Tuesday, August 28, 2007
The Blue Note is giving away a few pairs of tickets on select nights for this week's show, the double feature of Don Byron Ivey-Divey Quartet + Eldar.
Tickets will be given away for the 10:30pm sets on Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday of this week.
To enter, email your name, phone number, and the night you wish to attend with your guest to
Songs That Are Keyed to Slipping, Sliding and Quivering
By NATE CHINEN
Published: August 29, 2007
Jazz musicians often title their songs offhandedly, with a kind of disinterested shrug. The pianist Matthew Shipp puts more thought into the process, judging by a few of his recent compositions. “Slips Through the Fingers,” for example. Or “Sliding Through Space,” or “Quivering With Speed.” All three titles appear side by side on Mr. Shipp’s new studio album.
On Monday night, to celebrate the release of the album — “Piano Vortex” (Thirsty Ear), yet another kinetic phrase — Mr. Shipp led his trio through two sets at the Blue Note. The first took the form of a persuasive suite, with no momentum-sapping interruptions. It also underscored the functional bond between Mr. Shipp and the rhythm section of Joe Morris on bass and Whit Dickey on drums.
Mr. Shipp puts a high premium on slippery subversions; his obduracy has more to do with artful dissonance than with blunt impact. Near the middle of the set, on a theme called “The New Circumstance,” he chimed a series of spiraling chords in 7/4 meter. With bass and drums rustling fast beneath him, that passage momentarily evoked the pianist and composer Andrew Hill.
Elsewhere there were dark rumbles, slow-building crescendos and the occasional spry syncopation. One engaging section delivered the boppish pianism of Bud Powell. Throughout the set Mr. Shipp guided the trio with both hands on the keyboard, allocating equal time to portentous chords and silvery arpeggios.
Mr. Morris, an esteemed avant-garde guitarist, is less authoritative a bassist than William Parker, Mr. Shipp’s longtime collaborator. Putting aside that unfair comparison, Mr. Morris was effective as both foundation and foil: in his spidery walking bass lines, especially, he imbued the music with a useful twinge of unease. His bowing was more of an outright irritant, perhaps not entirely on purpose.
Mr. Dickey was more responsive in his interactions, creating a dialogue with both bass and piano. Texturally, he enlisted everything from a raspy murmur of brushes to a fierce bashing of cymbals, as warranted by the flow of improvisation. And he was the picture of composure, often sitting motionless, except for an octopus-like undulation of limbs.
As is often his custom, Mr. Shipp closed the set with a familiar theme. Here it was “Someday My Prince Will Come,” the Disney-generated waltz that Miles Davis helped transform into a jazz standard. Mr. Shipp subjected it to some barbed pointillism, seemingly with a purpose in mind.
Where most interpretations of the song focus on its sense of dreamy longing, this one convincingly sounded a note of anxiety. So that “someday” in the title felt a bit less comforting. Suppose the prince’s name is Godot and you get the idea.
Friday, August 24, 2007
Published: August 23, 2007
Among other things, the bassist Dave Holland specializes in a sly manipulation of scale. Over the last few years he has led two successful ensembles: a quintet powerful enough to sound much larger, and a big band agile enough to feel much smaller. His new six-piece group appearing at the Blue Note this week occupies a flexible middle ground.
Dave Holland performing at the Blue Note. This is the band’s second appearance in New York. This band has played in New York just once before, in January, and doesn’t yet have as solid a footing as its precursors. Its first set on Tuesday night felt a bit like a warm-up, starting cautiously and moving toward a more rewarding sense of near-abandon. Along the way there was ample opportunity for each musician to make a strong impression.
For the trombonist Robin Eubanks and the trumpeter Alex (Sasha) Sipiagin that meant improvisation in a heroic mode, steeped in proficiency and clarity. But the more engaging soloist was the alto saxophonist Antonio Hart, whose playing conveyed an additional sense of expedition, and a temperament both restless and soulful. Mr. Hart does solid work in Mr. Holland’s big band, but here he has the space and elasticity he needs.
