Sunday, October 31, 2010

Film: Live From Tokyo @ Asia Institute 10/29/10

I've been curious about music in Japan for a while now.  I know that there are many great live CDs that come from Japan and the ones I have, of artists I love, are all a little different, more cutting edge than the CDs from the states.  This film was about a music scene of underground local Japanese musicians playing in Live Houses all over Tokyo.  It's one director and his team's view of the scene.  It looks like it is so vast that you make many films out of this very rich and dense scene.  I love screenings with a Q&A with the filmmaker.  It was definitely an even richer experience with that. 

They had the director Lewis Rapkin out briefly before the film.  I must say I was surprised how young he was (and the audience as well).  He is a musician living in Brooklyn.  He did a study abroad thing in Tokyo and saw great music every single night.  He was compelled to come back with a crew and document the scene.  They did the filming in 8 weeks.  They contacted the bands and potential interviewees by email.  Each day they got up early and went through their emails and set up appointments.  Then they would go out and do the interviews they had scheduled for that day and film the bands.  They have tons of footage that did not make it in the film.  They would like to do something with it at some point.

The bands span all genres.  The ones in this film appear to all be trying to do something innovative.  I liked a lot of them, but not all.  I perked up once I saw this guy, Makoto Oshiro, who makes his own very interesting instruments.  He showed us one and I thought the film did a good job of helping explain what was going on.  They actually drew a picture and would go back and forth between Makoto talking and the picture, which helped understand what he was talking about.  The band called dvd was pretty cool.  2 drummers and a visual artists.  There were many more, and you can see something about each of them on the website.

One extremely interesting thing is that when a band gets booked at a Live House, the band has to make up any cash difference if they don't get the required headcount.  Apparently, some of these bands pay the club to get to pay, sometimes as high as $400.  It's called the naruma system.  There is one venue, Enban, that is a purist for the artists.  There is no naruma system in place and the owner lets the artists decide what they want to do and how they do it.  He books a huge variety of music and art including stand-up comics.  I immediately thought of Enban as "The Stone of Tokyo".  Not quite, but it's a space for the artists.  It's also more expensive for a patron to go to a Live House.  It might cost $25 to see your friends in an amateur band.  However, each of these little venues has an excellent sound and light system.  Here's a good article about Live Houses in Tokyo:

Anyway, I enjoyed the film and the Q&A a lot.  There is another screening in SF and then I'm not sure what. 

Here's the website, with lots of good info:

Here's a good gig list for when I make it to Tokyo eventually:
Live From Tokyo is a documentary film about independent music culture in Tokyo.

The documentary looks at Tokyo's music culture as a reflection of Japanese society and in relation to international music culture. In 2009, we find ourselves well into the iPod generation of hyper-connectivity and information culture. The Internet has become a household portal into the endless information of the world. The music industry is plummeting and listeners are accessing and treating music in a new way. Barriers that separated music cultures in the past are becoming less relevant as globalization continues to connect artists. A new paradigm of music culture is upon us. Tokyo's reputation for an overwhelming variety of global information, media-saturated urban environment and cutting edge innovation, makes it the perfect sample for addressing a new outlook on music culture.

Flexible Orchestra 2010 @ The Ukrainian Restaurant Ballroom 10/28/10

I was curious on many different levels.  I have walked by this Ukrainian place probably at least 3,000 times and I've never been in it.  I'm reading a Ukrainian novel, Dead Souls by Gogol, so it felt like it would be a good time to do it.  The 7 accordions definitely peeked my curiosity.  I wasn't the only one.  There was a large turnout and even though the space isn't small, they could have used a larger space.  They mentioned their previous shows were in a Church and they should probably go back to that in the future. 

I chose to stand and I found a spot that I could see the musicians.  However, I didn't realize my view would be blocked by a column for the dancers.  I stayed until intermission, so I got 2 music pieces and the Libretto concert suite.

The first piece was for 6 accordions, with the 7th, Guy Kucevsek the composer/conductor.  I liked it a lot. I liked how the accordions sounded like an organ at times and like strings at other times.

The 2nd piece had 7 accordions, violin, cello, contrabass, and I think one singer.  That was good, a little different.

The Libretto, entitled "French Artithmetic concert suite" was fun.  However, I really do not like high voices, especially opera voices.  Also, I couldn't really see the dancer because of the column in my way.  I did like the orchestra when I could connect.  We also had the text so we could read along, since you really couldn't understand the soprano at all.

