Jazz Summer 2005


‘Music of Frank Zappa’: Ed Palermo Big Band

June 1, 8, 15, 22

Iridium, 1650 Bway, 212-582-2121. Capital-M Music trumps satire when Palermo and company delve into Zappa’s bad-Santa bag of instrumental inventions. Keep an ear open for the excentrifical treasures from FZ’s early-’70s psychedelic-jazz period captured on the hallmark albums The Grand Wazoo and Waka/Jawaka. Few big-band books can top it. GEHR

Wayne Krantz

June 2

55 Bar, 55 Christopher, 212-929-9883. The hyperinventive guitarist leads a trio and a devoted cult following through look-out-below improvisations that dangle tantalizingly on the cusp of chaos and ecstasy. The rhythm section changes, but try to catch him with longtime mind-meld partners Tim Lefebvre (bass) and Keith Carlock (drums) at least once. GEHR

The Headhunters

June 9-12

Iridium, 1650 Bway, 212-582-2121. Robert Walter, formerly of the Greyboy Allstars, takes over the keyboard hot seat formerly filled by Herbie Hancock in the latest incarnation of this jazz-funk juggernaut led by drummer Mike Clark. And with saxophonist Donald Harrison and percussionist Bill Summers on hand, God may indeed make them funky. GEHR

Tim Berne, Tom Rainey & Sylvie Courvoisier

June 14

Tonic, 107 Norfolk, 212-358-7501. This new Berne trio features old friend Tom Rainey on the drums and new collaborator Sylvie Courvoisier on piano. Berne’s as good a composer as he is a player, and his pieces have a nice dynamic ebb and flow that balance the energy and wonder of improvisation with a sophisticated sense of structure and harmony. HENDRICKSON

Joseph Jarman Opening Invocation+Henry Grimes Quartet+WARM: Reggie Workman, Pheeroan akLaff, Sam Rivers & Roscoe Mitchell+Jorge Sylvester and Nora McCarthy Conceptual Motion Orchestra+Bejeweled+the Gift

June 14

Vision Festival, Angel Orensanz Art Center, 172 Norfolk, 212-780-0175. Jarman solemnly starts things off as always at this festival. And with intriguing groupings like Reggie Workman and Roscoe Mitchell as well as the recently resurrected Henry Grimes (who upon rediscovery wondered how Albert Ayler was doing now) with Sun Ra Arkestra’s Marshall Allen, this should be a memorable opening night. A 20-piece band qualifies as a jazz orchestra, and one that’s led by a provocative poet like McCarthy is especially noteworthy. Besides her educational work, Terry Jenoure acts as a one-woman multimedia phenom with violin, poetry, vocals, and “projected paintings” in Bejeweled. Any band with trumpeter Roy Campbell deserves to be called the Gift. GROSS

‘100 Years and a Day: Doc Cheatham Centennial Jazz Party’

June 14

JVC Jazz Festival, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Frederick P. Rose Hall, Time Warner Center, 60th & Bway, 212-721-6500. The trumpeter had power. He had stage awareness in the ’50s and a prolific career in the ’60s and ’70s, then off he went. He’d be 100 now, and the best way to celebrate is this explosively tight performance by some of the country’s colossal improvisers—Clark Terry, Nicholas Payton, Frank Wess, Randy Sandke, Jimmy Heath, Jimmy Owens, Benny Powell, and numerous others. KING

Charles Gayle Trio+Oliver Lake Trio+Steve Dalachinsky & Matthew Shipp+Roy Campbell’s Pyramid Trio+Mat Maneri, Dave Burrell, Drew Gress & Randy Peterson

