The celebrated pianist leads a band that generates marvelous moments as a matter of course. Iyer’s unique design sense always finds novel ways for their interactions to be rendered, so flourishes may be whispered and hip-hop beats may swing like some Philly Joe Jones groove. His scope of inclusion includes art and pop, meaning Michael Jackson, Flying Lotus, Henry Threadgill and Duke Ellington pieces are likely to surface between the craggy and provocative originals. Their mighty Accelerando was 2012’s consensus album among critics – long story short, this is the piano trio to beat right now. In a cozy room like the Standard, they’ll truly rattle a few minds. Keep your ears on the rhythm section of bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Marcus Gilmore, they’re constantly feeding the boss a stream of implosive ideas.
Darcy James Argue launched the site for Brooklyn Babylon, his multi-media collaboration with visual artist Danijel Zezelj. It unites projected animation, live painting, and an original score performed by Argue’s ever-impressive big band, Secret Society.
A Blog Supreme reported on the Jazz Audience Initiative’s provocative finding about the demographics of jazz ticket-buyers. Kids & kash are the koncerns.
Chris Barton says that the Joni/jazz affair in L.A. was a success in the large. I would like to have seen Kurt Elling bounce through “The Dry Cleaner From Des Moines.”
Nate Chinen guided us in the right direction vis a vis New York jazz options during the next seven days. He also reflected on some of the music that changed his life.
@peterhum found a restaurant called Thelonious Monkfish and @destinationout and others messed around with the #jazzrestaurants meme for a bit. A certain gentleman might have won with “Lenny White Castle.”
A new short-form documentary about David S. Ware was announced. “I work on concepts,” says the saxophonist. He also plays “My Ship” quite nicely. Doc hits right here on August 30. New solo disc Organica, comes out on AUM Fidelity on October 25.
Terrell Stafford was applauded by his Temple bosses for helping kids on the edjumacation trip. A simple spin through this baby right here would teach young trumpeters a thing or two as well.
Tom Hull applied a grade to a long list of new discs. I agree with him on the Eliane Elias title (not the “pale and purple” part, the guitar and percussionist part), but I would have nudged Chris Dingman’s disc a tad higher. Phil Freeman scrutinized the SFE’s extended work on Clean Feed, Positions & Descriptions.
@geniusbastard reminded his twitter stream that Kind of Blue dropped on August 17. I played “Blue In Green” for the 12,134th time, and asked people to weigh in on their favorite moments from the disc.
Improvisers from the Pine Tree State brought Ellington to the hinterland. Maybe Bill McHenry will work some Duke into the set when he plays at the Barncastle, in Blue Hills, Maine, tonight. He’s joined by RJ Miller and fried shrimp addict, Jamie Saft. Did they get free rooms?
I visited Ahmad Jamal’s New England home about a year ago, and the two Steinways spooning together in his music room (a sizable space with a barn-like vibe) started me thinking of pianists who the maestro could invite over for a duet session. The dream candidates are many. Barry Harris, Kenny Barron, Anthony Davis, and why not Cecil himself (anyone got a copy of the dual interview I did with Taylor and Jamal back in the late 80s? I can’t find mine.) From Hank Jones hooking up with John Lewis, to Muhal Abrams and Amina Myers finding their way “Down the Street From The Gene Ammons Public School,” twin keyb dates are a hoot.
The summer always fades away on a strong note for jazz buffs in proximity of NYC. At the annual Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, audiences uptown and down think of Bird and absorb inter-generational programs that illustrate how far the music’s come. This year the whomp of McCoy Tyner’s piano, the whisper of Jimmy Scott’s vocals, and the wiles of Jason Moran’s Bandwagon interplay (Nasheet Waits!!) mark the Harlem happening. On the Loisaida, the designated veteran is the ingenious James Moody (check “Along Came Betty” from that 4B joint), the riveting Vijay Iyer Trio (kinetics as swing, lyricism as raison d’etre), the seductive Catherine Russell (who gets extra points for informality masking depth), and the never-not-fierce JD Allen Trio (they recently stood a Newport audience on its head). The whole thing is free, too.
Saturday, August 28: Marcus Garvey Park Mount Morris Park West between 121st and 123rd streets.