The rhythm section, consisting of Mr. Holland with the pianist Mulgrew Miller and the drummer Eric Harland, worked commandingly. The central bond, between bass and drums, was especially impressive. Mr. Harland brought an inventive ebullience to his role, using toms and cymbals (and tabla, tambourine and shakers) for the purposes of texture as well as propulsion.
That variety helped animate the tunes, which seemed to have been uniformly built from the ground up. In most cases there was a repetitive bass line at the root, and a melody paired with countermelody, producing a question-and-answer effect. And the song forms stubbornly avoided symmetry. “Equality” was the only piece in a common meter, and even then its 16 beats were parsed unevenly, as five plus five plus six.
These devices are characteristic of Mr. Holland, whose career took flight in the 1970s, initially encompassing fusion with Miles Davis and free jazz with Sam Rivers. A few months ago Mr. Holland reunited with Mr. Rivers, the august multireedist, for a major concert. Here he offered “Rivers Run,” which ended the set on a triumphant note. The first section was impressionistic, with some Middle Eastern modalities that Mr. Hart mined in an incantatory vein. Then came a virtuoso solo by Mr. Holland. What followed was no less dazzling: a feverish turn by Mr. Eubanks, an explosive showcase for Mr. Harland, and a plangent, straining essay by Mr. Sipiagin. Finally the tune drew to a halt, with a full-ensemble flourish. Hitting its mark, the band sounded many times its size.
The Dave Holland Sextet continues through Sunday at the Blue Note, 131 West Third Street, West Village; (212) 475-8592.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
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Mr. Holland and alto saxophonist Antonio Hart get into it
Eric Harland on the kit
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Monday, August 20, 2007
Friday, August 17, 2007
"The goal of Delirium Blues is to re-examine various takes on the blues, from the Mississippi Delta and Texas to the urban funk of Memphis and Detroit, all from a jazz perspective. To that end, Mr. Werner and producer Jeff Levenson (who is recording the project for release on the Blue Note's label, Half Note Records) have assembled a crack team of four horns and four rhythm players, all of whom are equally versed in the intricacies of bebop and the fundamentals of American roots music." - Will Friedwald
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Thursday, August 16, 2007
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
The Blue Note is giving away a few pairs of tickets on select nights for this week's show, Kenny Werner & Roseanna Vitro's Delirium Blues featuring Randy Brecker, James Carter, John Patitucci, Adam Rogers, Ray Anderson, Geoff Countryman & Rocky Bryant.
Tickets will be given away for the 10:30pm sets on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday of this week.
To enter, email your name, phone number, and the night you wish to attend with your guest to
Friday, August 10, 2007
Thursday, August 9, 2007
"...At least for a while, focus on him, not the pianist. He plays the tonic of a chord, then a hint of a scale, then he might pluck the same note repeatedly through a chord change just to hear how the overtones blend, then a few notes that float free of structure, that just evoke the mood of the song. He does all this seamlessly. You can’t feel the gears shift, unless he wants you to feel it, for some effect; he traces swirls in directions that are unpredictable but, once they’re laid down, seem inevitable; and he never loses track of time. This is the meaning of musical mastery."
and his preview of the Invitation Series: http://blog.stereophile.com/fredkaplan/080407jazz/
Monday, August 6, 2007
Friday, August 3, 2007
Charlie Haden’s Piano Duos at the Blue Note, August 7-12
Contributed by Andrea Canter, Contributing EditorLiving Legend of jazz bass Charlie Haden hosts an “Invitational Series” of piano duos over the coming week at the Blue Note in Manhattan (August 7-12). His partners will include a cross generational mix of outstanding keyboardists, including Kenny Barron (August 7), Ethan Iverson (August 8), Paul Bley (August 9) and Brad Mehldau (August 10-12).