June 15

Vision Festival, Angel Orensanz Art Center, 172 Norfolk, 212-780-0175. Maybe the only thing more enticing than an ensemble featuring the free-meets-funk Lake is the fierce sound of Charles Gayle, who’s outspoken not just with his philosophical musings but also his equally volatile saxophone playing. You might say that he could give Bill Clinton a run for his money, but the ex-prez is a charmer while Gayle is a firebrand. Brainy, nimble-fingered pianist Shipp definitely deserves several showcases of his own besides this evening’s performance, and here he’s easily a match for Dalachinsky’s beat witticisms. Rounding out the evening is trumpeter Campbell’s multimedia dance and video ensemble (also featuring his stalwart trumpet) and tireless bandleader and sideman violaist Maneri. Also Wayne Horvitz’s Some Order Long Understood. GROSS

‘Piano Masters Salute Piano Legends’

June 15

JVC Jazz Festival, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Frederick P. Rose Hall, Time Warner Center, 60th & Bway, 212-721-6500. No stage could hold them, but they’re joining forces: The thrilling, charged Randy Weston, Geri Allen, Kenny Barron, and Uri Caine step forward in group tribute to the tunes of Ellington, Monk, Hancock, and Evans. Count it among the summer’s most intelligently billed, satisfying lineups, strengthened by the quick reflexes of Al Foster and Ray Drummond. KING

Joseph Jarman, Fred Anderson, Alvin Fielder & Tatsu Aoki+Joseph Jarman Ensemble+Fred Anderson, Kidd Jordan, William Parker & Hamid Drake+Thurman Barker’s Strike Force+Nicole Mitchell Trio

June 16

Vision Festival, Angel Orensanz Art Center, 172 Norfolk, 212-780-0175. For anyone who needs a fix of former Art Ensemble leader Joseph Jarman, this is the festival night to attend, though the big-band pieces he’s done at previous Vision showcases are missed. Whatever kind of ensemble he leads, his humanity always shines through. Festival staples Drake and Parker are worth hearing with AACM vet Anderson and kindred spirit Jordan. Also, Barker leads an impressive percussion ensemble and has played programs called “Give the Drummer Some”—no doubt that James Brown would be proud. Flutist Mitchell has led a variety of larger bands that have the complexity and fullness of Dollar Brand and Carlos Ward, but her Black Earth Ensemble works just as effectively as a three-piece. GROSS

Steven Bernstein’s Millennial Territory Orchestra

June 16

Tonic, 107 Norfolk, 212-358-7501. The gregarious slide trumpeter (think Cab Calloway meets Jon Stewart) takes a break from Sex Mob to coax, nudge, and hector his often bemused nonet through obscure early-20th-century tunes and unexpectedly rewarding pop covers. Easily the city’s sassiest big group and, potentially, its best. GEHR

Whit Dickey, Rob Brown, Joe Morris & Roy Campbell+David Budbill, William Parker & Hamid Drake+Eloping With the Sun+Other Dimensions in Music & Sound Vision Orchestra+Bill Dixon Quartet+Positive Knowledge

June 17

Vision Festival, Angel Orensanz Art Center, 172 Norfolk, 212-780-0175. Though drummer Dickey and trumpeter Campbell’s multimedia performance should turn heads, the other features of the evening are just as promising. Budbill is a writer-poet, festival regular, and something of a country mouse—very gentle, quiet, and thoughtfully provocative. Coming off the success of their recent record, Eloping With the Sun appear here in their first live performance. Other Dimensions in Music (Roy Campbell Jr., Daniel Carter, William Parker, and Rashid Bakr) are an embarrassment of riches, but here they up the ante with a 12-piece band featuring horns and strings. Cult figure-trumpeter-educator Dixon proves that octogenarians can still blow, while the well-named Positive Knowledge feature poet Ijeoma Thomas and her multi-reed husband, Oluyemi. GROSS

Dave Murray and the Gwo-Ka Masters

June 17-19

JVC Jazz Festival, Jazz Standard, 116 E 27th, 212-576-2232. The latest travelogue of the master saxophonist, now a mere 50 years young, takes him (and us) to the Caribbean and West Africa, which as we’ve seen aren’t that far apart musically. Don’t worry—he’s still a jazzman to the bone, but he’s not afraid of adding infectious rhythms to his always fascinating mix. GROSS

