Tag Archives: todd sickafoose

One Night Only: The West Village Wobble

Here’s how it should go for jazz heads in the NYC vicinity tonight. Starting at 6:30 pm and allowing for one dash to 27 & and Lex, all the action is in the left hand side of lower Manhattan. Your evening should conclude at 12:30 am.

1. JD Allen @ Le Poisson Rouge. 6:30

Dude celebrates his new disc with an early show.

2. Roy Haynes @ Jazz Standard.  7:30 pm

Dude still brims with invention, trouncing many more youthful drummers when it comes to creativity.

3. Paul Motian @ the Village Vanguard.  9 pm

Dude cracks the code of the Modern Jazz Quartet, nudges Craig Taborn to the foreground.

4. Todd Sickafoose & Mary Halvorson @ Le Poisson Rouge.  10 pm/11:15 pm

Dude behind Search & Restore curates sweet double bill that places the Tiny Resistors next to Ms. Halvorson’s ultra-elastic threesome.

Red Hook Jazz Festival – Sunday Aft!

Four sweet bands take over the Urban Meadow at the corner of Van Brunt and President Streets this Sunday – the Red Jazz Fest wraps up with a doozy of a bill.   James Carney’s Quartet, Chris Lightcap’s Big Mouth, Todd Sickafoose’s Tiny Resisters, and Harris Eisenstadt’s Canada Day all stretch out a bit.  The afternoon events begin at 1 pm. Here’s the Voice item.

Todd Sickafoose: You Can’t Resist

When I first saw Todd Sickafoose’s Blood Orange group a couple years ago, I was puzzled about where all the sound was coming from. It was a five-piece outfit, but it swaggered like a little big band, sending a scad of intersecting lines into the air to make a series of thickly-braided flourishes. Evidently that’s a signature trait of Sickafoose the composer-arranger, because the medium-sized ensemble that creates the music on Tiny Resistors (Cryptogramophone) can claim a similar victory.

For a guy smitten with elaboration, the NYC bassist builds his oft-genial, mildly exotic, and somewhat dreamy tunes from rather simple melodies that state themselves and then multiply into little labyrinths. I occasionally hear it as a blend of the late-period Lounge Lizards and Greg Osby’s Sound Theatre. John Lurie and the M-BASE gang milked orchestral ideas from intricate cross-hatches, and Sickafoose does something similar. One of the marvels of this new disc is “Bye Bye Bees,” a sweeping piece that starts out in one spot, but ends up in another. The conclusion has elements of its origin, but they’re two discrete places – nice trick. Something similar happens on “Pianos of the Ninth Ward,” a bittersweet tune that introduces itself as a simple keyboard lament but bids adieu as a brass ‘n’ reeds prayer. Slow, steady morphing is a key strategy here.

Sickafoose isn’t working in a swing vernacular per se. He grew up on rock, has spent lots of time onstage with Ani DiFranco, and claims both Tortoise and Bill Frisell as influences. Propulsion and lilt are in full effect on these pieces, however. “Everyone Is Going” manages to blend a martial undercurrent and a sweeping grace. Trumpet, trombone, two guitars, drums and some effects help from DiFranco (ukulele) and Andrew Bird (violin) make the program rich. Rather than each piece being a showcase for a specific soloist, the group is perpetually playing hot potato with shards of melody and textural colors. That’s a rather selfless tack, and this remarkable music, especially the ersatz African bounce of “Warm Stone” and the Middle Eastern blues of “Cloud of Dust,” is bolstered by the one-for-all atmosphere.  By holding hands, they’ve created something unique.

First published in DownBeat.