Tag Archives: jazz

Danilo Pérez Panama 500 (Mack Avenue)

A fair amount of scholarship and symbolism accompanies Danilo Pérez’s new ode to his homeland. On the occasion of Panama’s fifth century the brilliant pianist applies himself to a celebration of the culture that continues to nurture his muse. Along the way he employs his ace working band, his superb rhythm section mates from Wayne Shorter’s quartet, hand percussion, pan flutes, chanting and a very agile violinist. Echoing the intrepid nature of Balboa himself (as well as the people who lives were amended by his historic arrival) Pérez steers his ship through seas both choppy and calm, coming up with a string of elaborate pieces that impress with their intricacy while wooing with their beauty.

Pérez’s piano work has always had a slippery side to it. Though he can be declarative, his lines often slide away from the phrase just rendered; ever since he viewed Thelonious through his filter in ‘96’s Panamonk, a restless if deft fluidity has guided his improvisations. Part of this new album’s charm comes from the flowing manner in which Pérez unpacks his lines. From the opening full ensemble track to the solo excursion that kicks off “The Canal Suite,” the rhythmic idiosyncrasies of the Caribbean align with established Euro designs, establishing a common ground rather quickly. “Abia Yala (America)” is equal parts chatty and formal – and all the more fetching for it.

Under Perez’s guidance, a folk dance resounds with the rigor of an étude. The apex here might be gloriously hyper “Melting Pot (Chocolito)” and its balance-beam maneuvers between arrangement and improv. The band lives this music – its vivid nature is heightened by the authority that leaps from the performance. That level of commitment bolsters the impact of several pieces. Though there are plenty of twists and turns, they’re played with the ease of 4/4 swing.

Pérez has said he sees these works in a cinematic manner, and the evocative nature of the program supports that notion. From the Guna chanting and narration to the bustle of instrumental tumult, the composer’s lyricism conjures the frolic, travails and glories of a proud people reflecting on their steady growth while appreciating their own cultural breadth.



JUNE 4: 8pm, Brooklyn’s Radegast Hall & Biergarten, in Williamsburg


“Bird-In-Hand” is the final track from Hot Cup recording artists Mostly Other People Do the Killing’s new release “Red Hot,” due out September 24, 2013.

Featuring: Peter Evans (Rising Star Trumpet), Jon Irabagon (Rising Star Alto Saxophone) Dave Taylor (NARAS MVP Virtuoso), Brandon Seabrook (2012 Best Guitarist, Village Voice), Ron Stabinsky, Moppa Elliott (Rising Star Composer), Kevin Shea (2012 Best Drummer, Village Voice)


Henry Threadgill Sextett



Butch Morris hits NYC (thx for heisted image – write me and i’ll add the credit)


Hi-Beck (Lee Konitz)
Live in Brooklyn @ Shapeshifter.
October 2012.

You’re either tight or you’re not. Mike Baggetta & Jeremy Udden sure were that night.


Hank Shteamer Talks Winter JazzFest with John Schaefer

Hank Shteamer Talks Winter JazzFest with John Schaefer

Forget 10, Here’s 20 (Best Jazz Albums of 2012)


1. Brad Mehldau Trio – Ode  (Nonesuch)

2. John Abercrombie –  Within A Song   (ECM)

3. Kris Davis – Aeriol Piano   (Clean Feed)

4. Ravi Coltrane – Spirit Fiction     (Blue Note)

5. Luciana Souza  - Duo III   (Sunnyside)

6. Paradoxical Frog – Union   (Clean Feed)

7. Ahmad Jamal  –  Blue Moon     (Jazz Village)

8. Billy Hart – All Our Reasons   (ECM)

9. Tim Berne – Snakeoil    (ECM)

10. Orrin Evans – Flip The Script     (Posi-Tone)

11. Ryan Truesdell – Centennial: Newly Discovered Works of Gil Evans  (ArtistShare)

12. David Virelles – Continuum  (Pi) 

13. Vijay Iyer Trio – Accelerando (ACT)

14. Neneh Cherry & The Thing – The Cherry Thing  (Smalltown Supersound)

15. Mary Halvorson – Bending Bridges   (Firehouse 12) 

16. Masabumi Kikuchi – Sunrise  (ECM)

17. Jon Irabagon’s Outright!  - Unhinged  (Irabbagast)

18. Darius Jones Quartet – Book of Mae’Bull  (AUM Fidelity)

19. Steve Lehman Trio – Dialect Florescent (Pi)

20. Frank Kimbrough Trio – Live At Kitano (Palmetto)

Don’t go thinking this list in any hierarchical order – Brad’s not top and Frank’s not bottom. 





Harris Eisenstadt has a couple of new ways to celebrate July 1. His Canada Day outfit is cagey in its blending of out and in, and it’s filled with soloists expert at pithy declaration. Listen to trumpeter Nate Wooley on “The Magician of Lublin,” vibraphonist Chris Dingman on “The Ombudsman 4.” They’re from new discs on the 482 Music and Songlines labels. The Octet version of the group, responsible for “The Ombudsman Suite,” moved through a very deliberate and very wise set at the Red Hook Jazz Festival a couple weeks ago. There are moments when it seems Eisenstadt’s band would have fit perfectly into the late-period Blue Note era that generated just gems as Andrew Hill’s Point of Departure and Bobby Hutcherson’s Dialogue. 

Tomas Fujiwara & The Hook Up “The Air Is Different” (482 Music)

Brooklyn has been a hotbed of creative jazz for the last several years, and it shows no sign of abating. To wit: the raucous yet architectural music of drummer Tomas Fujiwara. On The Air is Different his Hook Up quintet demonstrates its scope with a program that allows a swirl of singular motifs to have their say while still presenting a unified statement. At various points saxophonist Brian Settles growls, trumpeter Jonathan Findlayson coos, and guitarist Mary Halvorson screeches; the cagey rhythm section of bassist Trevor Dunn and the bandleader give these disparate textures a solidifying glide. Elements of swing have as much say as elements of rock, and Fujiwara’s compositions are eloquent, whether they’re musing poignantly, as they do on “For Ours,” or celebrating agitation, as they do on “Double Lake, Defined.”

Breadth is something Fujiwara is truly invested in. In the liner note he quotes Fela about rhythm’s responsibilities, and reveals inspirational sources that include Bjork, a Buddhist bell-bowl, and first 16 bars of Talib Kweli’s rhyme on Black Star’s “Definition.” The curves that mark “Smoke-Breathing Lights” – a piece about the way different people walk – is a microcosm of the program. In the middle of a 10-minute suite (of sorts) there’s an exchange between Halvorson and Settles that gives each a chance to move from stormy to sublime. Something similar happens on the title track, dedicated to Fujiwara’s grandfather, a Buddhist priest. It begins with a march feel, makes room for a knotty passage, and harks to Coltrane’s Interstellar Space with a romp between Settles and the drummer. Agility is a prerequisite for this outfit, and as the music morphs, a thesis starts to float between the passages: life’s contours are many, and you’d best be prepared for what’s around the corner.