After that, I decided it was enough.  I enjoyed it while I did, but didn't need any more.  It was interesting and different for me.  I would love to see it in a Church some time.

Flexible Orchestra 2010 / "Accordions Plus" New Music for Seven Accordions, Violin, Cello & Bass Compositions by Guy Klucsevsek, Daniel Goode, Christian Wollf & others Thursday, October 28th at 8:30pm at The Ukrainian Restaurant Ballroom / 140 Second Ave & 9th St. For more info:

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Michael Formanek @ Jazz Standard 10/27/10

I did a rare 2 set experience.  If there was any repeats in the 2nd set, I didn't notice.  This music is different every time.  Every combination of these guys and their greater circle of musicians is great and constantly different.  Each artist caught me at various times and it sounded so good all together.  It was quite enjoyable.

Tim Berne – alto saxophone, baritone saxophone
Craig Taborn – piano
Michael Formanek – bass
Gerald Cleaver – drums

Born in 1958, Michael Formanek was just 19 years old when he joined Tony Williams’ Lifetime. Since then, he’s played and/or recorded with Chet Baker, Dave Burrell, Elvis Costello, Stan Getz, Joe Henderson, Fred Hersch, Freddie Hubbard…and the list goes on. The Rub And Spare Change is the re¬markable ECM label debut of this bass virtuoso and resourceful composer. As a bandleader, Formanek is able to bring forth inspired performances from his cohorts, and this Jazz Standard one–nighter finds him at the head of a quartet that draws deep from its members’ years of shared experience.
Tickets: $20

Monday, October 25, 2010

Dave Douglas & Keystone: Spark of Being @ Highline 10/25/10

This was awesome!  Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is one of my all-time favorite books.  This was music performed live while watching an experimental film about the book.  I loved it.  I need to re-read it.  I thought it was all very well done.  The film basically gave a visual interpretation of the book.  It was probably more enjoyable if you know the book.  The music is probably great without the film.  They started with one opening piece without a visual and the rest was a different piece for each section of the film.  It's hard to describe - you had to be there.

The soundtrack has DJ Olive.  I'm not sure who we had last night.

Dave Douglas & Keystone
Spark of Being
A Film by Bill Morrison
Dave Douglas - trumpet
Markus Strickland - sax
Adam Benjamin - rhodes
Brad Jones - bass
Gene Lake - drums
?? - laptop
Music for electric sextet with trumpet, tenor/soprano sax, rhodes, electric bass, drums, and turntables. Inspired by films, written for films, both new and old.
SPARK OF BEING, the newest release from Douglas' Grammy-nominated Keystone band, is a collaboration between Douglas and experimental film-maker Bill Morrison. Spark Of Being is a film retelling the Frankenstein myth with accompanying Douglas soundtrack. Further info at Greenleaf Music.
KEYSTONE, the first DD&K studio recording, is available at Greenleaf Music as a two disc package: one CD of just the music, and one DVD containing two 1916 Arbuckle silent films with new musical accompaniment. This package was nominated for a Grammy in 2006. A live recording from Umea, Sweden from October 2005 is also available on Greenleaf Music's specially priced Paperback Series. The recording captures the band with Gene Lake, Marcus Strickland, Adam Benjamin, Brad Jones, and DJ Olive. The New York City premiere of this project took place at Zankel Hall on February 18, 2006 as part of John Adams' In Your Ear series.

SearchAndRestore Kickstarter Project

Help get the music out!  I'm spoiled, but there are so many people that would love to experience these great artists!  It's worth $25 to you, I know it is!  I see the benefits of this project reverberating.  More venues, more opportunities to see these people, more artists, etc.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Cuban Music @ Guantanamera 10/19/10

I already knew that when the stars are in alignment, meaning the "right" 4 musician combo is available, this is the only place to be. I was told it is amazing Cuban music unlike any other in the US. I am not that sophisticated in my understanding of Cuban, but it was awesome and I enjoyed it immensely.

It consists of stellar congas that compelled me to get up and dance, electric bass, keyboard, and a great guy on bongos and cowbell. You know I loved this instrumentation! The music was captivating and awesome. I'm told it's not always these specific 4 and that makes a big difference. Oh - the food and drinks were awesome so if nothing else, you are bound to have a good time and spend some money.

