesting to watch him. He was making a lot of noise with the cello and various pedals. All kinds of interesting things, like blowing into the F-Holes and numerous other ways of playing this very old instrument.

Now, I was focused on each of the others at various times, Waterman just took up more of my attention time-wise.

This was the first time I noticed Ches's extra large, extra-flat silver cymbal. I feel like it is probably usually there, I just didn’t register it. He gave it a lot of attention during one part of the 1st long, very intense piece.

There were a couple of points where Andrea reminded me of Skerik when she was playing the accordion. She had a lot of pedals and one made similar sounds to what Skerik sometimes does in Garage a Trois. She also blew me away at one point with this sound that I can’t describe, but it was very low, somewhat like a bass, but also very different. She was mainly on the laptop with electronics adjunct and that was quite interesting.

After the long amazing, very intense piece, they decided to do one more short and delicate piece. The bagpipes started it off. He had all the pipes stopped up and it was very interesting to see that it mainly was an air sound. He eventually had some off, some on and I was very intrigued with him.

I’m glad I made it to that. These 2 weeks curated by Jennifer Charles are very interesting.

Andrea Parkins
Andrea Parkins (laptop, electric accordion) Alex Waterman (cello) David Watson (bagpipes, electronics) Ches Smith (drums, percussion)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Jacofest @ Iridium 11/21/08

Iridium is doing 4 nights of Jacofest, which celebrates Jaco Pastorius, one of the greatest bassists of all time. This was put together by Kenwood Dennard, who plays drums and keyboards. It looks like each set would be very different. Many people on Fri stayed over at Iridium from the first set for an additional $10 minimum.

There were a lot of people up there. In addition to Dennard, there was an Indian singer, Falu, Delmar Brown on synthesizer, pianos, keyboard that you strap on, etc., Lew Soloff on trumpet, David Gilmore on guitar, Matt Garrison on bass, Miles Evans on trumpet (Soloff referred to him as "the shredder"), Alex Foster and Butch Thomas on sax, and David Bargeron on trombone and tuba. There was another bassist up there as well.

Kenwood told us he put words to some of the songs. Being anti-singer, I wasn't too thrilled with that. If it didn't have vocals before, it certainly doesn't need them now. But, Falu sounded good singing with them, she has a nice voice. I didn't like it when Kenwood sang, I doubt he's really a singer. It wasn't as annoying as it often is for me, because we had plenty of great musicians up there and very little singing in general.

After the first piece, which was pretty grooving, it got more grooving. I had to get up and dance for a while, over by the wait station, but not in anyone's way. I was so very glad I did get up because at some point Delmar came out and played in the crowd with his keyboard. I really don't like that, so I'm glad I wasn't down there for it. That was also the only time he did it, during that period I was up in the back dancing. Whew.

Then, everyone leaves the stage and they announce Charnet Moffett is coming out to play the Star Spangled Banner. Yeah!!!! I really wanted to see him, and I got to! He did not disappoint. He did a duo with Kenwood. This was the experimental portion of the show and it was awesome. Charnet didn't want to leave and I was certainly happy about that. After a very long jam, Bargeron came back up and played tuba with them and it was awesome. Then the tenor came back up. They did something else. Charnet realized he had to give up his spot back to Garrison, so he did.

Then Bergeron did something on trombone with his daughter on flute. It was great. It was still pretty grooving even though it wasn't as intense.

Then they added T.M. Stephens to the mix, who was very P-funky. He also had a great singing voice. That's when we started P-Funking It Up. TM had us all up dancing, which I was very happy about. I didn't have to move.

Next, the core large band did something great, more rockish I think.

Then, David Gilmore has to leave, it's after 12 now. Charnet wants to play and everyone helps him get up there because we all want Charnet to play, especially the bandmates. It did take a while every time to change bassists for some reason. There was always an issue with getting sound.

While Charnet was getting plugged in they did a quick great thing. Right before that, they were told they had to wrap it up and make it quick. I'm happy to say they didn't listen all that well.

They finished up with Havana.

It was an awesome 1.5 hour Fest. Now I know why they were calling it Jaco"fest" and not "tribute show" or something. I also want to mention I love what Matt Garrison was doing playing the arm of his bass. He is very talented as was everyone up there. Oh, and Charnet knew Jaco when he was 14 and they used to play basketball together. He said Jaco was one of the nicest people ever.

As a disclaimer, I'm a little mixed up and really don't remember exactly how it went down. That's the jist of it, but I'm sure I'm forgetting things.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Improv Night @ The Stone 11/21/08

I went to the 1st set. I knew it was going to be heavy on the electronics, and that I might not be that into it. Still, I was interested to see people I never heard of.

It started at maybe 8:05ish. Okkyung Lee asked Mattin who he wanted to play with besides her for the 1st piece. He decided to go with Carlos Giffoni because he's familiar with him. I found I had trouble appreciating Mattin's electronics. I think its just something I'm not ready for yet. Carlos was a little more to my liking, but the laptop was a little too intrusive for me. It reminded me of something going wrong with the tv and having to turn it off because the foreign sounds are too intrusive. The piece did get more enjoyable for me a little later. I enjoyed Okkyung throughout the piece.

Next was a trumpet duo with Nate Wooley and Thomas Heberer. That was awesome. I'm interested in the difference in their trumpets and whether Thomas had an extra valve. I now see he was playing a quarter tone trumpet. Nate was playing a regular trumpet, so I could get an idea of the differences. Of course, they both play them in unique and atypical ways, so I just got a little flavor of the differences. I think Nate had a different trumpet for the grand finale,and it looked more like the quarter tone trumpet, but I'm not sure.

I loved the next one. I think it was all-Jewish because Zorn made Cyro come up because he had a qualifying nose. It might have been all the Jewish musicians up there and the music had a Jewish flair. Brian Chase was on drums and Shanir Blumenkranz was on bass. There was also a male vocalist. This one was especially great and probably the shortest.

Then came the 2 trumpets, Chase on drums, and Carlos. I liked that. It gave me a chance to distinguish between Carlos and the Mattin from the 1st piece. The drummer also started playing electonics in the middle of the piece. He abandoned the kit after that.

The pieces were longer than last week, and they started a few minutes late. Therefore, it was time for the grand finale already. Everyone except the vocalist for 10 minutes. That was awesome and took a different route than the earlier electronic pieces. Cyro, Shanir, and Zorn made it work better. I think I just needed more instruments than in the 1st piece.

It was fun and different. I'm probably a babystep closer to appreciating the electronics more in the future.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Annie Gosfield Trio @ The Stone 11/20/08

This was great! I had no idea what to expect, but I definitely didn't expect this! It was great, completely different and new music.

I've seen Annie around at shows, but I don't think I've ever seen her play. I don't think I've seen Roger Kleier either. You probably know I can't enough of Ches Smith. I also have found that anyone he plays with is worthy of high accolades. I would love to go to the 10pm set, which must be starting around now, Oscar Noriega, Ches Smith and Mary Halverson. But, I don't think I can stay up late given my late night last night. So, I opted for the early set with people I'm less familiar with.

It started out improvised, pretty out there music. It wasn't until late in the piece that Ches started playing the drums at all. He was playing the cymbals and the congs and some interesting things out of his stash. Everyone started off a little wierd, meaning atypical, but brilliant. They also meshed very well together. It sounded great and I was glad to be there.

Annie definitely has her own electronic/keyboard thing going on. It's quite different from what anyone else is doing and really great. Roger has some interesting ways of playing the guitar, which in iteself is a little different. I keep thinking I must have seen him before because the stickers on his guitar case look familiar. I just can't remember.

I think it was just one improvised piece. The 2nd piece might have been as well. That started out mellow and then became really rocking. Ches got into this amazing groove that hooked me right in. The whole thing reminded me a little of that 60's style avant-garde way of jamming with a sax trio that I still see a lot. But, it was also way different than that, much more unique. I was getting more and more happy I came.

