Sunday, August 29, 2010

Alhambra Love Songs @ Yoshi’s, San Francisco 8/27/10

When I was booking the trip I of course checked the music listings before deciding when to come home.  It was nice to see great Zorn projects in a nice jazz club setting on a good stage.

I did get to see this once before, on Zorn's birthday, with different people.  I see there is a CD with a different lineup from both of my shows.

It was fantastic.  The music reminds me very much of The Dreamers.  I wonder if some of the pieces are the same music arranged differently. 

Zorn was conducting for the most part.  However, for one piece toward the end he was playing the strings inside the piano while Burger played the keys.  I never saw him play anything other than the sax.  It was a great piece.

It was a phenomenal set and just wonderful music.  The set was about 75 minutes including the encore.  I loved it.

8PM: ALHAMBRA LOVE SONGS with Rob Burger piano , Trevor Dunn bass, Kenny Wollesen drums

Eloise Laws @ Napa 8/26/10

Yes, my one big business trip of the year is again to Napa Valley, CA. I also found an excuse to do some work in San Francisco ahead of time. We were again fortunate that Eloise Laws was a guest at our big dinner in the wine cellar on Thurs night. She said she wasn't going to sing, but then was moved enough to treat us to a moving acapella rendition of "Fever". Later, she was so happy she sang "At Last" for the first time ever. I thought she blew Etta James away when comparing to the time I saw Etta at Carnegie Hall in the past 5 years. I really felt it.

At the start of dinner, I noticed her purse was burgeoning with a few CDs. She had brought them to give to some friends. I asked her about them and scored one. I'm looking forward to listening to it.

William Hooker @ Yoshi's, San Francisco 8/24/10

I needed to get the "lay of the land" before the upcoming 4 sets of Zorn the following weekend. I already bought open seating willcall tickets for the Zorn shows, thinking it's unlikely there is a bad seat in the house. While that's true, there are some better seats than others. There is a balcony as well. I’m not too keen on balconies, usually. The tables right up at the stage don't seem too close. I was able to pick a good seat for myself for this show. I also learned that if I come before 6:30-7 and I spend money in the dining room or lounge, I will be able to get a better seat than if I just walked in for the show later. The moral is buy reserved seats for the more popular shows and buy open seating seats for the less popular. Being a solo helps get a good seat as well.
This show was fantastic. It was something you might see at Tonic. It started before William came onstage. We heard his poetic vocals. He came out and did a great solo drum piece. He then left the stage and Oleyumi Thomas came out at first doing a talking drum solo. It was a little drum he had strapped around his shoulder and played with a curved stick. It was as little as that little armpit drum, the taku, that I've seen Baye Kayote play. He then picked up the bass clarinet to continue the piece. William came out after a bit as they continued the duo piece. alternated between the bass clarinet and the soprano sax for the duration.

Next it was time for the trio piece. Out came Darren Johnston on trumpet and Aaron Bennett on saxophones: tenor, baritone and soprano. They kicked butt. I enjoyed the tenor and soprano the most but it was all great.

The set finished with one more solo piece from William.

It was a great show!

William Hooker: Three Sides of Now
August 24, 2010
Solo/ Duo w/ Oleyumi Thomas/ Trio w/ Aaron Bennett & Darren Johnston

Amendola/Blades @ Cafe Royale, San Francisco 8/22/10

I have been in San Francisco and Napa Valley for the past 10 days, mainly for work. I chose to be in San Francisco both weekends for fun.  It takes me a bit to be able to stay awake and enjoy the night life, but the day life is pretty fun regardless.  Finally on Sunday night, I found an early listing for some great music.  The listing said Scott Amendola at Cafe Royale at 7pm.  Perfect!

I was happy to see Scott's gig was a drum/organ duo. I had to miss my favorite drum/organ duo in NYC later in the week. I knew I could console myself with this and the Zorn extravaganza I was to attend at Yoshi's later in the week.  The show I missed was the Benevento/Russo Duo at Highline Ballroom in NYC on 8/27.  The show I got was Scott Amendola/Will Blades duo at Cafe Royale in San Francisco.  A little different, but great in it's own way.