It was awesome! I need to look out for that Conga player! I'm trying to find out the names of the musicians. I might edit this later if so.

Upcoming: Bill Frisell 11/20

I just bought a ticket and I was surprised when TB did not tack on a bunch of extra fees.  I see this note:

Musical Portraits from Heber Springs: Bill Frisell's Disfarmer Project. Featuring Viktor Krauss, Greg Leisz, and Jenny Scheinman..

This event features an ALL-IN ticket, meaning the price you see advertised is actually the price you pay - no additional fees or service charges will be charged at check-out when you choose the online TicketFast or will-call delivery option

I like it!  Sure, I'm still paying the fees, but I prefer to know the total cost up front.  It allows me to skip the "anger step" I usually have when purchasing through TB, which I do as little as possible.  I would like to update this old post about going to the box office eventually, but it can't hurt to put a reference:
Anyway, this is one of the best spaces and this show is sure to be phenomenal:
11/20/10 New York, NY
The Concert Hall
Bill Frisell's Disfarmer Project Featuring Viktor Krauss, Greg Leisz & Jenny Scheinman

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Joe Russo Trio @ Rose 10/17/10

Yes!  It's been way too long since I've seen Joe Russo.  I'm very impressed with this trio, which was actually a quartet for this set, with the addition of a violin (or was it a viola?) I think Joe met moments before the gig.  It was awesome.  It looked like it was all improvising.  I was drawn to it due to Joe Russo and Todd Sickafoose.  Of course, it's the Guitar Festival, so the guitar is bound to good.  He was.  I have to pay attention to the listings and look out for Jonathan Goldberger he was great.  He had a lot of electronics at his feet and he used them skillfully in addition to playing the guitar.

It was an awesome show and the set was about an hour.  There was a low turnout for the festival, so they didn't even charge the cover.  I inquired about where I pay the cover and was told they would pass the hat.  There was a literal metal hat on a stand in front of the stage, ready to be filled.  I loved it, but wished they walked around with it as there was about 25+ people for this and it helps get the contributions.  It was a great band and a great set and they deserve to be paid.

Anyway, more confirmation that you now have to go to Brooklyn to be able to see everything.  There's a lot of great music that doesn't seem to be making over to Manhattan these days.

Marco Cappelli @ Rose 10/17/10

It was billed as a solo, but ended up being a duo with Adam Rudolph.  I was able to make it for the last 15 minutes and it was great. When I walked in, Adam was drumming softly and Marco had his guitar face up in his lap and a bow.  It was interesting and mellow.  Adam also played the thumb piano at times.  Marco also held the guitar in a more traditional way.

It was good and a nice thing for the first band on a Sunday evening.

Bolero Jazz @ 5C Cafe 10/13/10

It's shocking that I hadn't been to this awesome little spot at 5th and C until now. They usually have good music and I hear the food is good as well. It looks like the music is from 8-10:30 and there is a tip jar in lieu of a cover. It's a great place to hang in between sets at The Stone. They have a bar/cafe setup, which means everything a person would want.

I loved the music. They say they have different amalgamations, and my first time seeing them it was great to just be a guitar/bass duo. I was falling asleep during the 2nd set due to jetlag, so I had to leave early. This is definitely a venue to keep track of! I'm looking forward to seeing this band again.
Time Out New York (April 14, 2010)

Trudy Silver, cofounder and artistic director of 15-year-old cultural center 5C (68 Avenue C at E 5th St; 212-477-5993,, says of Bolero Jazz Wednesdays (7:30pm, free), “It’s not really a dance thing; it’s more intimate. There’s a grand piano. It’s like a living room.”

Leading the Latin-flavored musical evening is Puerto Rican bass player Joe Falcon, who has been a fixture at 5C ever since it opened its doors back in 1995. “He tells stories of life on the island, and people he’s worked with, but doesn’t make you feel like you need to speak Spanish to know what he’s talking about”

Falcon, a retired social worker, brings along singer Andrea Oliva, conga maestro Emilio Ortega and guitarist Luis Rodriguez, though each week promises a whole new lineup of musicians who share the stage with him. For some post-show nibbles, you can keep up the lowkey vibe with dishes like fresh hummus served with raw veggies, pita wedges and crostini ($10)—plus a glass of wine ($6–$10), of course.