The next 3 (I think it was 3) were compositions by Annie and they were phenomenal. Even though there were only about 6 paying customers, I didn't want to get up and dance, but I sure felt like it. I now need to look into her CDs.

I'm so glad I went and I'm so glad to discover something completely different.

Annie Gosfield Trio
Annie Gosfield (keyboards) Ches Smith (drums, percussion) Roger Kleier (electric guitar)

Widespread Panic @ Irving Plaza 11/19/08

I wanted to go, but I didn’t have a ticket. I also didn’t want to waste a lot of energy looking for a ticket. My intuition said “email Scott and I’ll get a ticket”. I emailed him as my one and only try, and sure enough, he had an extra. Yeah! We met at the venue at 7:30 and waited in line for the Will Call tickets. But, there was a problem and they said the tickets were mailed to Scott. There was no doubt, we were going in, we just had to get this resolved. I am very impressed with how relatively quick the resolution was. We had to go back outside and call Live Nation ticketing. They then made sure the tickets weren’t used and got them reissued under will call. Then, the box office girl went downstairs to get the tickets. There was even the wrinkle that there 2 Scott’s with the same last name going to the show. Still, we were in there by around 8:02pm, just when Bill Graham and I think his son were giving the Foundation speech. I just don’t see that happening with TicketMaster.

I was surprised to see they were selling tickets at the box office. Once upstairs, I saw it was oversold, very crowded. Bummer. Still, I got my spot and waited. They were scheduled to come on at 8:15, but it was closer to 8:30. In that time, it got too crowded, even though I was towards the back and I bailed on my spot, which was to the left of the soundboard but not under the balcony ceiling. The sound is terrible under the ceiling. I ended up finding a spot outside the door, where I could hear pretty well, see something, and have a little room to dance. I was enjoying it over there. Occasionally, I would go into the room for a bit, just inside the door, where it sounded even better and I could see a little better.

The 1st set was OK. I was disappointed, but I kept thinking it would get really great the 2nd set. There were a few better points, but they kept bringing it up a notch for a song and then immediately killing the vibe with a downer song right after. None of it was bad, but it also wasn’t that great, except for some of the more up songs. Then, it started turning and getting good. I think it was for the Henry Parsons > Green Onions > Henry Parsons, but I’m not 100% sure. All I remember was I was starting to get blown away by Jimmy at some point around that time. I was getting happy it was finally taking off. Then, it just died for the next song. I took a break. Pigeons and Ain’t Life Grand were better. I also by then found a space up front and it was way better being up there. The space I found wasn’t too crowded or I wouldn’t have been able to take it. I decided to hang out up there for setbreak.

I had a fun setbreak. The people were nice if not a little harsh in some cases. It was the vibe that was doing it to some of them, it was just too crowded and the music hadn’t hit amazing yet (except for that one part of the 1st set). They were doing their best to enjoy themselves and let things be, it was just hard.

It took a long time for them to start the 2nd set. By the time they did, I could only stay up there for a couple of songs due to the crowdedness. However, this was now the show we came to see! It got really good! The whole band seemed to be together on the greatness, but Jimmy and Dave Schools were blowing me away the whole set. The word that kept coming up to describe the set and Schools was “monster”. It was a monster badass set with a monster bass player and a jaw-dropping guitar player.

I had gone back to my spot just outside and inside the door, I was mainly inside. I had to go to the bathroom, but I couldn’t leave that music. I was willing to hold it til the end of the night if I had to. Then, I got a little spot to go. It was still good, but I could tear myself away for a moment. It was long enough to pee and get a drink. It was at a high level at my breaktime, but it went right back to the higher level right after that. It stayed that way til the end.

I noticed people were starting to leave. I was surprised because the show was too good. I guess they’d had enough of the crowd. I knew this meant I would soon be back up front, which I was. I had enough room and it was very nice up there. There was something extra special about seeing them up close on a small stage.

I got even closer up front towards the end of the monster 2nd set that was over 1.5 hours long. I guess it started at a little after 10:30 and went til 12:15ish. The whole thing ended at around 12:40.

If you think of the first set as the opening band, it was an incredible show! I’m so happy I got to be there.

Ah, here’s the info I was looking for:
11.19.08 The Filmore at Irving Plaza New York 8:00 EST
Set 1: (67 mins) (8:35pm) Heroes > Disco > Angels on High , Smokin Factory > Fixin to Die > Henry Parsons > Green Onions > Henry Parsons > Dark Day Program , Pigeons , Ain't Life Grand * (9:42pm)
Set 2: (95 mins) (10:32pm) Space Wrangler , North > Smokestack Lightning >jam > Protein Drink > Sewing Machine, Let's Get the Show on the Road > Airplane > Under Radar Jam > Papa's Home , Holden Oversoul > Conrad (00:07)
Encore: (00:17) Expiration Day , Pilgrims , Goin Out West (0038)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Mama Afrika Tribute @ LPR 11/16/08

Ok, so I hadn’t heard of Miriam Makeba until now. That seems to happen a lot. I was either busy studying for 9 years and didn’t get out as much or I stay away from large venues or I just got into jazz in more recent years or something I haven’t thought of. Regardless, I knew this tribute show was the place to be and it would be a good way to find out about Miriam and her greatness. I know she’s great based on the lamentations of her recent passing going around the internet. I also realized this is a good opportunity to see some great people play I may never get to see otherwise.

The ticket/donation was only $20 and the entire proceeds will be donated to the Sauti Yetu: Center for African Women in Miriam’s honor. I think they said it’s for African women in NYC, but I’m not 100% sure.

I got there at just about 8 and it was pretty full. They had the jazz setup, with communal tables and chairs, and this time there were many people standing around the perimeter. I knew I wasn’t going to any African thing and sitting, so I stayed back and didn’t even try to see if there was 1 seat left.

A DJ was spinning while the room continued to fill up. After a while, they started playing music that I assume was Miriam’s, giving me an idea of what she was about. The thing that kept coming up for me was Nina Simone, in her later period. I saw Doug Wamble with Steven Bernstein at Jazz Gallery a while back and they did a Nina Simone song. The way Steven looked when they mentioned it inspired me to run over to J&R the next day and get myself a 3 cd greatest hits type set to explore her music a bit. I preferred the very soulful stuff in her later period the most. That’s what Miriam reminded me of.

It started at around 8:37 with a clip of Miriam on film singing. Then it went on, but the DVD just stopped. It was unclear if they meant to show us more and there was a technical difficulty, or if it was intended to stop there. It was more likely the former as it took a little bit for the next part to start.

There was a lot of very soulful singing, and some great jazz/world/blues type music. It was awesome. I was loving it.

People kept talking about the album and tour “Graceland”. I find out she was really the 1st African woman singer that made it. She touched all of Africa, not just South Africa where she’s from. She came to the US and started playing The Village Vanguard. She also played a lot at The Village Gate. I found that out when they had Art, the old owner of The Village Gate there to speak. I found out from Harry Belefonte how he saw her sing and when he met her he told her she’s awesome, but what we really need is for her to sing African-inspired music, not American jazz. He said he would help her, and he did.

Then, after that, as if it isn’t enough, out comes Paul Simon to do 3 songs and tell us a little about the Graceland tour with Miriam. I was shocked and never thought I’d ever see him, especially in such a small space. That was pretty cool.

Later, Randy Weston came out and blew me away. I don’t think he was playing with his usual trio, but I do think it was one his songs, or something I know anyway. It was phenomenal. I was very into it.

Then, Steve Turre came out and did a shell solo that was great.

I think there was one more jazz number with a bunch of people at about 11:15 or so. I left during that since it was the last tune and I was pretty happy.

I’ve been listening to a few things on youtube of her. I think I’ll have to pick up some recordings for my collection.

It was beautiful to see all the artists she inspired and the tribute was lovely and very tastefully done.