Leroy Jenkins & Felicia Norton+Billy Bang, Shoji Hano, Ngo Thanh Nahn & Todd Nicholson+PaNic+Joe McPhee & Lori Freedman+Eddie Gale Now Band+Peter Brötzmann & Nasheet Waits

June 18

Vision Festival, Angel Orensanz Art Center, 172 Norfolk, 212-780-0175. It’s violin night, featuring heavyweights Billy Bang and Leroy Jenkins, each with his own group. It’s also an evening of dance, featuring festival organizer Patricia Nicholson (in PaNic). Anyone doubting that a bow and fleet feet can’t make an effective duo (in Jenkins’s case) will recall the amazing set by the late bassist Peter Kowald a few Vision Fests ago. Powerhouse saxman Brötzmann is undoubtedly the star of the evening, one reason being that he plays here so infrequently. McPhee isn’t just a regular member of Brötzmann’s ensembles—he’s a poet with and without his sax. Trumpeter Eddie Gale is as comfortable with microchips as Graham Haynes or Jon Hassell. GROSS

Karen Borca Quintet+Rob Brown Ensemble+Dennis Gonzalez Yells at Eels & Oliver Lake+Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra+Joelle Léandre & India Cooke+Matthew Shipp, William Parker, Sabir Mateen & Han Bennink

June 19

Vision Festival, Angel Orensanz Art Center, 172 Norfolk, 212-780-0175. Borca is a criminally underrated player—maybe because she happens to be a female soloist, but also because the bassoon is her instrument of choice. Dennis Gonzalez Yells at Eels is a great band name, and you have to give the trumpeter credit for respecting his elders in song and for including saxophonist Lake in his band. William Parker’s orchestra (Little Huey) is a fine group to close the festival. Since he’s ubiquitous, he’s also teaming with Shipp and Mateen in another mighty ensemble. You might lose count about how many times Parker appears in this festival, and admittedly he helps organize the whole thing, but his playing does bring a satisfying unity to the proceedings. GROSS

Marc Ribot’s Spiritual Unity Featuring Henry Grimes

June 21

Tonic, 107 Norfolk, 212-358-7501. Sound familiar? The title is Albert Ayler’s; the concept is fair use. The soul, well, that’s trickier, but Ribot’s imposing new album bares all three with a grab bag of elements—spidery touch, jagged rhythms—brought to a far-fetched climax by Henry Grimes, Ayler’s onetime bandmate and a refreshing, vicious bassist with comeback bragging rights. KING

Kurt Elling & the Laurence Hobgood Trio

June 21-25

Birdland, 315 W 44th, 212-581-3080. Kurt Elling has always had a unique take on originals and covers, balancing tradition with new ideas—the recent Man in the Air included several gutsy covers, including a version of Coltrane’s “Resolution” that was augmented by the singer’s own lyrics. Here he and his regular trio will be joined by lions young and old. With Bobby Watson (June 22), Kurt Rosenwinkel (June 23), Stefon Harris (June 24), and Four Brothers Jon Hendricks, Mark Murphy, and Andy Bey (June 25). HENDRICKSON

Don Byron: ‘Almost Complete’

June 21-26

JVC Jazz Festival, Village Vanguard, 178 Seventh Ave S, 212-255-4037. By now, Byron straddles more genres than a free-form radio station (not to mention Mos Def or OutKast). For an almost week-long run, he’s corralling a trio, quintet, sextet, and big band. He deserves such a wide-ranging display of his talents as a bandleader, but he also deserves a full-size orchestra behind him. GROSS

Keith Jarrett, Jack DeJohnette & Gary Peacock

June 22

JVC Jazz Festival, Carnegie Hall, 57th & Seventh Ave, 212-247-7800. Over the course of two decades, these dependable dazzlers have evolved into jazz’s most incandescent trio. And while their Yoda-like pianist unearths new emotional revelations in every standard he touches, the group soars highest during its all too infrequent netless improvisations steered by a peerless percussionist. GEHR

