Human Metronome


Bill Charlap Trio Uptown, Downtown (Impulse!)

Making old stuff new, underscoring the eloquence of style and revealing the way tradition trickles forward
has been at the center of the Bill Charlap’s work for two decades now, and this new album makes a
case for the notion that the group gets more articulate with each
passing year. With bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny
Washington at his side, the pianist puts an original fingerprint on
the sage formulations of others. The punch and bounce that marks Gigi
Gryce’s relatively obscure “Satellite” here on their second Impulse!
album is an apt indicator. Using skill, ingenuity and teamwork, they
bring both poise to the performance while assuring that verve and
legibility are paramount.

In a nutshell, that’s the formula the group has been refining from the
get-go. But familiarity of approach isn’t a foe of creativity for this
bunch. Revered for tackling some of jazz’s most intriguing nuggets,
they provide enough panache to make each of these pieces crackle with
the kind of action that reminds how entertaining jazz can be. To some
degree, they’re an “inner-workings” band. It’s sort of impossible not
to be bowled over by the intricacies each member donates to the cause.
On “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most,” Charlap is out front
doing the talking, but the nuanced lift Washington’s brushes provide
are crucial to defining the track’s character. Ditto for the lithe
bumps his bass-playing mate places in the heart of Jim Hall’s “Bon

Sometimes things can sound miniaturized in Charlap’s music. I’m
thinking that’s because scale carries the day, keeping expressionism
at bay and trading a bounty of flourish for a parade of melodic
particulars. So be it. The utterly engaging workout they give
“Sophisticated Lady” is the essence cumulative detail.





This Shit Can’t Last Forever #RESIST

I like the flowers turning up at the end. If we fight, we’ll get out of this mess – bloodied but unbowed.

Langford at 60. Happy Birthday, Jonboy.

Four Lost Souls tour dates



The Mavericks at Rhythm & Roots Fest This Weekend

Sometimes it’s all about riding the rhythm. When the Mavericks rolled through their set at the Rhythm & Roots Festival a couple of years ago, their songs had plenty of hooks, but it was the thrust driving the action that had the crowd juiced up. When you hear ’em on the radio they’re a sing-along band. Melodies galore. But when you’re standing in front of them onstage, they’re a propulsion outfit. Shuffles, rumba, bluebeat, and swing are all part of the mix – maybe even some implied funk. And of course the kind of pop momentum that drives the insistent guitar strumming of their their update of “Here Comes My Baby.”

They’re back at this year’s R&R Fest, closing the kickoff night’s offerings, a spot meant for an act that can leave the crowd sweaty and exhuberent. Some of that fervor has to do with the charisma that pours from Raul Malo’s voice.  A powerhouse vocalist, he lets loose a clarion call when leading the band through their set. Could be a honky-tonk bounce, might be a tejano-inflected romp. There’s an operatic element to his singing, and it’s often earned righteous comparisons Roy Orbison – a mix of guts and grandeur that becomes unmistakable when he lights into a shimmering piece of balladry like the Cuban standard “La Sitiera.” Malo’s pipes are key to the Mavericks’ impact; he rides the grooves in all sorts of ways. When he flows through the lyrics of “Be My Guest,” the N’awlins swag gets nudged front and center. (Maybe that’s just what happens when your horn section includes an accordionist.) Watching him lead the band through a set that stretches from Springsteen to ska should be a blast. Wonder if they still do that crackerjack cover of Van’s “Bright Side of the Road”?

Nothing but strong music the entire weekend. Rosanne Cash, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Natalie MacMaster, Marcia Ball, Steve Riley, the Pine Leaf Boys and lots more.


Charlie Parker Jazz Fest – 2017

It always celebrates Bird. But the 2017 iteration of the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival also tips the hat to itself a bit. Sustaining a quarter-century of free annual music programing is certainly a praise-worthy achievement, and this year’s program is actually fatter than usual. Maybe the line-up is trying to parallel the impact of the iconic saxophonist’s bop lingo. From students and vets doing the “With Strings” material, to an interview (and gig) with Parker pal Lee Konitz, to a jam session, film screening and tap dance show, choices abound both uptown and down. The weekend concerts are key. Bill Saxton’s brusque beauty, Art Baron’s wily scholarship, the deep swing of drummers Louis Hayes and Terri Lyne Carrington – options are many. But don’t miss the virtuosity of Anat Cohen, and cross those fingers that the sass of Tia Fuller somehow shares onstage airspace with the blues of Lou Donaldson. As far as Josh Redman goes, well, he clocked the maestro’s “Moose the Mooche” and “Salt Peanuts” on his earliest joints years ago, so he’s always been up for a little ornithology.