Randy Weston
Blue Nefertiti (Celia of Les Nubians)
Gino Sitson
Wunmi Bakithi & Robbi Khumalo
Francis Mbappe
Jacques Schwarz Bart
Tony Cedras
Jojo Kuo
Loide Jorge
Bill Salter
Leopoldo Fleming

Special Guests:
Remarks by Harry Belafonte & Art D'Lugoff
Plus South African DJ Eddie Ed

Improv Night Part II 11/15/08

I got there at 9:54 and Ikue Mori, Silvie Courvoisier and John Zorn were already into the 1st piece. It was great and I made a mental note to get there earlier on Improv Night (again).

Then we get the incredible Eric Friedlander, Adam Rudolph, Ches Smith and Trevor Dunn. This, of course, speaks for itself.

Then, right after that piece, Zorn comes up and shakes their hands on his way out and says "see you in a bit". Aha, they stared extra extra early so he could play. I have no idea where he had to be. We did get Jim Staley as an add-in for the rest of the night.

Then its Eyal Maoz, Ches Smith, and Trevor Dunn. If I recall, this was pretty experimental.

Next its Ikue, Sylvie, and that lap guitar again. I need to know this guys name. I really like him and I missed his name the 1st set, I was too worried about Friedlander getting a chair for the grand finale, I missed Zorn introducing everyone and no one introduced at the end of this set.

Now we get an Ikue/Staley duo that was great.

Then a great Adam Rudolph, Ches Smith, Trevor Dunn trio. Very nice!

Next, Scott Johnson and Eyal Maoz come up and Scott tells Ches and Trevor they have to stay because there's gonna be some wild guitar playing. You got that right! They rocked it! Or, should I say avant-rocked it! That was killer and these 4 should put something together.

Now, Adam was also offered the opportunity to stay for the last piece and he quickly and politely declined. We heard everyone downstairs give the awesome avant rock band accolades and then Adam say "we now have to do something quiet." I'm happy to say they didn't end up being quiet. Of course they were quieter, and great.

The last piece before the grand finale was with Ches, Staley, Dunn, and Sylvie. That was a nice setup.

Then, the grand finale was amazing. Eric Friedlander was sitting right in the middle of everyone, and he started it off. Oh my! He set the way for something really brilliant to come out. Everyone was feeding off of each other in an amazing way. It was insane.

Improv Night Part I 11/15/08

Note: I wrote this in between sets, which is a good thing or I wouldn’t remember anything.

This was one of my favorites. I must go to the 2nd set.

It started with Sylvie Courvoisier on piano, Ches Smith on drums, Trevor Dunn on bass and John Zorn on sax. Sylvie had the piano all set up, with the balls and whatnot already placed on the strings. It was great, improvised, somewhat "out there" music.

Next was Ikue Mori on laptop, Erik Friedlander on cello and Adam Rudolph on percussion. I want to be able to sit behind Ikue some day. I'm very curious how she does it, and what those sounds are about. I love it. Adam had a table set up with singing bowls, gongs lying flat on the table, some blocks and a few other interesting things. He had a very beautiful small xylophone type thing that I wish I had gone up to get a better look at later. Friedlander is so phenomenal. His playing was very soulful for this piece.

After that was the 3 guitars. I see The Stone lists Scott Johnson, who I must have seen before but can’t remember. There was again that lap guitar player I think is great, but don’t know his name yet. I saw him at a previous Improv Night. They fit very well together.

Next up was a Courvoissier/Friedman duo. Have I ever seen that before??!! Someone should curate that in some time for a whole set. Actually, Zorn had come up with them and then decided last minute they didn't need a sax. I'm sure it would have been great with him, but I'm glad he opted out. It was stellar.

After that was Ches Smith, Trevor Dunn, Eyal Maoz and Scott Johnson. Those guitars really are great together.

Then it was Ikue Mori, Adam Rudolph, John Zorn, and the lap guitar. At one point, Adam had me mesmerized with a repetitive rhythm he had going on with the congs.

Next up was an awesome Friedman/Dunn duo. It started out very "out there" and ended slightly more down to Earth.

Then it was time for the grand finale with all 10 of them. That was phenomenal. It went a littler long because Scott Johnson, Eyal Maoz and Adam Rudolph got into a zone together. Then it was just the Eyal and Scott until Zorn had to tap Eyal to tell him its time to stop.
I can't wait until the next set!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Reuban Wilson @ ReBar

I then got myself to the F train to Dumbo. It's so easy to get there and it's becoming a great area.

I got there at 11:20 and knew it was scheduled 9-12 and it was no cover. I found a dancing spot easily and the music was awesome. They actually ended at 11:30, and I found out they started early. That 10 minutes was so good, it was worth writing about.

It was as good as anything I've ever heard of that style. I felt like I was in NOLA during jazzfest or something. It was more along the 20th Congress, acid jazz style than NOLA funk. This guy Reuban Wilson is excellent. He also found the right people to play with, Cochmea Gastelum on sax, Al Street on guitar, Erick Kalb on drums, Yoshi Takemasa on percussion.

I was the only one really dancing that I could tell, until a couple of friends came over to join me. They were there all night, so were probably dancing somewhere in there at some point.

It was a nice space, exposed brick walls and ceilings and felt pretty nice. It was a shame so many people were talking, but that's what no cover at a local hang gets you. I assume it was kind of last minute, so I doubt they would have gotten that many people otherwise.

This is something everyone who likes this type of music would love to see, but may not know to go. They should do a big night at Highline with them, The Budos Band, Akoya Afrobeat, and a few of those other in the family. I can live without Sharon Jones myself, but I know that could be a big draw.

Bug Music @ Jazz Standard 11/14/08

Yes, I knew this would be great and I had to go. They started with some pieces by John Kirby and then Raymond Scott. I didn't know the names, so I can't distinguish and I now forget a lot of what he said. But Raymond Scott has a lot of music that was used in cartoons.

All of the music was really nice with the clarinet. Don mentioned at one point that Rob DeBellis had all the hard parts. They both did a lot of awesome stuff. It was fun and captivating. They also did some other stuff, like Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies.

Don had a Bang on a Can shirt on and they had a free sampler up front. I'm looking forward to listening to it.

Bug Music: Compositions by Duke Ellington, Raymond Scott, and John Kirby
Don Byron – clarinet
Rob DeBellis – saxophone, flute, clarinet
Ralph Alessi – trumpet
Uri Caine – piano
Mark Helias – bass
Ben Wittman – drums

Anat Fort, Paul Motion, Gary Wang @ Rubin Museum 11/14/08

That was an excellent extra special jazz show. I really love that space. I sat in the 2nd row center. These shows are curated by a guy at the Jazz Museum in Harlem and are jointly done by both museums. The Jazz Museum guy told us the sound gets even better the farther back you sit. I never tried that, but I do like to sit up front so I can see everything and feel closer to the action, if I'm sitting, that is.

The music was excellent and the musicians were excellent. I'm always impressed by Paul Motion. He seems to have a unique style and approach that you don't see anyone else doing. I started wondering how he does it, I think I read somewhere he never practices. Is he improvising while everyone else is reading? Does it sound different every time? I think it probably does, when I read this quote:
“A lot of people,” Motian complains, “ask why I do something, as if there was a lot of forethought behind it. No, man, this shit is an accident. Kenny Clarke didn’t plan on being ‘the father of bebop drums.’ It just happened because the tempo was so fast that all he could do was play accents on the bass drum!”

They also got me very interested in doing the mini tour. Anat chose a painting of Milarepa, who was audoivoyant. The picture shows him with a hand up to his ear. He wrote a lot of songs and there's a story of how he killed 35 people and became a saint. The Rubin Museum guy tried to hook us in with that, but only about 4 of us decided to stick around to see the work and hear the story. I like the little mini-tour, it's quick and I don't know if I'd be that interested in a long tour of the works.

Anyway, they always ask the artists to either compose a piece or improvise with the chosen artwork in mind. Anat sat down to compose for the Milarepa painting and ended up with 3 pieces. They played them all together at the end. They were great and all different.