I could only stay for the first set. It was a dynamite set. I was in the closest seat to Scott. The drums and organ were facing each other, "Duo style", so I got to watch Scott's every move. However, I found my attention falling over to Will quite a bit.
It was great. They did some originals, some Monk, some Dizzy "Latin style", among other things. I loved the Dizzy tune. Scott played that one with his hands and sometimes the brushes.
This little cafe with wine and beer has jazz every Sunday. I think this is the place where Adam Levy and Jonathon Kreisman started playing together. It's probably worth going on any given Sunday.

This was my first time knowing I was seeing Will Blades.  When I look at his bio I realize there is a good chance I've seen him before and didn't realize it.  I'm impressed.  I looked up his bio on All About Jazz:

From cookin’ with Blues legend John Lee Hooker, organ summits with B-3 master Dr. Lonnie Smith, television and radio appearances, young Wil Blades is gaining critical acclaim and international recognition. Blades, a native Chicagoan, has become the San Francisco Bay Area’s first call organist and is rapidly gaining momentum throughout the country. In 2007 and 2008, he was named in the Downbeat critics poll under “Rising Star” for organ. For the past several years, Wil has been wowing Bay Area audiences with groups such as “O.G.D.,” “Motherbug”, “Amendola Vs. Blades”, “Steppin’.” In addition to performing with legendary artists such as John Lee Hooker and Dr. Lonnie Smith, Wil has performed and recorded with Melvin Sparks, Idris Muhammad, Joe Louis Walker, Don Braden, Donald Harrison, Karl Denson, Will Bernard, Scott Amendola, Charlie Hunter, Stanton Moore, Betty Joplin, Eddie Marshall, Herbie Lewis, and many others.
Born in 1979, Wil began playing drums at the age of 8, guitar at 13, and then found his true calling on Hammond B-3 at 19. While studying Jazz at New College of California with Herbie Lewis, Wil landed weekly gigs at John Lee Hooker’s Boom Boom Room in San Francisco. Barely of legal age, veteran musicians, such as Oscar Myers, took him under their wings. Being self- taught on organ, the weekly gigs proved to be the best lessons of all. In the years since, Wil has received tutelage from Jazz Organ master, Dr. Lonnie Smith. “Yeah, he does it...he’s on it. He is the future to carry on the legend, the legacy of the organ, [of] the B-3.”
Wil has kept the traditional sounds of Jimmy Smith, Larry Young, and “Groove” Holmes alive, while creating a more personal, modern sound. In Wil’s words, “I feel indebted to the tradition and masters of the Hammond Organ, but while trying to keep it going, I’m also focused on bringing my contemporary influences to the table.” His playing is rhythmic, funky and bluesy, yet his original compositions are harmonically intriguing and unique.

Wil currently leads his own groups around the Bay Area and is dedicating his time to teaching the Hammond B-3 Organ privately and at the Jazzschool in Berkeley. Current musical collaborations include groups with guitarist Will Bernard, Jazz legend Idris Muhammad and a duo project with drummer Scott Amendola. Wil’s debut record, “Sketchy”, is now available on Doodlin’ Records.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Cindy Blackman @ Jazz Standard 8/17/10

She may be a tall, thin, beautiful woman but she's also a monster drummer. I was blown away. She's got the perfect level of intensity and knows how to play.

I love drummer-led bands. She's got a kickass bass player for sure. The music is very lively and intense. She's got keyboard AND electronics players. Add a sax player and we have a winner.

I found myself looking for the guitar at one point to discover the sound was coming from the keyboard. It was somewhat reminiscent of Bernie Worrell. I enjoyed the sax, especially when he was on soprano.

It was a very fun show and I will be sure to add her and the bass player to my list of people to go see when I can. The others were great as well and I will be happy to see them in other projects.

I'm reading the listing and I'm again bummed out I missed Bitches Brew Revisited. I kept thinking of Miles when I saw the keyboard and electronics players. Actually, I kept thinking of the band Burnt Sugar, which is inspired by Miles.