Considered one of the greatest-ever jazz bassists, Charlie Haden’scareer spans five decades. As a mere toddler in his native Shenondoah, Iowa, Charlie sang on his parents’ country & western radio show, and started playing bass in his early teens. Since arriving in Los Angeles in the late 50s where he first performed with Art Pepper, Hampton Hawes, Dexter Gordon, and Paul Bley, Haden has proven himself to be one of the most creative jazz musicians. His work with Ornette Coleman was visionary, as was his work with Keith Jarrett and Carla Bley, with whom he founded the seminal project, the Liberation Music Orchestra, in the late 60s. He later was a founding member of Old and New Dreams. Haden has since explored world music, film noire, performed in acclaimed duo with Pat Metheny, and has maintained Quartet West over two decades.
For his stint at the Blue Note, Haden has invited a series of pianists who have made diverse contributions to modern jazz:
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Haden was invited to establish the jazz studies program at California Institute of the Arts in 1982. Among his many honors are the Los Angeles Jazz Society prize for “Jazz Educator of the Year,” two Grammy Awards (and many nominations), winning myriad Down Beat readers and critics polls, a Guggenheim fellowship, four NEA grants for composition, France’s Grand Prix Du Disque (Charles Cros) Award, Japan’s SWING Journal Gold, Silver and Bronze awards, and the Montreal Jazz Festival’s Miles Davis Award.
Philadelphia has spawned many jazz legends, and Barron is no exception. First discovering the family’s old upright piano as a young child, he began playing by ear, turning professional as a teen in Mel Melvin’s band, alongside his late brother, tenor saxophonist Bill Barron. He then joined forces with Philly Jo Jones before moving to New York at 19 to work with Roy Haynes, Lee Morgan and James Moody. Hired by Dizzy Gillespie, Barron developed his affinity for Latin and Caribbean rhythms during his five years with the bop trumpet master. Working with Yusef Lateef in the 70s, Barron developed his improvisational skills and was encouraged to complete his education, earning a BA in music from Empire State College and taking a position on the faculty of Rutgers University, which he held until 2000. His prolific recording career took off in the mid 70s, and he has now appeared as a leader on over 40 recordings. Collaborations in the late 70s with Ron Carter and Buster Willliams, and in the 1980s with Charlie Rouse (“Sphere”) and Stan Getz, culminated in the Grammy nominated People Time in 1992, which was followed by eight more nominations over the next decade. Barron has consistently been named Best Pianist of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association and was a finalist for the Danish Jazzpar International Jazz Prize in 2001. Possessing what the Boston Herald describes as “one of the most fertile imaginations and pleasing sounds in jazz,” Barron cites Tommy Flanagan and Hank Jones—their “light touch, very lyrical”—as primary influences, as well as horn players such as Wayne Shorter.
Paul Bley (August 9). A Montreal native long-associated with the avant-guard and celebrated for his pioneering work with synthesizers in jazz, Bley started out on violin, moving on the piano and graduating from the McGill Conservatory at age 11. Before moving to New York to study composition and conducting at Julliard, he had replaced Oscar Peterson as the pianist at the Alberta Lounge and had founded the Montreal Jazz Workshop. By 20 he had recorded with Oscar Pettiford, played with Charlie Parker, and formed a trio with Charles Mingus and At Blakey. In the late 50s he formed a quintet with Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, Billy Higgins, and Charlie Haden, and also played with Sonny Rollins, Lester Young, Chet Baker and Jimmy Giuffre. Bley became a member of the latter’s famed trio in the early 60s as well as Rollins’ quartet, and went on to participate in the Jazz Composers Guild with first wife, Carol Bley. During the 60s he also played and recorded with his own acclaimed trio with Gary Peacock and Paul Motian. In the 70s he became a proponent of synthesizers and electronic keyboards, playing often in duo with vocalist (second wife) Annette Peacock. His Scorpio electronic project fostered the recording debuts of Pat Metheny and Jaco Pastorius. Later in his career, Bley formed a video recording company to promote live jazz performance (Improvising Artists, Inc.), joined the faculty of the New England Conservatory of Music, and has continued to record and perform. In Downbeat (1985), Jon Balleras noted, "A charter member of the jazz avant garde, pianist Paul Bley has stood steadfast, even during his experiments with electronic keyboards, in the service of his own demanding music.”