Sunday, August 29: Tompkins Square Park 500 East 9th Street.
3 pm both days. 212-360-2777
Nels Cline, Dirty Baby (Crytogramophone)
Avishai Cohen, Tirveni (Anzic)
Tom T. Hall, Places I’ve Done Time (Universal)
Mike Pride’s From Bacteria To Boys, Betweenwhile (AUM)
Nicholas Urie, Excerpts from An Online Dating Service (Red Piano)
It’s a blast to hear Anthony Coleman romp through Jellyroll Morton. A few years ago, just after the 53-year-old pianist with the modernist tendencies began essaying the New Orleans master, I chatted with him about the music’s impact on contemporary ears and the character of the iconic composer himself. Below are some snippets. Coleman takes to the 88s at Barbes on Sunday night, part of the Carefusion Jazz Fest.
WHEN DID YOU FIRST TURN TO THIS MATERIAL?
Several years ago, in Brussels, [where someone was curating a program of] new people playing old stuff. They asked me to do Morton and James P. Johnson. I realized that if I played parties or benefits, it would be interesting [to know these pieces] – different than what people would expect I’d play. But after doing a whole evening of it, I thought, “This sucks, if I’m going to do this, I need to do it properly, really well.”
BUT YOU ALREADY HAD A GRIP ON THE EARLIER MASTERS FROM GROWING UP?
When I was young, I was very canonical. I explored the whole pianist/composer thing thoroughly before I was 18. Knowing some of this other stuff drew me to Jaki Byard, and I began to study with him.
DESCRIBE THE ESSENCE OF MORTON’S WORK.
He let’s syncopation tell the story. He doesn’t do that much about “getting hot.” He cares about dynamics a lot, but he’s very involved with understanding the rhythmic elements that do or don’t make something swing. And he calibrates the syncopation; they go in a certain line – it’s something very consistent in his music. Check “Hyena Stomp” on Library of Congress. Each time he goes around, he stresses more of the elements that make jazz jazz. Check “Froggie Moore.” You can see he’s a serious theorist. Ellington did lots of things with color, gesture, and register. Morton has no extravagance, in a way. When you think about what people listen to for pleasure, I haven’t known too many people who are into Morton. And its because he lacks color and extravagance. He’s kind of austere. When he uses humor, he’s so NOT funny. There’s a quality of joy in Armstrong, Ellington, Waller. There, the joy is palpable. When Morton tries that, it comes out with the false gaiety of a carnival or sickly, like a failed vaudeville routine.
WHAT ATTRACTS YOU MORE, THE RHYTHM OR THE MELODY?
I’m getting off on all the elements, it’s a whole geschalt. They move so logically, and they’re swinging. But they’re also conservative. When the right hand is going and the left hand is going, it feels like a whole marching band in one piano. But the mechanics are only one of many elements that draw me to him. One of the statements about jazz that influenced me the most was when Albert Ayler said that he jumped from Sidney Bechet to free jazz – that bebop was not interesting to him. He made that connection between the ‘20s and free jazz, which is a connection that’s always meant a lot to me.
WHAT KIND OF REACTION DO YOU GET FROM AUDIENCES?
People love it. I don’t think about which part of Morton is emotional and which is intellectual, but I do know the audience loves it. They go nuts for it, in fact. But Morton is tough. If you get him you get him. If you don’t you don’t. I love it all. The WORST Morton record I love. If you’re playing very modern or post-modern thing, and then you play something from the 20s, it’s almost a no brainer that the audience is going to go wild. “Hey, he plays that old shit, man, fantastic!” You don’t even have to play it well. My problem is that I hate revival jazz. I come to Morton out of loving him for 35 years and wanting to do him justice. And by the end of it, it’s going to take me…I don’t know where. It’s already taken me to piano lessons again – first time since I was a kid. Wow. I just want to be able to inhabit the music more objectively, like a classical interpreter does.
There’s no maybe about it. Vijay Iyer‘s Historicity is going to show up on several “best of 2009” lists. Why not spend the afternoon with it? But absorbing the music on the bandstand is always the way to go if possible, and those close to New York’s Jazz Standard should put some energy into catching the pianist’s final show there this evening.