Village Voice Calendar

Charlie Parker Fest   Aug 23-27


Long Live The Village Voice





Frank Lacy’s Vibe Tribe

The trombonist’s big band pits thick blues riff and against thick blues riff, weaving lines and tying knots and waving the flag for brass ‘n’ reeds frenzy. If you’re feeling glum, they can be a cure-all.
Jazz Gallery Thursday, 17 & Friday, 18.  PICK


Marcus Strickland Quartet

One of the most respected new reed players around, he’s made hay with Roy Haynes and turned head with his drumming brother. His tenor playing brims with the kind of post-Wayne savvy it takes to wax both inside and out.
Jazz Gallery. Saturday, 19.


Larry Coryell, Badi Assad & John Abercrombie:

Their “Three Guitars” ensemble is a mix ‘n’ match endeavor that succeeds through breadth and bonding. A wordly chamber vibe arises when the group really unites.
Satalla. Saturday, 19

Anthony Coleman:

The canny pianist’s interests are many; his approach to Monk and Morton is both skittish and fetching, bring an ambitious modern sensibility that’s rooted in his own Jewish blues.

Barbes. Wednesday, 16


Freddy Cole:

His hushed voice has another, somewhat unusual attribute for a ballad singer – it’s naturally jaunty. That makes you trust him, which makes makes his standards register a bit more deeply than then otherwise might.At his best? Magical.

Smoke. Friday, 18 and Saturday, 19  PICK


Marty Ehrlich Trio

The recent *News On the Rail* explains what the multi reedist can do with a mid-sized ensemble. But smaller groups are a great way to hear just how rich his own horns are. With alto, bass clarinet and flute in the mix,this outing, with Susie Ibarra on drums, might stress color.

55 Bar. Wednesday, 16 PICK


Maria Schneider:

The utterly imaginative big band composer returns to the spot where she recorded her latest disc, and the large ensemble that has been winning polls in the jazz mags will be well-tuned – they’ve just completed a string of European dates.

Tuesday, 22. Jazz Standard. PICK



James Finn + Jason Hwang

Tenor player Finn takes his formidable outcat cues from Ayler & Shepp; his recent *Plaza Del Toros* alludes to the culture of bullfighting, and there’s derring to in the music. Violinist Hwang often investigates his Asian heritage in free-improv moves.

Thursday, 17. Jimmy’s Restaurant. 43 East 7th Street.


Wynton with Strings:

Hard-driving swing is where trumpeter Marsalis shines best, but his playing is so rich these days that its earthy tone should bring something unusually fetching to this collaboration with a string orchestra. Robert Sadin conducts.
Jazz at Lincoln Center.  Thursday, 17 – Saturday, 19.


Marcus Roberts Trio:

He raised a ruckus last time through town. Loads of splash, hard, hard groove. The nuances that define the pianist’s approach are in cahoots with a sensibility that ain’t afraid to swagger. That where the rhythm section comes in…

Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola. Wednesday, 16 – Sunday, 20. PICK


Red Hot Holiday Stomp

Wynton’s *Crescent City Christmas Card* always makes the cut at my house during holiday time. This show looks to be a live update of same. Second-lining through “Sleigh Ride” could be a thrill, and I bet the team – which includes Gordon, Temperly, Goines, and a banjo player – will also romp through Jellyroll Morton.


Greg Osby:

Once a quiet renegade, now an icon of idiosyncrasy, the middle-age saxophonist has constructed his own career path and lined it with as much innovation as audiences could absorb. His choice of lines is both sage and squirrelly, and *Channel Three*, his long-awaited leap into the waters of sax trio, illustrates just how impressively odd turns can coincide with deep swing. His five night stint starts with a quartet you should try to catch and the premiere of the Tain-driven trio that’s a must.

Jazz Standard. Wednesday, 16 – Sunday, 20.


Michael Wolff & Impure Thoughts:

With tabla and tenor setting the tone, the pianist’s wide-angle view gets him to spots that others gloss over. They’ve romped through Sly, The Tempts, and Marvin Gaye himself, but as they do you hear nothing but intrepid improv in the mix.

Sweet Rhythm.  Friday, 11 & Saturday, 12. PICK



Rothenberg + Tronzo +Takeishi + Buck:

Can’t recall whether reedist Rothenberg and guitarist Tronzo have connected before, but I do know they share a dedication to flexibility. Their free jazz instincts are two of the music’s most reliable, so this quartet should catch fire quickly.
Issue Project Room. Sunday, 13. PICK


Dominique Eade:

The Boston vocalist has been covertly dropping into town of late; she’s fine-tuning a new book that blends poetic originals with personalized chestnuts, and her band is sweet indeed.
Sweet Rhythm. Tuesday, 15. PICK


Jeremy Steig

If the insistent push of swing didn’t mark each track on the new *Flute On The Edge*, I might say Steig’s current music was whimsical. It’s actually deeper and more judicious than that. But the art of play finds its way into every measure. Pianist Jim McNeeley will bring it to yet another level.