Antoine Roney – tenor saxophone
Marc Cary – keyboards
Zaccai Curtis – keyboards
Rashaan Carter – bass
Cindy Blackman – drums

Yes, Cindy Blackman is a great drummer – just ask Pharaoh Sanders, Sam Rivers, Lenny Kravitz, or Joss Stone, to name but a few of the artists she’s worked with. But she’s also a complete musician who has released nine albums as a leader, including her new release Another Lifetime (Four Quarters), a dedication to the drumming master Tony Williams. Cindy arrives on our stage fresh from recent galvanizing performances with “Bitches Brew Revisited,” the electric Miles Davis tribute group also featuring James Blood Ulmer, Graham Haynes, and DJ Logic.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ches Smith's These Arches @ Local 269 8/16/10

I saw this at The Stone once before. I like having it in this slightly larger space even though the sound isn't that great. It's good enough. It's an excellent ensemble and they all shine. Each artist brings a lot to the music. They all have unique styles that that work very well together. It is pure genius to put them together and the compositions are brilliant.

I loved watching Ches play. He was behind and a little above the others which made watching him even more fun. Mary and Andrea both caught me in many moments. Tony was as awesome as always.

I would like to see them at Roulette sometime.

Ches Smith's These Arches
Tony Malaby,
guitarist Mary Halvorson
accordionist Andrea Parkins

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Grizzly Adams @ Littlefeld 8/14/10

I was expecting utter greatness and I got it! Whatever you can imagine John Medeski, Ben Perowsky and Jamie Saft doing in a Rock band would probably come up short to what this turned out to be. The bass player certainly fit right in.

Ben was a monster and had me in Heaven. Boy was he hitting those drums! A complete monster. Medeski was unbelievable.

This was my kind of band! Yet another dream band I could have never thought up myself.

Here's an article about how this band started.

And here's their myspace page which includes a vid.

GRIZZLY ADAMZ is a new Catskill Mountains Rock Supergroup.

Featuring John Medeski (Medeski, Martin, and Wood, The Word, Trey Anastasio, Phil Lesh) on organ and vox; Jamie Saft (Beastie Boys, Bad Brains, Laurie Anderson, John Zorn) on guitar and vox; Danny Blume (Lounge Lizards, Kid Creole and the Coconuts, Lisa Loeb, Klezmatics) on bass and vox; and Ben Perowsky (Rickie Lee Jones, Roy Ayers, Mike Stern, Joan as Police- woman) on drums and vox, Grizzly Adamz is the culmination of 20 years of collaborations between its members.
Joining forces for the first time as a unit, these four NY legends have finally combined to break down the boundaries between Blues, Rock, Soul, Jazz, Psych, and Improvised Musics. Expect nothing less than an explosion of American Roots Musics that channels The Band, ZZ Top, Jimi Hendrix, and Blue Cheer.

The Inbetweens @ Littlefeld 8/14/10

I caught the last 20 min. I hadn't realized this was Mike Gamble. It was great. A trio with Mike Gamble on guitar, an upright bass and intense drums. It was definitely in the creative "avant" realm. If you know Mike Gamble's work, you can get an idea of what this was. It was awesome.

Here's a listing from an Ars Nova gig:
The Inbetweens
Mike Gamble, el. guitar
Noah Jarrett, double-bass
Conor Elmes, drums

“This exploratory trio belongs to a social network of musicians who filter jazz protocols through an indie-rock lens.” -Nate Chinen, The New York Times

The Inbetweens emerged in the summer of 2002, from the roots of improvisation, curiosity and like minds. They collectively weave melodies and vamps into intricate spider webs of rhythm. The trio circles each other like predators seeking the same prey, forcing the standard guitar trio format to walk the plank. Before they were The Inbetweens, they lived in Boston, where they each spent time gigging and studying jazz at the New England Conservatory of Music with gurus such as Bob Moses, George Garzone, John Lockwood and John Abercrombie. Since, guitarist Mike Gamble, bassist Noah Jarrett, and drummer Conor Elmes have been performing bi-monthly as a trio in NYC. As a rhythm section, they have backed up the sufi-rockers Brooklyn Qawwali Party, Philadelphia soul singer Candice Manson, and have separately toured with the Youngblood Brass Band, Cougar, Haale, Todd Sickafoose and Mamadou Diabate. Since their inception, the trio have put out three self-released albums, and are excited to have released "Quantum Cowboy", on Madison, WI’s Layered Records.

