It’s “Jackalope” from Fred Hersch’s new live double-disc that illustrates the eloquence the pianist’s group is capable of. Bluesy tunesmithing, sideways motion, an urge the team has to put parts unknown in its sites – whenever things get iffy, they double down on grace and gumption. Recorded at the Vanguard at the start of the year, it’s quite likely to receive critical kudos at 2012’s end. This week is a chance to see how much the room has to do with the chemistry.
Kelvin On The Case
The charismatic drummer is a big-picture guy, with dissonance and beauty, melody and abstraction, and whimsy and introspection, strolling hand in hand across his music. Dispensing myriad emotions is the goal, and this trumpet/key outfit is one of his most agile bands. On An Attitude For Gratitude they veer through a Scofield Cubano-bop, turn in a bittersweet “Happy Days Are Here Again,” and connect the existential dots between bubbles and rainbows. This is the perfect room for them.
Here’s what you’re getting into.
Her hook-up with Jason Moran has become something unique: You don’t see many violin/piano front lines these days. Insiders know that they’re both agents provocateurs, improvisers who don’t let one nuance go by without considering its pliability. Scheinman has been writing fiddle tunes during the last few months. Wonder if any of their melodic esprit will find its way into the book?
photo by Kristine Larsen
Tonight’s the final night of Marc Ribot’s trio at the Village Vanguard.
Here’s what it sounds like. Here’s Nate Chinen’s take.
Here my Voice blab: Evidently this is the wily guitarist’s first gig as a leader in the venerable jazz cellar. Ribot’s rep as a big-hearted rad fits right in with the Vanguard’s lefty aesthetic, of course. His insightful improv has always made plenty of room for lyricism, so this trio’s rumble can be catchy. And can someone help out with the math? Is this the first time Henry Grimes has hauled his bass down these famed stairs since he and Albert Ayler recorded there in the ’60s?
Here’s a revealing Q&A with MR.
Jenny Scheinman’s Mischief & Mayhem turned in a provocative set last night at the Village Vanguard. The dreamy passages were mixed with gnarled spikes of sound provided by guitarist Nels Cline and drummer Jim Black. Bassist Todd Sickafoose (who needed to be brought forward in the mix) was a second percussionist as well, insightfully flecking the pieces with stabs of propulsion. It all went by in a whirl, but three memorable moments are listed below. One that almost made it: Cline morphing into the Mahavishnu Orchestra’s Jerry Goodman on “The Mite.” I believe the above clip (NOT from last night’s show) features that as well. The band plays at the famed New York club through Sunday night. Team Jackson has the stream of the performance for you right here. During the action critic Peter Hum hit the NPR comment field to deem this stuff “some of the least ‘Vanguard-y’ I’ve ever heard at the Vanguard.” Not untrue at all. But trad jazz fans will want to note Scheinman’s quoting of “Four” at the start of the pentultimate tune, a carnival mirror piece of swinging freebop that had toes tapping old-school style.
1. Opening Out
Sure, there have been moments of dissonance and abstraction at the Vanguard. But methinks few of them came in the first two minutes of the performances. The violinist and her team said hello to their West Village live audience and NPR global listenership with some splashy, dreamy, blippy, skronky salutation speak, with Cline creating some wonderful wobble and Black sending smoke signals to Steve McCall.
Scheinman’s “A Ride With Polly Jean” doesn’t parallel the raw sturm und drang that Ms. Harvey and her band has become known for, but instead offers a breezy groove. It’s a soundtrack to an effervescent conversation, and you can see the pair in your mind’s eye as the rhythm section pulses and the violinist draws out a few long tones: the ladies flying down the Coast Highway in a 55 Mercury convertible, the British rocker querying her mate about the poise of her “American Dipper” and the Brooklyn jazzer asking about the eruptions of Harvey’s “Kamikaze.”
3. Forward Motian
During the introduction of “Blues For the Double Vee” (written for the Vanguard), Scheinman mentioned that Paul Motian’s updates of Monk were also an inspiration for the piece. From behind his trap set, drummer Black launched into a power crunch version of a surf beat, and laughed a bit while yelling to no one, “Just like Paul!” The piece is a jagged rocker that sounds like the Ordinaires taking a stab a Bernard Hermann tune, so Black was waxing ironic. He was also waxing manic. His drum work – pummeling here, caressing there – was one the set’s consistent highlights.
You can get a download of a song here.
Scheinman talks about “The Mite” here.
When things get really right on the bandstand, an artist’s invention can make you shake you head in wonder: “how did he/she think of that?” And when the music is also marked by whimsy, those head-shakes can turn to chuckles. Last night at the Village Vanguard, pianist Martial Solal made me chuckle out loud seven times – that’s a damn good laughs-per-set ratio. He did so by allusion, placing snippets of other melodies into the tune he and bassist Francois Moutin were messing with. “I Got Rhythm” made room for a moment of “Caravan ” a two-note inflection in “I Can’t Get Started With You” summoned “Criss Cross,” etc. He did so by rhythmic upending. Call the octogenarian a one-man Naked City and get him a Tzadik contract: a joyous phrase would be sharply followed ponderous episode that was hooked to a giddy retort. From salon to whore house he moved through lots of turfs. His light touch and antsy demeanor conjured a confluence of John Lewis, Misha Mengelberg, and Count Basie. Dexterity and delivery were in the forefront, pure imagination was driving the action, and the chuckles just kept coming. He didn’t play “Anything Goes,” but indeed anything went. If you could use a laugh, it’s recommended that you stop in before the last set on Sunday night.
Ethan Iverson critiques Solal’s Monk commentary.
Larry Appelbaum interviews Solal (“Swing is a technique”).
Steve Futterman on Solal.
K. Leander Williams on Solal.
Ted Panken runs Solal through a live Blindfold Test.
Last night Dave Douglas celebrated his birthday at the Village Vanguard, which in a recent tweet the esteemed trumpeter correctly deemed “the Carnegie Hall of basements.” Douglas is in the West Village leading his Brass Ecstasy troupe. The gig is a celebration of sorts: United Front: Brass Ecstasy at Newport (Greenleaf) just dropped. It’s a nod to a few of the leader’s horn inspirations, including Navarro, Bowie and Rava. I watched ’em clock the performance last summer in Rhode Island, and it was sweet show, full of nuance and frolic. Dave’s added some new pieces to the book since then (one poster for the show mentioned a program of “Strayhorn, Tweedy, more”). He also recently tweeted about a tune called “My Old Sign,” about “changes to the zodiac and compatibility.” A pal texted me from the Wednesday night show and was throwing the exclamation points around. My recommendation for the Vanguard gig looks like this. You’ve still got three more nights to pack the place. The above clip finds the guys in action at chez Boilen.