Herlin Riley Treme‘s The Hell Outta The Blue Note:
Need a second line to come sashaying down West 3rd Street? Riley’s your can-do man. The NOLA drummer was equal parts Connie Kay and Earl Palmer during a pithy solo with Ahmad Jamal‘s quartet on Weds night. He clattered the side of the floor tom, fizzled the high-hat, and conjured an array of kinetics that was the essence of groove. Afterward, the boss stood up from his instrument, looked at the crowd, and silently pointed his index finger at his charge, as if to say “Yeah you right.”
Greg Hutchinson Through the Looking Glass at Smalls
Arrive late and the West Village club doesn’t allow for much of a sight line when it comes to checking out the drummer’s work. But the mirror that hangs above the spot where the traps are usually placed often saves the day, and when bassist-leader Ben Wolfe was putting some of his ultra-glide swing to work during a set of new tunes being recorded for a forthcoming disc (god, is B smoove or what?), it was easy to gauge the chemistry he concocted with his percussionist. Maybe it’s the jazz version of the jumbotron.
Tom Rainey’s Heartbeat Abstractions at Korzo
Pianist James Carney was leading a quartet through a handful of free pieces, and at least twice during the evening – during ballad-esque spots that allowed for the band to float a bit – the drummer found ways to be insistent while still being suggestive. It’s a Tony Williams ploy as I hear it (recheck Spring, y’all), but Rainey wasn’t paralleling that tack, he was simply being pragmatic. In the middle of an amorphous section, a poetic repetition of pulse on the ride cymbal guided the band, architected the performance, and soothed everyone in the room.
Bill Hart’s Thespian Skills at Iridium
Jean-Michel Pilc was throwing Monk into the Beast and hitting the throttle. A twentysomething in the front row was laughing out loud because the band was flying at such a pace. Billy Hart was was giving a hot foot to all the action, and while doing so, making wildly dramatic faces. Each time a new triple-time tom-tom fill arrived, a new level of open-mouthed grin was beamed into the audience. You go to see live performances because you want to see the body language that’s central to the show. Hart puts it right out there.
Tony Williams Working On Cecil Taylor’s Synapses
Was pulling a YouTube clip for a Miles Davis birthday post on Wednesday, and heard a snippet of a Williams’ cymbal flourish that stopped me cold. Got pulled away from it by squabbling kids, and when I returned to the desk I got the notion to spin “Morgan’s Motion,” the only duet between TW & CT. At 2:03 or so, there’s a half-sec that finds the drummer trying to press roll the pianist into oblivion. Of course when the dust settles, Cecil is still firing hollow points with that left hand. It’s the kind of thing that buoys your day. Remember, Taylor’s a percussionist, too.