The set was probably about 75-90 minutes and outstanding.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Jeff "Tain" Watts Vigil for a Friend @ Jazz Gallery 11/13/08

Next I rush down to Jazz Gallery for some Tain. I wanted to see this regardless, but Charnett Moffett definitely motivated me to make sure I saw it. I was a little disappointed when I saw this other guy up at the bass and Tain told us Charnett had a last minute schedule conflict. He also told us we won’t miss him. I can’t remember his name, but I think it was something Smith from Minneapolis. He was very good, but I was still a little disappointed because I don’t get to see Charnett very often.

I did forget who was up there, myself, and everything soon enough. It was great music to get lost in. The vigil was for Kenny Kirkland, who died 10 years ago. They did some of their own songs, some of Kenny’s songs, and ended with a Coltrane song. It went by real quick. After an hour, Yosvany informed Tain it was almost 10:30 (they started around 9:20). He couldn’t believe it. He said let’s do some “Mr. JC”.

I was so happy I forgot I’d been considering going to S.O.B.s for The Budos Band or, if that looked like it was going to start too late, over to The Living Theatre for the RUCMA thing. I was so satisfied with the 2 shows I completely forgot and went home for a good rest.

Jeff "Tain" Watts Vigil for a Friend
Jeff "Tain" Watts - drums,
Yosvany Terry - saxophones/chekere,
David Kikoski - piano,
? - bass

Don Byron plays Mickey Katz @ Jazz Standard 11/13/08

I think I knew at one point, but forgot that the Don Byron 50th Birthday Celebration at Jazz Standard is different every night. I also had no idea who Mickey Katz was. All I knew is there was an amazing lineup of musicians scheduled for last night and I loved the last time I saw a Don Byron thing at Jazz Standard. Plus, I missed the place. I haven’t been there in about a month. Too long.

I was very happy with the music, even though I didn’t get the jokes. Mickey Katz did parodies of English-Yiddish songs. I love that klezmer stuff and with that lineup it was phenomenal. Don was having lots of fun up there. He was also able to get the audience to clap to the music in a not-so-in-your-face-kind-of-way. I never clap because I can’t get in sync with everyone else. But, it is nice when it’s not all over the place.

I love that clarinet,violin, piano playing Yiddish music sound. The trumpet was great in there as well.

Tonight is also a great lineup, doing the music of Duke Ellington and other swing. I have to go to that.

Last night:
Don Byron Plays the Music of Mickey Katz
Don Byron, clarinet
Ralph Alessi, trumpet
JD Parran, saxophones, clarinet
Alan Ferber, trombone
Todd Reynolds, violin
Uri Caine, piano
Kenny Davis, bass
Ben Wittman, drums
Jack Falk, vocal

A re-formation of the groundbreaking and virtuosic klezmer ensemble that recorded Byron’s eponymous Nonesuch album and spearheaded the klezmer revival in the 1990s. Dedicated to the music of the great Mickey Katz, clarinetist, humorist, and musical director for Spike Jones in the fifties and sixties.

Bug Music Sextet
Don Byron, clarinet
Rob DeBellis, saxophones
Ralph Alessi, trumpet
Uri Caine, piano
Mark Helias, bass
Ben Wittman, drums

Named after Byron’s best-selling 1996 album Bug Music, this stellar sextet performs razor-sharp arrangements of works by three great composers of the Swing Era – Duke Ellington, Raymond Scott, and John Kirby.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Susan Tedeschi @ Fillmore 11/12/08

I already had a ticket and since I live close, it seemed silly not to go for a bit. I was just kind of tired and unmotivated, which was the only reasons I considered blowing it off.

I'm glad I went, it was very enjoyable. I got there at 10 and figured I'd stay for 1/2 hour. I was into it enough to stay an hour. There were some dancers, but a lot of people were just standing still. There were various people talking at times, but usually not the buzz of a lot of people conversing at once.

After I put my coat down in a corner, it wasn't that hard to move past the stationary bodies and get a nice spot toward the front. It was good for a while, but then the lights started getting to me. Susan was also having a little trouble with the guitar tuning for some reason. Still, it sounded good, it was just when they started shining the lights on me I got annoyed.

Was it always that way or is this light annoyance I have due to a new way lights are being done in recent years? In the way past, the only time I remembering them bothering me was on the 2nd level at the Spectrum at Dead shows. They used to often shine the lights up there and it was annoying. Other than that, I don't remember ever having a problem.

It all started when NYC went no smoking. For a long time after that, almost every venue had a light front and center, and no one wanted to stand there. It was weird. I remember complaining about it at Tribeca Rock Club, but that didn't help. In more recent years, it's the many light crews that shine them in our faces, often a lot. That's why I was so happy with The Blender Theatre last week, they just had them shining down on the band in nice patterns and it looked good. Le Poisson Rouge is also fine when it comes to lights, I like how dark it is in there.

Anyway, I liked the 1 hour of Susan and I'm very glad I went.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Janus @ The Stone 11/11/08

I went to the 10pm set at The Stone. I had no idea who was on the bill, but I like to be surprised sometimes. I know that the 1st half of this month is full of stuff I’m not familiar with, including the curator, Brad Lubman. I just did a little googling, and I see he’s a composer and music teacher in the new music classical realm.

Janus is an interesting ensemble. It consists of a viola, flute, and harp. It was interesting to check out even though I’m not as into classical. The “new” part made me more interested. It’s interesting that in Germany, most of the listings had jazz/classical listed under one category. This music seemed to be in between those 2 somewhere. I also found it interesting they only played pieces composed by other people. That was different from most new music ensembles. I found out why this morning and here’s the answer:
janus is named after the mythological greek god whose double-faced image looks to the past and to the future. Likewise, janus is dedicated to performing pieces from the past and commissioning new works that they believe will become significant contributions to the trio repertoire. janus likens itself to a museum for modern trio music, showcasing not only the music itself through live performance, but also bringing the composers to the audience through pre-concert talks and interviews. janus is dedicated to bridging the gap that exists between performer, composer and listener.

Now I’m a little more interested. I like the concept of bringing the performer, composer, and listener together more. Ooh, I need to qualify that a bit. I like it sometimes. I hate too much "wave your hands in the air, now clap, now do this dance, now sing", etc. that gets old quick.

Our particpation piece was well done and definitely not too much. The last piece had 4 movements, and for the last one, we listeners were given plastic bags to crumple softly as part of the piece. It sounded good.

My favorite was the first piece, I felt very alive with that one. The 2nd one was a solo alto flute piece with some electronics. That was fascinating because I didn’t realize there was such a thing as an alto flute. Then, we got a viola/harp duo that I enjoyed a lot. There were a couple more I can’t remember. The last one, with the 4 movements had other interesting things going on like playing bottles with drumsticks and having some kind of wood sticks on the floor to hit lightly with their feet while they played their instruments.

It’s always nice to see something different with a whole new concept when it’s played by good musicians.
JanusAmanda Baker (viola) Nuiko Wadden (flute) Beth Meyers (harp)Featuring music by Anna Clyne, Jason Treuting, and Caleb Burhans

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Motown Videos

I just wanted to find out if I'm interested in seeing James Hunter tomorrow. He's opening for Susan Tedeschi. I listened to a few songs on his myspace page. I noticed he has all these blues greats as his friends, so I decided to listen to some of them. Somehow, after a while, I end up on Motown Original's, where they have some videos up. Miles Davis doing "Got to Give It Up" on Soul Train. Stevie Wonder doing a 6.5 minute "Superstition" on Sesame Street. This is good stuff! I couldn't really watch it that much since I'm working, so I'm putting it here to get back to it another time.

Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society @ Bowery Poetry Club 11/9/08

This was excellent! I love the music. It’s very new and different from everything else, but not really out there at all. They played from around 7:45-9:15 or so. It’s great music and I’m impressed with all of them. The solos were excellent, the non-solos were excellent, it's just a great ensemble.

He said they will put up a recording on their website in a couple of days. I recommend checking it out.

