Bill Frisell Solo – The Stone Residency

He helms a handful of bands, and boasts a keen sense of interplay that’s no doubt prompted by the joy of working with others. But Bill Frisell digs playing all by his lonesome too, and this stretch of solo shows is sure to capture the love of melody that drives much of his work. From “Nowhere Man” to “Surfer Girl” to “A Change Is Gonna Come” to “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” the guitarist is a sentimental boomer who brings lots of emotion to a songbook that he grew up on. But the glistening filigree at the heart of his approach, along with the meaty extrapolations that are the essence of his improvising, will make these interpretations more than valentines to yesteryear. And of course, this introspective mode may open the door to some ruminative abstraction – a Frisell forte that should never be discounted.

August 8-13

8:30 pm

The Stone

 

Advertisements

Newport Jazz 2017 – Tim Berne’s Snakeoil

The attractions of tumult are many, and as Tim Berne becomes a increasingly articulate composer with each passing year, the gnarled fantasias he pens for this far-reaching quintet take on an eloquence chock with idiosyncrasy. Textural breadth is key, especially on 2015’s You’ve Been Watching Me; please say hi to percussionist Ches Smith’s timpani, guitarist Ryan Ferreira’s string skronk and pianist Matt Mitchell’s left hand cannon blasts. But aura is just as exciting. Shards of minimalism, zig-zag melodies and great gusts of abstract noir unite to tell a larger story – each is driven by a mildly crazed sense of purpose. Some sections remind me of the images Berne shot for his project, Spare, a book of photos and drawings made in cahoots with his illustrator/designer mate, Steve Byram. Snakeoil has a live CD attached to that gorgeous package as well, and when played at the right volume, it can tear your head off.

+++++++++++++++

If everything goes right, that live experience will parallel the group’s kick-off gig at the Quad stage. The band will hopefully apply itself to some of the new pieces from upcoming Incidentals (ECM) which furthers the intricacy and intensity while somehow providing more breathing room for the relentless thematic elaborations that mark the boss’s writing. I’ve been playing “Stingray Shuffle” on repeat for the last few days. Snakeoil gets better and better at calibrating momentum, and its collective whomp can be frightening.

Newport Jazz Festival 2017 Schedule  / Aug 4 – 6

Newport Jazz Fest 2017 – Vijay Iyer Sextet

Listening to the advance of the Vijay Iyer Sextet’s Far From Over (ECM) on the office stereo is one thing. The music is vivid, mysterious, roomy and imposing. Watching the pianist’s new group render the same music on stage via live stream from the Ojai Festival in early June using the family’s big-ass TV screen with audio pumping through an “entertainment” system is another. The action was kinetic, serrated, jostling, ecstatic, rife with creative friction and brimming with intent – volition has never been lacking in the pianist’s work. Meaning, catching this outfit in performance is a must. The alliance between horn players Steve Lehman, Mark Shim and Graham Haynes is fierce; seems like the leader’s arrangements script them discrete blasts of energy as often as they sketch out overt lines of melody. And the saxophonists’ solos are flat out fierce. Riding the industrious maneuvers of an established rhythm section like drummer Tyshawn Sorey, bassist Stephan Crump and Iyer himself, the three horns feel like they’re in a constant state of lift-off. Far From Over’s music gives itself some breathing room; “Wake” is a meditative mist. But the program puts its yen for propulsion up front. From the title track to “Into Action” to “Good On The Ground,” there are plenty of punches being thrown. The leader’s percussive approach to the piano, Sorey’s boom-bap punctuations – it’s a physical situation that you pretty much need to see to get the full hit. Meaning catch you at the Quad Stage at 12:40.

Newport Jazz Festival 2017 Schedule  / Aug 4 – 6

Newport Jazz Fest 2017 – Jimmy Greene

 

The fierceness that you hear in the saxophonist’s work has to do with commitment. Greene’s mainstream swing is noticeably punchy because of the way he attacks a performance. Just played “Stanky Leg” and “Stink Thumb” from the newish Flowers – Beautiful Life, Vo.l 2 (Mack Ave), and it reminded me of something that I said awhile ago. On paper they look like a standard piano trio with a horn-wielding boss. But Team Greene has several tricks up its sleeve, and in their hands the mainstream gets nudged toward the deep end. You want interaction? Be at the Fort Stage on time. They start at 11:15.

