Tag Archives: piano

Strong, Strong, Strong

Orrin Evans never goes for the oke-doke, so even when introspection is in the air, it feels like someone’s squeezing your neck. The Philly pianist is a marvel; his expressionistic tendencies are implied, which makes ’em that much more forceful – here’s a hard-swinging guy who likes to erupt while sustaining a temperament of  logic and craft.

The trio maneuvers on the new Faith In Action (Posi-Tone) kind of spill all over you, especially the genial tug-of-war  between the boss and drummer Nasheet Waits. Ben Ratliff weighed in last week. Smart of the label for making the above clip, but it needs to be longer. Here’s an interview vid about the new music.

How Was The Berkman Gig? He’ll Tell You Himself…

Who went to the gig last night? I was outta town, but I’ve found Berkman-boosting to be a rewarding hobby during the last few years and pianist’s Smalls trio with Otis Brown and Johannes Weidenmuller seemed to be inspired. Maybe we can get David to send a three-sentence critique of his own show (is he up yet?).

You remember the praise Mr Ratliff s gave DB’s latest, right? Next week Berkman’s at Sophia’s.


A Review of My Trio Gig by David Berkman

“Well, modesty forbids me talking about my playing (although I can tell you that I was quite nattily dressed in a red and white striped seersucker shirt and a Navy Jacket with cannily hidden holes in it). I guess I could just quote things I overheard people say about me. “Ponderous yet rollicking,” murmured one salivating listener. “Naive yet disarmingly decadent,” agreed his companion. “Berkman’s version of “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” brought to mind a young Henny Youngman, if Henny Youngman had played the piano and not told so many jokes,” observed an older Jewish lady. Embarrassed by such elaborate praise, I made my way through the adoring throng and went home. I have to tell you, in all honesty, Mitch (the creator of small’s and it’s gatekeeper) told me that our version of “Giant Steps” was the best he’d ever heard. Take that, John Coltrane.

I can however talk more freely about the brilliance of Otis Brown III on drums. He is one of my favorite drummers to play with and he brings a great sense of swing and adventure to every musical situation he is in. Johannes Weidenmuller was also great – he has so much rhythmic knowledge and maturity and I always feel like he is taking care of the music, guiding the band and providing the anchor we need just when we need it. For me, this was probably the best trio gig we’ve played and I am looking forward to more. Thanks to those who came out and a pox on those who didn’t. (Not a really nasty pox though–something mild. I’m not a vindictive person.)”

I think we have a new franchise on our hands. Which performing artist volunteers to be next? I’ll think of a cutesy name and be back with it in a week or so.

I, Jukebox (post-Charlie Watts scare)

Rolling Stones, Live With Me

Rolling Stones, Memo From Turner

Rolling Stones, Let’s Spend the Night Together

Rolling Stones, Sway

Rolling Stones, Rip This Joint

Rolling Stones, All Sold Out

Marcus Roberts: Change Is Now

More than a few jazz zealots are smitten with the music’s “mercurial” nature. The action starts in one place, but steadily changes along the performance route, visiting a number of intriguing spots along the way. That notion has been at the heart of Marcus Roberts’ work for several years now, and that’s what happened at the pianist’s gig at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola on Wednesday night. Though infatuated with the jazz canon, he’s more taken with satisfying his curiousity regarding a classic tunes’ architecture. So an array of well-known items – “Jitterbug Waltz,” “Honeysuckle Rose,” “In Walked Bud,” “Ba-Lue Bolivar Ba-Lues Are” – got reconstructed on the Columbus Circle stage, as they do on Roberts’ latest disc,  New Orleans Meets Harlem, Volume 1 (J-Master) .

Heard in process, many of the updates seemed episodic: singular sections made modular by the band’s predetermined design schemes and in-the-moment collective grace (Jason Marsalis is the drummer and Rodney Jordan is the bassist). Craft-wise, they also played the bejesus out their tunes, especially “One Finger Snap.” There’s a whiff of meticulousness that sometimes mars their work, but the chemistry is impressive. They use groove, they use swing, they use abstraction, they use dissonance, they use exclamation, they use humor. There were even a couple of Raymond Scott moments.

That said, the closest parallel that popped into my mind while sitting there was Air Lore, the 1979 McCall, Threadgill, Hopkins romp through the N’awlins songbook. It was one of the records that secured my love of jazz, and its interplay is damned close to what was happening at Dizzy’s. Roberts’ band is playing there through Sunday night. The clip of Ellington’s “Black and Tan Fantasy” above is from Leonard Lopate’s radio show this week. Here are Roberts and Lopate chatting about the pianist’s approach. Kick some cash toward WNYC, please. 

Make the jump for the trio’s spin through “Deep In The Shed” with the J@LC Orchestra. Here’s what Nate Chinen had to say about the MR show.

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