Darcy James Argue's
Sunday, Nov. 9
7:30 PM

Ben Kono
Rob Wilkerson
John Ellis
Mark Small
Josh Sinton

Nathan Warner
John Bailey
Laurie Frink
Nadje Noordhuis
Tom Goehring

Alan Ferber
Mike Fahie
James Hirschfeld
Jennifer Wharton

Pete McCann, guitar
Mike Holober, keyboards
Matt Clohesy, contrabass
Jon Wikan, drums & percussion

Composer, Conductor, Ringleader
Darcy James Argue

Monday, November 10, 2008

The New Mastersounds @ Sullivan Hall 11/8&9

So, because I was well-rested on Fri, very happy about the Derek show, I figured I could definitely go to this on Friday. I loved it. I had a great time and thought they were stretching out a little more than previously. They didn’t sound quite so generic. Now, they are a very talented band and their songs are very funky, so they would appeal to many. I loved them the first several times I saw them and still do, I just decided I couldn’t see them too often because it gets old for me. I think I’ve written in past posts about how I get “funked out” these days and I just can’t do the funk shows like I used to.

I think because I was coming off of 2 nights of Derek, and because they are starting to change I could appreciate them more. They had a singer with them and I like her. She definitely didn’t deteriorate the music at all and she fit in very well. She’s got a great voice. Some of it does really well with vocals. She also loves the music, so seems to be having a great time up there even when she’s not singing.

After having such a good time Fri, and being just around the corner at Blue Note on Sat, I had to go. I must say I was a little disappointed that night. They probably sounded a little better, it was just it was the same songs and it sounded kind of generic, formula-driven. I did get into it more towards the end. They told us the night before they would be playing the same songs in different order and playing the solos slightly different. It felt too much like a repeat to me. It was still fun and I definitely got more into it in the last ½ hour. I stayed for 2.5 hours, so it wasn’t like it was bad or anything. It was fun, I just didn’t need 2 nights. Still, I was glad to be there and didn’t feel like I should have stayed at Blue Note for Melvin Sparks.

Charlie Haden Liberation Music Orchestra @ Blue Note 11/8/08

I broke down and went to Blue Note during regular hours. I haven't done that for a few years. Even though they book stuff I want to see, I usually skip it and hope it eventually shows up somewhere else. I decided it was time to see the Charlie Haden Liberation Music Orchestra and it would be a good week to do it.

I used my amex to buy a ticket online. The fees are minimal, and its their own simple system. I bought it at 4pm that day. If I know I'm going, its a good option because when you prepay, you don't lose the reservation. Otherwise, its important to get there early. I also put in my amex code to get preferred seating. I always skipped that step before, if I chose to buy early for a late night show. I was curious what would happen, and it was free. Really, I should have known it was going to be a seat in center row the inside middle section, right on the end near the aisle. I know a lot of people think that's a good seat, but I'm not crazy about it. I prefer to be back by the soundbooth, so I can stand. I was jealous of a couple of people up there who decided to stand so they could see better. I also hate how tight it is in there. It's just wrong. Still, I hate being at the bar even more, in spite of the price difference. It's too far away and hard to see anything.

The music itself was phenomenal and I'm very glad I went. I hadn't paid much attention to who was in it besides Charlie. I was very happy when I saw Steve Cardenas, Bill McHenry, Chris Cheek, and Curtis Fowlkes. I also saw some others I recognized, but didn't know their names. Now I know that anyone in there is a safe bet. These were some amazing musicians. They basically do their own arrangements on political type songs. Experimental, interesting arrangements. I also loved having a french horn in the house. He stood in between the trumpet and the trombone. When he did a solo, I realized I would probably guess it was a trombone if I heard it on a recording. It was all awesome and they played for over an hour, maybe 45-50 minutes or so. That was good and unexpected.

I definitely felt like I got my $'s worth and effort's worth. I don't think I'll make a habit of it, but something like that, which I don't tend to get an opportunity to see anywhere else is worth it.

Charlie Haden, bass/bandleader
Alan Broadbent, piano/conductor
Tony Malaby, tenor sax (Tues-Wed)
Bill McHenry, tenor sax (Thurs-Sun)
Chris Cheek, tenor sax
Loren Stillman, alto sax
Michael Rodriguez, 1st trumpet
Seneca Black, 2nd Trumpet
Curtis Fowlkes, trombone
Vincent Chancey, french horn
Joe Daley, tuba
Steve Cardenas, guitar
Matt Wilson, drums

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Derik -> Eric -> Eric -> Derek

I went to Highline on Thurs for The Derek Trucks Band. I got there around 8:15 or so and Mocean Worker was already on. It was the same lineup as when I saw them at Blue Note. They were excellent and I enjoyed it a lot. I do think I like them more at a smaller venue, though. As the weekend went on, I appreciated them more. I realized how much I preferred them to Chapter 2, the opener on Fri night.

dTb was as excellent as ever. That is definitely a consistently great band. They played 9-11:15. I was getting ready to go home early, which I knew was good so I could be up for the next night. Also, Greg convinced me to go to The New Mastersounds this weekend. He suggested I got Fri because he anticipated I would want to go Sat as well. I thought about it, but if I didn't get enough sleep it might be hard to do. Then, at 11:15, Greg tells me it's expected that Derek will be going to Sullivan Hall that night to sit in with Eric Krasno. Well, I had to go to that.

This was listed as Eric Krasno & Friends, but I found out the next night when they opened for dTb that they are calling themselves Chapter 2. It was Kraz, Nigel, Adam Deitch, and a bass player. I got to Sullivan Hall just before setbreak, at around 12. I heard Ivan and Ian Neville had just walked in, so we were expecting a sit in by them. The 2nd set started around 12:30 and went until 2am. Ian and Ivan sat in for a song after a few songs in. A little later Derek came up to sit in and he was great. It was nice seeing him in a smaller place that wasn't very crowded. It was easy to get up front. It was a funky set overall and I was glad I went and didn't mind having to pay for the lack of sleep the next day.

Then, I forgot to set the alarm. That was nice because it was enough sleep to not feel tired. I was happy because it saved my Fri. I was also more productive at work than if I hadn't slept in, so it was a good thing all the way around.

The next night dTb was at The Blender Theatre. I really like that place. I like how the floor is slanted so the site lines are a little better than other places. I also liked the lighting for dTb. It seemed very professional and I really felt like I was at a top-notch show. They would mainly just shine them down on the band, for the most part they were blue and yellow. I'm getting more sensitive to lights because of Sullivan Hall and Highline shining them in our faces so much. Highline annoyed me a lot the night before when they would turn on the lights and just kill the vibe. I thought the lighting at Blender enhanced the vibe.

So, it was Chapter 2 again opening. There were a couple of funky songs, but there were also a lot of slower songs this set. I got kind of bored and went downstairs to sit down and watch it on the screen. It is definitely a good band, it's just not my preference. I just don't care for Nigel and would prefer an instrumental band. They played from 8:10-9:00.

dTb came on at about 9:25ish. It was awesome and I think it was the same set. I loved seeing it again and even liked Fri night better than Thurs. I think it went until 11:30. I loved it. Towards the end of the set, Krasno and Deitch came out to sit in. Kofi also invited Nigel up. That worked well. Yonrico and Adam took turns on the kit. Krasno sounded awesome with them, as he always does. At Sullivan Hall the night before, Nigel was singing a small part and Derek started a call and response like he often does with Susan. Nigel didn't seem that into it, so it fizzled out after a couple of times. At Blender, it worked and they actually did it. While I'm not crazy about the style of music they do with Nigel, he does have a great voice and the call and response with Derek was awesome.

I also love that dTb chose to do "Get Out My Life". They do it really well.

Derek has been introducing the band for a while now. It was interested that both nights, everyone was introduced with their first and last names, but Todd Smallie, Derek would say very enthusiastically, "Todd the bass player. Todd the bass player!" I will say that Todd had me in awe most of the show. I mean all of them are awesome and together they are truly incredible. But, there were some moments where it was hard to hear anyone else, Todd was so amazing.

I saw someone last night who was at the dTb Halloween show. He said it was phenomenal. I see it's up on Archive.

