Orrin Evans Quartet Birdland Friday, March 17 – Sunday, March 19 (photo by Christopher Kayfield)
With Evans, it’s all about fluency. Whatever he’s trying to sell you at the moment, be it forlorn introspection or elbows-out blitzkrieg, arrives with a persuasiveness that’s hard to resist. Meaning, give him a minute or two, and he’s got ya. To some degree it’s about craft – dynamic rudiments are essential to his work. Within a performance, within a piece, within a solo, he knows where to set off all the explosives. A couple decades of bandstand hours and a casual sense of swag will do that, and yes, Evans gets plenty of house for his efforts. But in his hands that craft invariably turns to art, because a hunger for exchange is key to that bandstand presence. Intra-group conversations run deep on his watch; questions arise and answers are expected. Evans is one of the music’s most adamant exemplars of interaction. I once called him an agitator; nothing stays still for long when he’s truly rollin’. It’s not every bandleader that offers listeners a playlist of the pieces they’re going to address during an upcoming club run, but this week the Philly firebrand did, and from Ornette’s “Blues Connotation” to his own “Spot It You Got It” and “When Jen Came In,” this Birdland hit should be action central. Caleb Wheeler Curtis, Vincente Archer, and Mark Whitfield, Jr are all on board. Leondro Pellegrino joins on Saturday night.
The Cookers Birdland Tuesday, March 14 – Saturday, March 18
The oomph driving the septet’s hard bop has an odd power, and the best way to feel its impact is to catch them live. From Billy Harper’s blowtorch tenor to Eddie Henderson’s fierce trumpet to the imposing thunder of Billy Hart’s drums, their blend of voices works in a way that makes you feel like you’re being slapped one second, caressed the next. That’s why their most recent album is accurately titled Look Out! When it dropped a couple years ago, I drove around the neighborhood with the windows down, blasting “Somalia.” It wasn’t long before the car felt like it was going to lift off into the sky. Hearing the band’s onstage ardor is the best way to experience their collective vehemence, and this Birdland gig should spotlight their post-Trane roar, splashy blues sensibility, and respect for the way passion gooses team spirit.
Jacky Terrasson Trio Smoke Thursday, March 16 – Sunday, March 20
Spent the weekend with 53 (Decca France), a record that I slept on when it flew by four years ago. There I found all the elements that made the gifted pianist’s first act such a thrilling ride back in the ’90s. The finesse Terrasson puts to use when he’s deconstructing a tune can truly amaze. The depth of his radical reworkings is sometimes hidden because of the polish that defines his group’s mission. A Terrasson trio builds sturdy through-lines as the leader reimagines melody and dynamics. The demands he makes on his rhythm section – this time round it’s bassist Burniss Travis and drummer Jeremy Dutton – are many, and they invariably feature jaw-dropping moments where quick-changes spring from nowhere, amending he action. Had my head twisted a bit by 53‘s “Mirror,” a swirl of information that refracts Bud Powell while genuflecting to Ahmad Jamal. Waxing mercurial is a long-time forte, and from hush to a hullabaloo, the stage is where Terrasson reveals himself most. Flux continues to be his brand.
Matt Pavolka Quartet Nu Blu Monday, March 20
Put your arms in front of your chest so your hands are facing each other. Open your fingers and unite them in a cross-hatched bond. Now squeeze ’em and make ’em tighter. That’s what happens between keyboardist Santiago Leibson and guitarist Ben Monder in Pavolka’s electric outfit. The band I saw most often last year is the band that also delivered the biggest punch. The bassist’s thematic material guides his squad through the garden gate, and the pathway is always recognizable. But he’s a leader who lets the improv speak for itself, and it ain’t long before they’re making Birds of Fire maneuvers, whirling, writhing, reacting to each other’s subtlest inflections as they soar. The engine is Allan Mednard, a drummer who can tell you three stories at once. Wait, better make that four.
OTHER ITEMS OF INTEREST
Avram Fefer’s Juba Lee Quartet Ibeam Sunday, March 19
Dana Lyn’s Baby Octopus Owl Music Parlor Thursday, March 16
James Carney Quartet Barbes Tuesday, March 14
Caleb Curtis Trio LunAtico Tuesday, March 14
Spin Cycle The Django Wednesday, March 15
Ben Wolfe Trio The Django Wednesday, March 15
Johnathon Blake/Ravi Coltrane/Dezron Douglas Bar Bayeux Wednesday, March 15
Darren Johnston Conduction Orchestra Main Drag Wednesday, March 15
Tim Berne/Tom Rainey/Gregg Belisle-Chi Lowlands Thursday, March 16
Lucian Ban / Mat Maneri Transylvanian Concert Barbès Saturday, March 18
Lena Bloch’s Feathery IBEAM Thursday, March 16
Peter Evans’ Being & Becoming Roulette Thursday, March 16
Scott Robinson/Adam Kolker/Jeremy Stratton/Kayvon Martin Bar Bayeux Thursday, March 16
Tim Berne’s Bat Channel Bar Bayeux Friday, March 17
Kevin Sun Trio Lowlands Tuesday, March 14
Brian Blade’s Lifecycles Village Vanguard Tuesday, March 14 – 19
George Colman Quartet Smalls Monday, March 13 – Tuesday14
Eric Alexander Cafe Bohemia Thursday, March 16
Darius Jones Bar Bayeux Saturday, March 18
Briggan Krauss 440 Gallery Sunday, March 19
Geoffrey Keezer Trio The Django Sunday, March 19
Matt Pavolka Quartet Nu Blu Monday, March 20
Danny Fox Trio Mezzrow Sunday, March 19
Peter Watrous Bar Bayeux Friday, March 17
The Mezzthetics & James Brandon Lewis Trio Le Poisson Rouge Monday, March 20
Dayna Stephens Cafe Bohemia Sunday, March 19
Bob Stewart Quartet LunAtico Monday, March 20
Avram at Ibeam?
oops meant to kill that in one of the pre-publish edit iterations. will do so now. thx hawk eye.