Newport Jazz Festival 2017 Schedule  / Aug 4 – 6

Newport Jazz Fest 2017 – Maria Schneider

Some music just swoops down and whisks you away. Those confronted with a lack of overt beauty in their lives need only turn to composer-arranger Schneider’s The Thompson Fields (Artist Share), a luminous meditation on her Minnesota farm roots that’s as vivid a sound portrait as Ellington’s “Harlem Air Shaft” or Mingus’ “Hell View of Bellevue (Lock ‘Em Up).” Interpreting the charts – which also salute the power of Midwest storms and the passing of two of her favorite musicians – her renowned 18-piece outfit invests in grandeur and relies on perpetual lyricism to carry the day. “I pictured each soloist as a person walking through a landscape and commenting on it,” she told the New York Times when the album hit in 2015. Schneider’s music has always been vivid, articulating moods with a singular expertise. She writes for the road, and a two-lane blacktop points towards vista after vista. She writes for the heavens and suddenly everyone in the room is swooping through the sky. The eloquence comes from Schneider‘s pen of course, but it’s enhanced by the unique calibration provided by her ensemble. Its collective flow is one of jazz’s current wonders, making the subtleties sparkle and the grander statements resound. If any outfit was made to fill the gorgeous expanse of Narragansett Bay with sound, it’s this one.

Newport Jazz Festival 2017 Schedule  / Aug 4 – 6

Newport Jazz Fest 2017 – Uri Caine

Freebop stalwarts – dudes who helped fashion the lingo from the jump – are some of my biggest heroes. Pianist Caine turned 61 this year, and he couldn’t sound any more authoritative than he does right now. He’s been honing his ideas about blending out and in for so long that they seem to be the most natural notions around. Deep swing here, hard splash there, and everywhere a sense of balance that bolsters the profound volition driving the music. He’s often changing rhythm sections, but the squad that rounds out the pianist’s Calibrated Thickness album – bassist Mark Helias and drummer Clarence Penn – are locked in tight and fashion a true group sound.  Check “Night Wrestler.” The trio works its way towards a choppy groove but still manages to keep the idea of grace right up front. The pianist grew up in the City of Brotherly Love, so his Fort Adams work with The Philadelphia Experiment (with homies Christian McBride and QuestLove along with guest turntablist DJ Logic) makes mucho sense. Their plugged-in approach uses funk as a lynch pin for daring improv, moody ambiance, and supple grooves. Just spent the morning with their 2001 joint, and it’s just as kinetic and kool as ever. Kinda klassic, even. Live, with all the syncopation and sweat uniting, this ish is fiyah.

Newport Jazz Festival 2017 Schedule  / Aug 4 – 6

Newport Jazz Fest 2017 – Marilyn Crispell

 

The pianist’s somewhat recent duet records with drummer Gerry Hemingway on the Intakt label remind just how formidable and thorny her excursions can be, but as the years pass, it’s a blend of grace and eloquence that makes Crispell’s work more and more attractive. Dynamics are her forte; she’s able to seduce by having the instrument’s full spectrum of sound land in your lap. By tapping the brakes on her frenetics of late, she’s made her poetic side that much more obvious. 2013’s Azure (ECM), with bassist Gary Peacock, had a broader emotional breadth, and a slightly sentimental feel. The 70-year-old master’s solo show in Fort Adams’ cozy Storyville room will be a portrait of intimacy. Working alone is a performance context that suits her. The 17 melodic fragments on her Vignettes (ECM) recital from a decade ago salute the power of pith, each richly rendered piece offering enough emotion to make it seem like an expedition. Hope she lands on Coltrane for a moment or two.

Newport Jazz Festival 2017 Schedule  / Aug 4 – 6