This was a nice part of my weekend.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Michael Wimberly & Electric Storm @ Yippie Café 11/5/08

RUCMA is now doing Mon and Wed nights at Yippie Café. They are now having them downstairs in the finished basement. I like it better down there as you can see better and it feels a little better.

The band was
Michael Wimberly & Electric StormBilly
Spaceman Patterson (guitar)
Hilliard Green (electric bass)
Michael Wimberly (drums)
Juan Quinonez (guitar)
Brett Miles (tenor/shells/flute) – I think

They started with a piece with drums and chanting with an idea of sending positive energy to Obama in the spirit of our ancestors. Whatever it was, it sounded great. During that, they moved from the chant to some groovy playing. Then, Michael announced they were going to do a ballad. That was some ballad. An acid jazz type ballad if you will. The last piece was a get down funky funky piece. Right before they started Hillard changed basses, both were electric, but he used the red one for this. Off the hook! It was also fun for me since I think I’ve only seen him with the upright in the past. It was his name that got me interested in going last night, but it was also the right time and location.

It was a very enjoyable hour.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Outside the Box @ Judson Memorial Church 11/4/08

My plans changed so I was able to make this after all. It was a nice, large open space with some cocktail tables. They kept saying they had tv with sound downstairs if anyone wanted to watch CNN. The sound guy would surf the web for us and we could see what was going on from the screen behind and above the continuous performance. Lisa Bielawa, the curator and host, would come up to the mic during the performance to let us know when something major happened on CNN, like Obama won Ohio and such.

I got there at around 7:15. Gordon Beeferman was playing piano and Steve Ben Israel was doing poetry.

The schedule was designed so that there was lots of overlap of artists. Each artist had a 45 or 60 min time slot and every 15-20 min someone would come and/or go. That meant continuous music and many different combinations of artists. I really loved how it was set up. It also wasn't rigid, they were listed as "approximate performance times".

For the poetry, it was mainly the poetry and only a little music. The poetry was good, I was just disappointed it was so long and it took up most of Ches Smith's timeslot. The piano left at about 7:25ish, pretty early. He was scheduled til 7:45. Ches came on at his scheduled time of 7:30, but he only played a little. At first it was good, Israel completely changed his cadence mid-poem and was jamming with Ches. But he changed after that and Ches dwindled over time, especially after the poet's son came up to do an improvised rap. It was all good, I just would have preferred more music and less poetry. Shahzad Ismaily joined with his basses at 7:45. He tried to play with the Israels, but only did a little.

The poets left at 8 and Miguel Frasconi joined with his glass instruments. I also found out from a friend that the opening at 6pm was John Zorn, Ches Smith, and Shahzad Ismaily playing an intense trio. That explained why they could be subdued for their 45 min slots.

I enjoyed the 15 min of glass, bass, drum trio and then Ches left. Joan La Barbara came up to join with her very interesting sound art using her vocal cords. It was very good.

Shahzad left at 8:30, and at about 8:40, the visual artist Kevork Mourad was ready to perform. That was pretty cool. It was like a very high tech etch-a-sketch. He was very good and not only was his art nice, he got into an interesting rhythm with the music. While the poetry felt kind of disconnected at times, this felt very connected to everyone else up there.

At about 8:45, this clarinet, Kinan Azmeh, started playing from his seat in the audience and it sounded awesome with him, Joan, and Miguel. That was really one of the best parts so far. He made his way up to the performance area and had a nice sound. He was also able to adapt and improvise with whomever was up there. Joan left after that one piece, a little later than her time slot, which was great. Then we had Miguel and Kinan and I think still some visuals for a while, which was nice. Miguel probably stayed a few minutes later, also.

Then, the violinist Colin Jacobsen and guitarist Kyle Sanna started upstairs or somewhere where we couldn't see them, doing interesting and different sounds that also came through a speaker. They were both scheduled for 9-10. Kinan phased himself out at 8:45 by again going back to his seat and sitting while playing his clarinet.

At some point, the violin and guitar had come into the performance space. At first playing with Kinan and then a duo. Then, Lisa Bielawa, the host, came up and did a little vocals with the duo for a little bit. Then, at 9:40, Paul Knopf came up and swung on the piano for a while. I left at just about 10, even though I was enjoying it. I needed rest and knew if I waited too long and then saw Jim Black, it would be really really hard to leave. I knew I couldn't stay up for his 11-12 spot since I was up late the night before.

That was nice and a great place to be. I think they did a good job and I felt very good there in that space. It was also nice to see so many good musicians I never knew existed.

More Accurate Recap of Headcount Benefit


Surprise Collaborations Abound at HeadCount Benefit

Last night, the non-profit voter registration group HeadCount hosted a Get Out and Vote Party at New York’s Highline Ballroom in conjunction with Magic Hat and Mixed Bag Productions. The evening featured an eclectic mix of music, ranging from English pop to Philadelphia hip-hop, organized into mini segments under the direction of RANA/American Babies guitarist Scott Metzger. As many suspected, at the end of the night Phil Lesh and Warren Haynes stopped by for an extended encore that lasted until well past 1AM.

The five-hour show opened with a short set by Americana/rock band American Babies, which found Spin Doctors singer Chris Barron sitting in his own hits “Two Princes” and “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong,” as well as Jimi Hendrix Experience’s “Spanish Castle Magic.” Soon after, Metzger and Ween bassist Dave Dreiwitz teamed up with the Benevento-Russo Duo (and performed as as Bustle in Your Hedgerow) for a mini set of Led Zeppelin covers, including “Song Remains the Same.” HeadCount co-founder Andy Bernstein then took the stage to say a few words about the organization he founded three election cycles ago with Disco Biscuits bassist Marc Brownstein.

Confirming numerous rumors that had swirled in the days leading up to the event, the Disco Biscuits took the stage for a surprise appearance. The three-song performance is one of only three shows the group plans to play while finishing its first studio album since 2002 and, keeping with the evening’s theme, drew in a number of additional performances. First up, Barron returned to the stage to supply lead vocals on the Disco Biscuits’ longtime cover of Pink Floyd’s “Have a Cigar.” The Spin Doctors singer then left to make room for keyboardist Marco Benevento, who sat in on the Disco Biscuits’ original “Story of the World.” Finally, both keyboardist John Medeski and drummer Stanton Moore joined the group for an extended jam based around Brownstein’s “Home Again.”

Throughout the night Roots drummer ?uestlove spun a series of soul, R&B and hi-hop records as stage hands quickly cleared the stage between performances. After the Disco Biscuits’ set, he moved behind the kit for the evening’s first powerjam, a loose blend of rock and gospel that featured Moore, Medeski, Dreiwitz, pedal-steel ace Robert Randolph, American Babies guitarist Tom Hamilton and several additional members of the Family Band, including keyboardist Jason Crosby. Led by Randolph’s pedal steel cries, the extended improvisational session moved from Family Band originals to covers like "Voodoo Child" to teases of bands such as Daft Punk to a freeform jam based around the word HeadCount. After Randolph’s set, British pop singer Joss Stone took the stage for a short set of her own originals.

Her appearance segued into one of the evening’s most intriguing collaborations: a supergroup consisting of Stone, Randolph, Brownstein, Medeski, Moore and the singer’s elaborate backing band. While the musicians hail from drastically different musical backgrounds, the core group found common ground on R&B/funk classics like Sly and the Family Stone’s “Stand” and Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground.” Despite the players’ limited rehearsal time, the ad hoc ensemble remained relatively tight, especially Stone and Randolph, who locked in like longtime bandmates.
The evening’s festivities paused briefly while Phil Lesh and Warren Haynes made their way from an earlier gig at the nearby Nokia Theatre for a short encore of classic-rock tunes. Anchoring a quartet that also included Moore and Medeski, Haynes and Lesh ran through the Grateful Dead’s “Franklin’s Tower,” Buffalo Springfield’s politically charged “For What It’s Worth” and the blues rave-up “Turn on Your Lovelight.” Lesh and Haynes shared vocals throughout the three-song set, channeling the chemistry they often displayed in Phil Lesh’s original quintet.