TONY Blog: Relax Here: Bolero Jazz Wednesdays

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Aaron Parks @ Jazz Standard 10/12/10

New York! Very little comes close to the multiple stellar options we have on a daily basis. Berlin and New Orleans and probably Chicago are the only places I've been that consistently come close, but not quite.

This reminded me how great live music can be and just how spoiled I am. Everyone on the stage was phenomenal. Ted Poor is an amazing drummer. He extended his kit with a tambora. The whole set was amazing. If I wasn't so jetlagged I would have gladly stayed for the set, which they said would be different material.

It was an awesome "welcome home" show.
Aaron Parks - piano
Steve Cardenas - guitar
Ila Cantor - guitar
Matt Brewer - bass
Ted Poor - drums

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

hotROMania IV @ Porgy and Bess, Vienna, 10/8/10

This is a nice jazz club in Vienna.  You pay once (15 Euro on this night) and can stay for both sets.  Each seat is facing the stage and there are little tables interspersed.  The seats are comfy and while there's lots of seats, it isn't too tight.  There is also an upstairs with a balcony, but this night everyone was downstairs.

The first set was more straight ahead regular music with great piano, bass, and sax.  I must say I didn't notice the drums at all which probably means it was basic jazz drumming.  I would have noticed if it was bad.  The 2nd set included a pan flute that was awesome and it was traditional Romanian jazz.

It was a nice experience and I'm glad I made it there.
Florin Raducanu „Improvisation on the music on the world“ (ROM/USA)
Florin Raducanu: piano
Dalila Cernatescu: pan flute
Sebastian Mihai: tenor saxophone
Adrian Flautistu: bass
Eugen Nichiteanu: drums 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

2 violins, Street Music in Prague, 10/2010

It was one of my last days in Prague and I stumbled upon this incredible-sounding music on the street.  I was surprised to see it was just 2 violinists, playing a familiar piece, in an arched alcove in the Old Town Square.  They were selling CDs entitled "Prague Street Music".  While I loved the live experience, I personally am not that into classical covers to own a CD, but it was spectacular to listen to at the time.  I'm sorry to say I didn't get their names.

Batukatum @ Jazz Boat, Prague, 10/7/10

The city is breathtaking.  I had low expectations for the music, and chose to eat before boarding.  Judging from the food being served, that was a good move.  I did taste that Czech herbal liquor, Becherovka here.  It was very nice to be on the water and see the sites and all the ducks and swans.  I chose Latin night and it was relatively inexpensive, as is even the touristy stuff in Prague.  The music was good enough to have me moving while looking out on the water.  They ended with a fun Dizzy tune.

Samba, Bossa nova, Forro,

Roman Pokorný Fusion/Jazz Trio @ U Maleho Glena, Prague 10/5/10

This was actually blues with good guitar and bass.  Perhaps, blues-rock that got a little funky at times.  I was glad I carry earplugs with me as it was quite loud in the little space.  I stayed for one set and enjoyed it and the space a lot.  I was just tired and didn't need any more.

Roman Pokorný Fusion/Jazz Trio  - funk/fusion/crossover guit/b/br

Gabriel Coburger Quartet @ Agharta Jazz Club, Prague 10/4/10

Prague is awesome!  I'm finding lots of jazz clubs and starting to explore them.  I saw great Modern Jazz Quartet from Hamburg, Germany for my first night in Prague, the Gabriel Coburger Quartet.  They were from Hamburg, I was coming from Hamburg, it seemed right.  Gabriel plays the tenor and soprano sax and alto flute.  I especially enjoyed his flute playing.  The piano player also played vibraphones and a little piano that they say has no name.  I find that hard to believe, but perhaps.  I didn't get a good enough look to attempt to try to figure it out.  The electric bass player also played guitar at times.  The drummer was interesting.  He had a kit and then a few percussion instruments.  He played the triangle a lot, which I loved.  I enjoyed him the most.

I like the space, it has a nice feel to it.  Stone walls, little tables, nice vibe.  I thought I would make it back, but that didn't happen.  I had too much exploring to do.  There are pictures of the club and the stage on their website.  It's right by the Old Town Square, which is a great location if you are doing the tourist thing.

GABRIEL COBURGER QUARTET (D) modern jazz - ts+fl, p, g, d