‘Tribute to Jaco Pastorius’

June 22

JVC Jazz Festival, Beacon Theatre, 2124 Bway, 212-307-7171. Chops, stampeding energy, farty basslines—they all belong to Jaco, but not exclusively, which is one irresistible reason to catch the big-boned musicians who salute him tonight, from Christian McBride, Gerald Veasley, and Victor Wooten to Randy and Michael Brecker and Mike Mainieri. KING

‘Two Times Three’: Stanley Clarke, Béla Fleck & Jean-Luc Ponty+Paul Motian, Bill Frisell & Joe Lovano

June 23

JVC Jazz Festival, Carnegie Hall, 57th & Seventh Ave, 212-247-7800. Style and substance collide and conflate. Hyperactive fusion could easily prevail when virtuoso newgrass banjo picker Fleck and Parisian violinist Ponty meet double bassist Clarke in their new Trio! Drums, guitar, and saxophone alternately thrash and soar on Motian’s recent album with Frisell and Lovano I Have the Room Above Her. GEHR

Mose Allison With Bob Malach, Ratso Harris & Tom Wailey

June 23-26

Iridium, 1650 Bway, 212-582-2121. For a guy who’s covered by the Who and whose daughter is making a name for herself as a pop chanteuse, Allison is content with steady sailing in the low-key vibe that made him a legend. He won’t bowl you over, but he’s fine with that. Jimmy Reed once pursued the same territory, and he never swung like Allison does. GROSS

Harry Connick Jr. & Branford Marsalis+Miguel Zenon

June 25

JVC Jazz Festival, Zankel Hall at Carnegie, 57th & Seventh Ave, 212-247-7800. Harry’s piano is outstanding. There. (Mea culpa.) The description applies equally to Branford’s sheer texture and mixed-meter tempos, which lend incredible depth to their Occasion album, due this month. Tonight’s performance is the U.S. debut, with free-leaning shouts from Miguel’s wry, slippery sax. KING

Howard Fishman

June 25

Barbès, 376 9th St, Bklyn, 718-965-9177. OK, so the guy’s a little retro . . . at least he’s not just a sad fogy who’s stuck in another decade. Rather, Fishman celebrates the pre-rock (and sometimes later) pop tradition more joyfully than just about any chanteuse or male diva in the field today. His good times are infectious, and that counts for a lot with this type of music. GROSS

Toshiko Akiyoshi Trio

June 29-July 2

Birdland, 315 W 44th, 212-581-3080. She’s clearly an arranger—ever since she stormed the U.S. from Japan in the ’50s—but she’s also profoundly alert, if not brilliant, at the piano (she spent 30 years with that big band). It’s a delightful mix of bebop, intricate melody, lucid touch, and all things koto; rarely has a pianist left a big band to command a small group with such orchestral range. KING

Jeff Berlin Band

June 30-July 3

Iridium, 1650 Bway, 212-582-2121. Berlin’s bass found its way everywhere from John McLaughlin to Yes (and supposedly almost Van Halen). Though his career stretches back decades, his own records only number a few, but his fluid playing shows why he’s so in demand as a session man. Plus, his breezy songs have the cutest pun-twisted titles (“Reggae Ricardo,” “Lien on Me”). GROSS

Pete Robbins & Centric

July 14

55 Bar, 55 Christopher, 212-929-9883. There’s a firmer pulse now. Blame it—and the outlandishness—on this promising Brooklyn saxophonist, who leads the group with unsentimental emotion and amorphous harmony. The concept is texture, not fire; blame that on the talented backers: saxophonist Sam Sadigursky, keyboardist Eliot Cardinaux, drummer Dan Weiss, and bassist Thomas Morgan. KING