Lesh also brought the focus back to voting. “Now, I know you are all staying up all night to be the first in line at the polls,” he joked. “That’s why I’m here—to get the word out about voting.”

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Headcount Benefit @ Highline 11/3/08

I went up to Highline during lunchtime a couple of weeks ago to get a ticket for this. When I got there, I realized I hadn’t looked at the price. When they told me $50, I hesitated as I wasn’t sure I was into it enough to spend that. I also hadn’t realized it was on a Mon night, and I have MNA that I don’t like to miss.

Still, I was there, and I decided to buy it as it might be really good. I did go to MNA, which was wonderful. I left at the break, but as I hoped, the break didn’t happen until late, 8:45, so I transformed while I was there. What emerged there last night was mainly about the 2nd Principle of Instantaneous Transformation: No two things can occupy the same space at the same time. Another way of saying this is you can only be how you are in any given moment. What’s done is done and there’s no going back. So, there is no need to rehash it over and over. It’s actually a waste. It couldn’t be any different than it was simply because it happened the way it did. It’s very powerful. I don’t know exactly what happened for me, but something definitely shifted in me and my experience of life is completely different than it was last night before 7pm, I can tell you that.

Then, in the spirit of having it all, I cabbed it over to Highline and got there a little after 9. Bustle in You Hedgerow was on. I was glad because I wasn’t expecting them. It was the best Bustle lineup, with Joe Russo, Marco Benevento, Scott Metzger, and Dave Driewitz. It was so funny when Marco said how they are “a Led Zeppelin tribute band”. They are, but they're also incredible musicians that do many other projects.

It actually took me a while to warm up to the concept. The first time I saw The Duo play Led Zeppelin was at a Rope-a-Dope New Music Seminar at Bowery Ballroom a few years back. Probably 5 years or so by now. I was very excited and expected a lot of intermingling among the performers. I remember being very disappointed when it was time for The Duo’s set and Skerik came out with his sax strapped on. They looked at each other and Skerik asked if they wanted to just jam, I think Critters Buggin was going to be after. I know that’s what I wanted. The Duo gave him a signal that no, they didn’t want to jam, they had ideas about how this set was going to be. Oh well.

I can’t remember everything about that show, but I think they did some of their own Duo tunes before Scott Metzer came out. That was my first time seeing him. Then they did 3 Led Zeppelin songs, exactly the way it would sound on an album. I was very disappointed and didn’t like it at all. Not that the music wasn’t good, it was very good. It was my aversion to covers being played exactly the way it sounds on the album. I love Led Zep, but I have most of the CDs, and don’t need to hear anyone else doing it, unless they stretch out a bit. The good news was there were no vocals. Still, I wasn’t into it. I was opposed to the whole thing the more they did it. And, boy did they continue to do it. Over time, I got over my aversion to covers as now I sometimes do like to hear a favorite band doing covers. It took a while, though. I now go to a Bustle show from time to time and really enjoy them when I do. If I’m gonna see a Led Zep tribute band, this is the one I want it to be. They can really play it phenomenally.

Last night I got there in time for the last 2 or 3 of those Led Zeppelin songs. It was very good. It was early, and I think I prefer it in a smaller venue, but it was still enjoyable.

Then there was a little setbreak and then they announced The Disco Biscuits. My heart sank. I started thinking about how I made a bad choice and wondering if I should step outside for while. I realized I’ve barely given them a chance and their core crowd wasn’t there, it wasn’t overly crowded, and I could probably check it out. I might even like it, I should give it a chance at least. It turns out I did like it as once it started I didn’t feel compelled to go outside. It wasn’t blown away amazing, but it was good. I did move to the back of the room as I didn’t really need to be up front with less room to dance.

After a couple of songs, Marco came up and played with them and things started turning. It started getting really good. Then, out comes John Medeski and Stanton Moore, and it got blown away amazing. Now I was REALLY glad I came. That was amazing and one of the highlights.

Then ?uestlove and some other guy came out and it really wasn’t my thing. That’s when I went outside for a while, I just didn’t care for his DJ style. After a while, maybe 20-30 minutes, I came back in and they were still up there. Sometimes he would start spinning a great, grooving, soulful song, only to change it too soon afterwards. I thought the bits of songs were too short and some were really not good for me. It also seemed to go on way too long for me. I was glad when it was finally over. I was able to make the most of it and I was getting down at times. It could have been much worse as a lot of the music itself was enjoyable, it was just too erratic.

Then, when his set finally ended, all of a sudden it’s Robert Randolph, Stanton, and a bunch of others. I can’t remember if Medeski was out there from the start, but I think he was. That was pretty good. It started getting better and better as it went on. I definitely enjoyed it, but the highlight for me at this point was still the last Biscuits song with Medeski and Stanton.

Then, there’s a break and I know something’s up. I had a feeling that Warren would show up. Still, I didn’t know if I wanted to stay anymore. I asked around and found out it was rumored that Warren AND Phil were coming. Well, that changes everything. Nothing is getting me out of there until it either happens or it’s deemed an impossibility. No way.

Joss Stone came out and I think there were some of my guys in there with her. She was pretty good. She does have a great, soulful voice. I was into it, but still, not at the level of that last Biscuits song. After that set, we are told that certain people were going to be coming and we should stay. That was all the confirmation I needed.

Then we got a mishmash mini set of Joss Stone, Robert Randolph, Medeski and Stanton that was very enjoyable.

And then Warren and Phil show up and I’m astounded before a note is even played. I mean, I often try to fantasize about what type of dream band I could come up with. I also hesitate because I’ve seen so much, and I know that there are possibilities that actually happen that I could fathom in my wildest dreams. Well, Phil Lesh, Warren Haynes, Stanton Moore, and John Medeski is one of those fantasy bands I couldn’t possibly dream up. That would never in a million years have occurred to me.

I don’t go see Phil anymore. I got “Phil’d Up” one year and so far, I can’t get back. I also have a hard time believing it will ever be as good as those Beacon shows with Warren, Jimmy Herring, John Molo and Rob Barraco. I never went to anything GD related at that time. I was done with them. I thought they died with Jerry and they just weren’t any good any more (actually, it was way before that come to think of it). Then, my friends had an extra to one of the early Beacon shows, and I decided to go to spend time with the friends. These were also people I’ve been to many Dead shows with, so it would be fun. I was blown away and proceeded to go to every single one after that. I can’t remember how many 6 night runs at The Beacon we got (or even if they were 6 nights or more or less). Still, I couldn’t get enough. I felt a void when that era ended. Later, when Phil started playing around again, I didn’t realize it was all about that particular band. I thought it was anything Phil. I went to Vegas for my one and only time and loved that show. Then, they came to NYC for I think 8 nights and I got a ticket for everyone. Some were at the Beacon and then the end ones were at Hammerstein. I really overdid it and remember I sold the Hammerstein ones and I haven’t been able to go to any Phil since. I still don’t want to.

But, this fantasy band is something entirely different. It also gave me a chance to see Phil again and he was amazing. The whole thing blew me away. I think it was only 2 long songs, Franklin’s Tower and For What It’s Worth. Phil at first said we were going to stay all night and then go to the polls at 6am. At that moment, I probably would have done it, but I didn’t want to. It was only 1am-ish, and I flashed back to my early college days when I used to pull all nighters for exams that were at 8am and then fall asleep 1 hour before the exam and miss it.

Actually, one side of me thought it was a little irresponsible of us to go to a late night get out and vote tomorrow party. But, the other side of me thought it was brilliant because it would be unbelievably lame to go to this show and then miss the voting. I know if people said they had to work the next day I would always chime in with “all you have to do tomorrow is vote”. It’s also kind of easy given how much time we have, something like 6am – 9pm. There’s going to be some coherent time in there at some point.

I was glad they stopped after 2 long phenomenal songs that really jammed. It was amazing and I was able to get right up front with plenty of room as the crowd really thinned out. It was as great as it could be. I think I left at about 1:30.