Jeff "Tain" Watts @ Jazz Standard 8/12/10

I think this is the same band I saw after Herbie Hancock earlier this summer. Tain's projects are always fabulous. Having David Kikoski on piano brings it up a few notches - he's unbelievable.

The set was about 75 min and fantastic. They ended with a spectacular piece that had lots of chunks of "NOLA feel" in it.

They are about to record this music and it should be a good one.

Thursday - Sunday August 12 - 15

Steve Wilson – alto & soprano saxophones
David Kikoski – piano
James Genus – bass
Jeff “Tain” Watts – drums
One of the most dynamic and in–demand drummers on the scene today, Jeff “Tain” Watts is also an adept bandleader and creative composer: He wrote all ten tunes on his 2009 album Watts, featuring Terence Blanchard, Christian McBride and Branford Marsalis. For this special Jazz Standard engagement, “Tain” has recruited a top–shelf group of veteran players including saxophonist Steve Wilson, pianist David Kikoski, and bassist James Genus. “Watts is a one–man percussion ensemble, shoe–horning a loose–limbed pulse into the tightest of time–keeping. The tension created is truly propulsive, whirling through blues, contemporary swing, and a beautiful ballad.” (Financial Times)

JJ Grey @ City Winery 8/11/12

What JJ's music has is a lot of soul. He's a good singer and guitar and harmonica player. Still, what gets me out to see this talented singer-songwriter is the soulfulness. It's not like every note hits me the way Derek Trucks does, but the music being good certainly has something to do with it. I think it boils down to his being so present when he plays. It was also nice that there were people besides me dancing at times. It was almost 2 hours long and a lot of fun.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Dave Binney Group @ Joe's Pub 8/7/10

Dave Binney really knows how to put a band together! This show was nothing but amazing and captivating. I could see Brian, but not all of him or his kit. That didn't seem to matter much since I kept getting caught by Craig's piano playing. There were times his hands were moving so fast, they were just a blur.

There was one part where it sounded to me like Brian was playing with his hands, but it was actually mallets. It was awesome. I also liked him on tambourine. He is one of THE best drummers around.

I couldn't see Eivind, but he sounded awesome. Dave was as great as always.

They are recording soon. Yeah!

I found a review from another blog:
Mr. Binney, an alto saxophonist given to a robust and kinetic strain of postbop, works on Saturday with a version of the slashing group heard on “Third Occasion” (Mythology), released last year: the keyboardist Craig Taborn, the bassist Eivind Opsvik and the drummer Brian Blade.

Iverson/Anderson/Turner/Waits @ Small's 8/5/10

I walked in at 9:20 for the 9:30 set and the room was already pretty full. Still, I was able to score the 2nd barstool in from the stage, right by the drums. By 9:30 it was sold out, with a big crowd of standers in the back. There was a line outside of about 20 people waiting to get in for the 2nd set when I left soon after the end of the 1st.

It was well worth standing in line on a hot and steamy night! It was such an honor to sit so close to Nasheet. He had a lot of intense parts. He blew me away. I was so close I noticed theses 3 little metal "beads" on one of his cymbals. It was so pretty how they shook when he was playing that cymbal. I never saw that before.

Every so often I was able to tear my attention away from Nasheet to enjoy the others. They are all excellent and it's an excellent band.

There was some discussion about the last song. They let Reid choose between 2. He chose the one we heard because it wasn't played the previous night. It started and ended with amazing killer drum solos. Boy was I happy!

Lubriphonic @ Brooklyn Bowl 7/31/10

I had them on my list after I saw them sit in with The New Mastersounds at NOLA HOB. This show was OK. They need a singer or to go completely instrumental. The guitar player did the singing. He's great on the guitar and OK on the singing.

I enjoyed the music more at first. I started thinking about how they should do a little mini-tour/double bill with BuzzUniverse. It would introduce the other band to each of their markets and help them both grow. I also enjoyed most of the instrumental parts. I just didn't care for the "soul funk" type songs or the vocals. I did like their choice of covers.

I talked to someone who saw them open for The New Mastersounds in NOLA. He said they were way better that night. They had more people and blew everybody away. That means I will have to give them another chance.