Cornelia Street. Friday, 11.


Frank Morgan

Plush bits of bop lingo stretched until their sensuousness is firmly in the foreground – the veteran alto saxophonist knows all about the dynamics of sound. And the subtleties of swing, as well.

Jazz Standard. Thursday, 10 – Sunday, 13 PICK.


Eli Degibri

Promising tenor players dot the land these days; the Israeli native sticks out because he has ways of demonstrating the heft of his lines without imbuing them with too much macho. Guitarist Peter Bernstein, who shares the front line tonight, will teach his cohorts a few lessons in lyricism.

55 Bar. Wednesday, 9


Wess Anderson – Kengo Nakamura Quintet

There’s plenty of derring do in Anderson’s alto lines; if you’re still buying his early-on marketing as a neo-con, you need to get hip.  His bassist-partner is always making the interesting harmonies bubble up, too.

Friday, 11 – Sunday, 12



The skronktronica created by Bobby Previte and Charlie Hunter occasionally gives itself over to groove. But nothing lasts forever in the very rich, mildly abstract world created by the guitarist and drummer – their intricacies are all about flux.

Tonic. Tuesday, 15.  PICK



Bebo Valdes

Now in his mid-80s, the astoundingly vital Cuban pianist is riding a bonafide come back. His simmering duet with flamenco crooner El Cigala turned lots of heads. His pairing with violinist Federico Britos was radiant, and his latest disc illustrates the continued eloquence of his big band charts and the unmistakable oomph of his descarga spirit. The term “legend” hovers over his performances, so don’t miss this rare siting. And keep an eye on that left hand.

Village Vanguard. Wednesday, 9 – Sunday, 13.


Hendrik Meurkens

In theory, the mix of Brazilian insouciance and harmonica twee that should spell trouble. But in practice Meurkens invests in enough subtlety to give his new *Amazon River* an enchanting vibe. On stage, there will an extra component to focus on: chops.

Jazz Standard. Tuesday, 8.


Ron Horton:

One of the most expressive freebop trumpeter players in town, Horton’s in the process of testing a book of tunes written for his new reeds, brass, vibes front line. A few weeks ago at Barbes, the music had a chamber-swing dignity and an explorer’s sense of vision. Trading brashness for balance, he comes up with a keen spin on animated introspection.

Kavehaz. Saturday, 5


Steve Coleman and Five Elements

Can a band be skittish and stable simultaneously? Coleman’s rigorous M-BASE antics – an amalgam of precise zig-zag melody lines and intricate cross-rhythms – offers a resounding “hell, yeah.” They’re one of the most self-assured outfits you’ll ever see.
Jazz Gallery. Thursday, 27 – Saturday, 29
Steve Swallow and the Ohad Talmor Sextet

Realized by a drummerless reeds, brass, strings ensemble, Swallow’s tunes have a chamber feel. They also have one of the most evocative natures to come down the third stream in ages. If I’m recalling correctly, they don’t play out much. Catch ’em now.
Jazz Standard, . Thursday, 27 – Sunday, 30.


Kenny Garrett Quartet

He remains one of the fiercest alto saxophonists around, a guy whose power and eloquence goad all those around him. His bandstands have a tendency to be storm centers, but isn’t having your head messed with why you hit the clubs in the first place?
Iridium. Wednesday, 26 – Sunday, 30

Nicholas Payton

Boasting the fattest trumpet sound this side of Wynton, Payton’s sleek nu-bop always guarantees one thing: a respect for sensuality. His a chops dude who’s addicted to interplay, so expect plenty of intra-band jousting.

Birdland. Wednesday, 26 – Saturday, 29.


James Carney

The pianist has swooped into town from the West Coast, hooked up with the best young jazzers we’ve got, and set up shop. He’s a breadth guy – one of his last disc’s defining tunes is entitled “Louisiana Raga” – and his horn band (Jerome Sabbagh & Josh Roseman) should elaborate on what that scope encompasses these days.

Cornelia Street. Saturday, 29


Agrazing Maze:

Drummer Allison Miller has spent 2005 stepping out as a leader and side(wo)man, and her working band can be both sketchy and thorough in an Andrew Hill kind of way. Friday, 28. Cornelia Street.


Slavic Soul Party:

For the past few weeks Matt Moran and exclamatory associates have been celebrating the release of *Bigger*. It cements their spirited Balkan/Gypsy brass band esthetic, but you’ve gotta catch ’em live to get the full hit. This is their home venue. Barbes. Tuesday, 2


Tom Harrell

One of the most beguiling trumpeters on the scene, Harrell has a 100 ways to approach the articulation of a line. That makes his modern hard bop tunes rich with options and peppered with surprise.

Village Vanguard. Wednesday, 26 – Sunday, 30 Continue reading

Ladies and Gentlemen, 15 Years Ago Today…