Magic Hat Presents
HeadCount Get Out and Vote Party
-w-Joss Stone
Robert Randolph
?uestlove (of The Roots)
Stanton Moore
+ members of The Disco Biscuits, Ween, The Duo, American Babies
November 3,2008

Jenny Scheinman @ Village Vanguard 11/2/08

I couldn’t bear to not go to this. I mean, I would want to see any of these artists in anything they do, together has got to be phenomenal. I feel like if I haven’t seen these 4 together before, I’ve seen something(s) close.

I took my last chance, Sun late set. It was close to the dance theatre, and I was so wound up I knew I couldn’t miss it. There was that same guy sitting in my favorite front row center seat that I’ve seen at every Bill Frisell show at the Vanguard. I overheard him telling his neighbors about how the 1st set is usually scripted, but the 2nd set they branch out a little into what they feel like, with some always plays. I got the impression he’d been there for every single set. I’m pretty sure people were allowed to stay for a smaller cover or a minimum. They do it differently at different times. I’d love to do that, but I can’t always work in both sets. I think it happened a lot with Cecil Taylor, and he’s there again this week. If I make it, I should try for the 2.

Anyway, I ended up getting a great seat right up front center, in the “2nd row”. There was no one in front of me, so I had a great view. It was phenomenal, as was expected. They started off with some great new tune. It was very catchy, and very well-done. I also remember they did a Duke Ellington tune, “Awful Sad”, that was great. They were promoting a new cd, so they played a lot of stuff off of that. It went over an hour, maybe 75 minutes. I had heard that guy say they did a 75 minute set on Thurs because they were into it.

I’m so glad I did it and I wasn’t too tired yesterday. I do love going to the last set of the run.

Jenny Scheinman - violin
Jason Moran - piano
Greg Cohen - bass
Rudy Royston - drums

DTB This Week

I didn’t need any other motivators to go to both DTB shows later this week. But, this from their recent newsletter is making me even happier. I’m not even going to try to find out who it is. It will be funner that way.

The tour rolls on this week with two shows in New York City. We've got two great openers for these shows. First, at the Highline Ballroom on Thursday we're happy to announce Mocean Worker, a unique blend of jazz and beyond sure to get you groovin’. Then on Fri at the Gramercy Theatre we've got a special surprise guest opening the show. We can't tell you who it is but they’re close friends of the dTb and you won’t want to miss their set. So get to the shows on time (both nights music starts at 8 PM)!

Tarot - Fantasy Bellydance 11/2/08

I went to a bellydance show the other night. My friend Val was in the “Wheel of Fortune” piece. There was no arm-twisting for me, a Bellydancing show with a bunch of pieces based on Tarot cards sounded awesome to me.

It was really great and surpassed my expectations. The music was great, although aside from few drums for a couple of pieces and a clarinet accompanying one piece, it wasn’t live. The theatre was very nice and I thought the space added to it. It was at the Merce Cunningham Studio way west in the village. The costumes were phenomenal.

Every single piece was excellent. They were all different. Here’s a quick rundown:
The Fool - Blanca
The Lovers (story: Venus & Tannhauser) - Neon and Angel
The Lovers (parody) - Yoshina and Todd Colburn
The Hermit - Tanna Valentine
The High Priestess - Sarah Johansson Locke & Alchemy Dance Theater
The Emperor - Toshi Hamada and Blanca
The Wheel of Fortune (story: Cleopatra) - Sarah Skinner, Kazja and the Sisters of Salome
The Empress (story: Parvati) - Ayshe
The Magician - Neon and Blanca
Adjustment / Justice (sword dance) - Irina Akulenko
Lust - Sarah Skinner and the Sisters of Salome
Temperance - Andrea Anwar
The Hanged Man - Alicia and Heather of BellyCraft, Miami (Gothic)
The Devil - AnasmaJudgment - Autumn Ward
Death - Fayzah and Aurea Dancers (Sangeeta Vallabhan & Zahra Hashemian)
The Star - Elisheva & Kittarina

I loved all of it, but I’ll tell you about some of my favorites. There’s also some photos online.

Parody of Lovers was nice and jazzy. The music was “Black Cat Tango” by Yuko Oz. The guy and the girl were dressed up jazzy and this was the one with the clarinet. They guy played it along with the music at times. It was a lot of fun and quite different from what I would think of as traditional bellydancing.

The High Priestess had impressive choreography. There were 5 women and I loved how they interacted and the whole sequence.

The Wheel of Fortune was so elaborate and so well done. It was about Cleopatra.

The Hanged Man had a really cool techno/disco type feel and the 2 girls who performed were awesome. It had a really cool vibe.

That’s all I have time for, but really every single piece was excellent and I loved the whole thing. I heard that every one of the Venus Uprising shows is phenomenal, and I’m not surprised.


This looks great, although I probably can't make it.

Outside the Box
An Election Night Concert
of Free Improvisation
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
6 pm - midnight
Curated by Lisa Bielawa in New York &
Carla Kihlstedt in the Bay Area
Featuring performances by 19 artists including
John Zorn & Joan La Barbara
Simultaneous concert to be performed in
Oakland, CA and broadcast via live video feed
Presented by Judson Memorial Church
55 Washington Square South, NYC
Admission: $10 at the door (entire evening, re-admission free)
Information: 212.477.0351 or

6 pm – 8 pm:
John Zorn – composer, saxophonist, and multi-instrumentalist
Zeena Parkins – electric harpist
Gordon Beeferman – composer and pianist
Steve Ben Israel – poet
Shahzad Ismaily – percussionist
Ches Smith – drummer

8 pm – 10 pm:
Miguel Frasconi – glass instrumentalist and electronics
Joan La Barbara – composer, performer, and soundartist
Colin Jacobsen – violinist
Kinan Azmeh – clarinetist
Kevork Mourad – improvisational painter
Kyle Sanna – guitarist
Paul Knopf – pianist

10 pm – midnight:
Lisa Bielawa – vocalist
Charles Waters – clarinetist, saxophonist, and multi-instrumentalist
Mick Rossi – pianist, composer, and percussionist
Russ Johnson – trumpet
Jim Black – percussionist
Hilmar Jensson – guitarist

Monday, November 3, 2008

Improv Night @ The Stone 10/31/08

All week, I looked at all of my options and the only thing I wanted to do for Halloween was go to Improv Night. I walked in at 10pm and they were already on. I chose to stand in the way back. It was Eyal Maoz and Wu Fei and it was excellent. When I walked in, there was lots of strumming going on and Wu was singing.

The next one is a little fuzzy. It was definitely Ned Rothenberg and Marty Erlich on clarinets. I think it was just them for this piece and the next one had Wu Fei, a drummer named Eric, Robert Suddath, and someone else. That was the 2 pieces, or they all played together for the 2nd piece.

Next was Ches Smith, Nate Wooley, and a great bassist I’m not sure if I’ve seen before or not. He seemed like he would go well with Ches.

Then, Nate was walking downstairs and we hear Zorn tell him he can play with them on the next one if he plays it like a trumpet. That was kind of funny. I do think I’ve seen him play more “not like a trumpet” than “like a trumpet”, but either way, he’s great. It was those 2, Rothenberg on alto, and Erlich/Suddath on tenors.

Then we had Ben Gerstein on guitar, Eric on drums and I’m not sure who else, I think one more.

Next Wu Fei and Rob Suddath.

After that was Ches Smith, the bass player, and I think Marty Erlich.

The last one before the grand finale was Eyal Maoz, Nate Wooley, Ned Rotheberg, and Eric the drummer.

Then, everyone up for the big finish.

It was all great, I had a little more trouble paying attention to the details because I was in the back, worried about the door slamming and complaining to myself if people were talking back there or coming and going a lot. Serves me right for not getting there a little early to get my seat up front. I did have an option at the first break to sit in the other front row, but at the time I thought I’d prefer to stand in the back.

Regardless of my vague memory, the music was as great as always.