Category Archives: jazz


Turn Around And Run

Anthony Braxton Interview

Ryan Truesdell’s Gil Evans Project  @ the Jazz Standard 13 – 18  

The bandleader earned massive props from fans, critics and Grammy voters when his first edition of Evans tunes dropped a couple years ago. God is in the details – the performances were made even more eloquent by original manuscripts of the iconic composer-arranger’s work that Truesdell found while investing all things Evans. Now he and his large ensemble are recording a second album live this week, and it too will feature some newly-found pieces. Precision and dynamics are their calling card, but Gil’s big heart will be front and center in these performances.

7:30 pm & 9:30 pm $30. Jazz Standard. 116 East 27 Street. 212-576-2232. MACNIE


Taylor Rockin!

Ryan Truesdell “Centennial”


Jazz repertory is full of options. Some interpreters take a classic piece and bend it, personalizing the texts with new designs. Others make a point of reveling in the original luster – marveling at the architectural essence. Ryan Truesdell is in the latter camp with his elaborate nod to Gil Evans, Ryan Truesdell Presents Centennial: Newly Discovered Works of Gil Evans (Artist Share). Working as copyist for bandleader Maria Schneider, a devout Evans acolyte, Truesdell caught Evans fever and delved deeper into the revered composer/arranger’s work, ultimately unearthing a handful of unrecorded scores. That’s strong scholarship, but the joy of the resultant music brings is even more important.

Evans, of course, is known for the poetry he brought to the fore on a flurry of Miles Davis collaborations, including 1960’s Sketches of Spain (their association began with landmark Birth of the Cool sessions). His work is marked by a lightness of timbre that somehow leaves room for a wealth of gravitas. The 10 tracks Truesdell displays have enough of an emotional arc to account for Evans’ myriad approaches. The opening “Punjab” boasts a tabla, an air of mystery, and an open-ended feel. “How About You,” a chart that Evans used during his stint with Claude Thornhill’s Orchestra in the 40s, is springy and grooving. The spin on Kurt Weill’s “Barbara Song” is as seductive as music gets, with Joe Locke’s vibraphone adding to the music’s nuanced majesty. “Beg Your Pardon,” one of three vocal tracks that nicely divide this lengthy program, is the oldest piece on the disc. It’s a romantic ditty dressed in gorgeous swirls of brass and strings.

Truesdell’s adherence to Evans’ pen is resolute. There are improvised moments here, but the script is king. Zeal wafts through the music, like everyone’s committed to nailing the innumerable subtleties. That’s a winning tack, because unity is key to a big band’s success. As the buoyancy spins this 32-member ensemble towards eloquent heights, their bonding becomes the music’s background virtue. Gil would have respected that.

Yes, I Went To The Newport Jazz Festival

I haven’t been Lamenting in several months, I’ve been Tumbling. So, it’s fair that lots of people asked if I went to the Newport Jazz Festival last weekend. Indeed, I did.

10 Best Things About the NJF, Day One

10 Best Things About the NJF, Day Two

Check John Hollenbeck’s Claudia Quintet + 1 

Tumblin’ Along


NRB2: Terry Adams’ New Brood Hits NYC

We got the sad news about the passing of Tommy Ardolino yesterday morning. The NRBQ drummer was a perpetual wonder, the hard-hitting bottom of a rhythmically sophisticated band that made complex maneuvers – combining swing’s glide with rock ‘n’ roll’s thwap – seem as easy as pie. Moon Pie, too be exact. My Facebook comment was something like “he was determined to bring pleasure to every gig.” There’s no question about that.

The beloved outfit has been adrift for a while. A health crisis hiatus turned into a dangerous fissure and then into an insurmountable crack from what I hear. Joey lives on the Cape and plays strong music with Johnny under the name the Spampinato Brothers. Al, who left long ago, lives in Nashville, writes hits for chart dudes and shows up for occasional reunion fests in Western Mass. Terry has won a fight with cancer and has recently morphed his well regarded Terry Adams Rock & Roll Quartet into NRBQ – a gutsy move, and quite a legend to live up to, of course; the Q is one of the most revered rock groups around, so no wonder lots of people have their eyebrows raised about the nomenclature thing. There was a big story on the transition in the Boston Globe, and Adams was cast as a guy defending a controversial decision. On the newish Keep This Love Goin’ (Clang!) the band drives through a bunch of songs that are cut from the classique Q template. They’re jumping and fun, odd and entertaining. They tip the hat to zydeco kingpin Boozoo Chavis and raid Tin Pan Alley for “Gone With The Wind.”

Opinions differ as to whether the music is in the same ballpark as the group’s best work. One thing’s for sure: Adams is a charismatic bandleader who turns the stage into a hotbed of grooves. Jazz here, rockabilly there, pop all over the place. He knows a mess of tunes, and is a sage filter when it comes to connecting the dots.  His new associates are an energetic lot.  New Yorkers can sample the stuff for themselves at Iridium on Tuesday, 17 and Wednesday, 18. The group comes complete with the Whole Wheat Horns, this time around master trombonist Art Baron and wily tenor saxophonist Klem Klimek blending together. Wouldjaifyoucould? That’s good.

De Drums Are Silenced: RIP The Owl of Cranston

So Long to a fellow Rhode Islander. Kelvin chatted with Paul Motian for this piece.  Steve Futterman recalls Motian’s impact here.