Yet another phenomenal year for the Winter Jazzfest in NYC. This year the venues were more spread out than ever before. It covered the west side and the east side, hovering around Bleeker. I went back and forth a few times.
I started with Michael Formanek's Cheating Heart at Culture Project Theatre. It was amazing. I also liked the theatre. In addition to the wonderful Formanek on bass, there was Chris Speed on tenor sax and clarinet, Jacob Sacks on piano, and Dan Weiss on drums.
I tore myself away to get to Le Poisson Rouge (LPR) for The Big Picture Show featuring David Krakauer. I didn't know what it was, but I felt a pull to get there. I also wasn't sure I'd get another opportunity. It was a sneak preview of this new project. They were showing film on a screen on stage and the musicians were phenomenal. It was so great. I was happy to see Greg Cohen up there on bass, I haven't seen him in ages. Sara Caswell was captivating on the violin. Adam Rogers was wonderful on piano. Mike Sarin is an awesome drummer. Rob Schwimmer was a great addition on piano. David was phenomenal on clarinet. It actually made me feel OK that I left Chris Speed for this. It was very special.
One that ended, I figured I check out the Ari Hoenig Group at Sullivan Hall. When I walked in and started making my way through the crowd, I was pleasantly surprised at how funky it was. Once I got closer, I was happy to see Wayne Krantz up there on guitar. No wonder! I hadn't known the sax and bass before, but I really enjoyed them: Tivon Pennicott and Mike League.
Next I tried to go to the Zinc Bar for some Donny McCaslin, but there was a line and it looked hopeless. I ended up back at a very crowded LPR for some straight ahead jazz from The Cookers. It was great, but the crowdedness was a bit much.
Billy Harper, tenor sax
Eddie Henderson, trumpet
David Weiss, trumpet
Craig Handy, alto sax
George Cables, piano
Cecil McBee, bass
Victor Lewis, drums
I made for across town at Bowery Electric for 40Twenty feat. Vinnie Sperazza on drums. I saw that Jacob Sacks was in it, and I always love him on piano. I recognized Jacob Garchik on trombone. Dave Ambrosio was on bass. It was a wonderful ensemble.
Then I went back to the Culture Project Theater for the Tony Malaby Tuba Trio. I walked in at a very funky part and I thought it was different than the "out there" experimental music I expected. It ended up getting more out there the longer I stayed. It was very crowded, but great. Also not quite as crowded as LPR because a lot of people were sitting. It was also set up so that you could stand and not bother anyone in various parts of the venue. It was great.
Tony Malaby, tenor sax
Dan Peck, tuba
John Hollenbeck, percussion
My final band of the night was Brian Carpenter's Ghost Train Orchestra at the Bitter End. I stayed for the entire 45 minute set. It was all of these experimental musicians playing 1920s Trad Jazz. They got a little out there at times, but mainly played the music. It was great.
Brian Carpenter, trumpet, harmonica
Andy Laster, alto, flute
Dennis Lichtman, clarinet
Petr Cancura, clarinet, tenor, alto
Curtis Hasselbring, trombone
Mazz Swift, violin, vocals
Brandon Seabrook, banjo
Ron Caswell, tuba
Rob Garcia, drums
It seemed like everything was on schedule the whole time I was there. Each band had a 45 minute set and it seemed to flow very smoothly.