Brad Mehldau (August 10-12). One of the most formidable pianists of his generation, Brad Mehldau studied with Fred Hersch, Kenny Werner and Junior Mance at the New School in New York. Strongly influenced by Coltrane and Jarrett, he held the piano chair for Joshua Redman in the mid 90s before forming his acclaimed trio with Larry Grenadier and Jorge Rossey (replaced later with Jeff Ballard). Both an improviser and formalist, Melhdau has recorded and toured with Charlie Haden and Lee Konitz; and played sideman to Wayne Shorter, John Scofield, and Charles Lloyd. His key collaborators in recent years have included guitarists Peter Bernstein and Kurt Rosenwinkel and tenor saxophonist Mark Turner. Beyond jazz, Mehldau has appeared on Willie Nelson’s Teatro and singer-songwriter Joe Henry’s Scar, provided music for films including Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut and Wim Wender’s Million Dollar Hotel, and composed an original soundtrack for the French film Ma femme est une actrice. Recent projects have included a commission from Carnegie Hall to compose and perform songs for voice and piano, featuring the classical soprano, Renée Flemming (Love Sublime), and duo and quartet recordings with Pat Metheny. He also appears on the late Michael Brecker’s posthumous release, Pilgrimage.
This special week at the Blue Note warrants repeated visits—at least four to enjoy Charlie Haden’s collaborations with each of these titans of the keyboard.
The Blue Note is located in Greenwich Village at 131 W Third St. (between 6th & MacDougal); 212-475-8592; www.bluenotejazz.com.
By THE NEW YORK TIMES
CHARLIE HADEN INVITATION SERIES: Just over a decade ago, the bassist Charlie Haden played a drummerless New York nightclub engagement with the pianist Kenny Barron. The results were recorded for a sparkling album, “Night and the City,” that came on the heels of an exquisite effort with a different pianist: “Steal Away,” featuring the venerable Hank Jones. And those two releases, both on Verve, are hardly exceptions in the discography of Mr. Haden, above, who has always found comfort and inspiration in the intimate art of duologue. So when he settles in for a series of piano-bass duets next week at the Blue Note, Mr. Haden will be acknowledging his own history, as well as building a new bridge or two. The run begins on Tuesday with Mr. Barron, who has lately been delving deeply into Brazilian music; expect at least one sumptuous bossa nova. On Wednesday the bench belongs to Ethan Iverson, who has more than once used the blog of his band the Bad Plus — thebadplus.typepad.com — for ardent pro-Haden propaganda purposes. (He once appraised Mr. Haden’s all-duet album “The Golden Number,” released on A&M in 1976 and now out of print, as “one of the very greatest jazz records.”) Thursday’s pianist is the drier-than-vermouth legend Paul Bley, an associate of Mr. Haden’s for many years, as well as a direct influence on Mr. Iverson and many others. And finally, next weekend will involve three consecutive nights of the ever-lyrical Brad Mehldau, who shared billing with Mr. Haden and the alto saxophonist Lee Konitz on a scintillating pair of Blue Note albums recorded at the Jazz Bakery in 1996 (just a couple of months before Mr. Haden recorded “Night and the City” with Mr. Barron, in fact). Of course it’s tempting to toss around other names that could have made the lineup — Carla Bley and Gonzalo Rubalcaba have recently done fine work with Mr. Haden, and naturally there is Mr. Jones — but that would be downright churlish. What’s there will be plenty: more than enough elevated conversation for anyone to absorb fully, though a few hardy souls may try. (Tuesday through Aug. 12 at 8 and 10:30 p.m., Blue Note, 131 West Third Street, Greenwich Village, 212-475-8592, www.bluenotejazz.com; cover, $30 to $45 at tables, $20 to $30 at the bar, with a $5 minimum.) NATE CHINEN