A Good Gig


Something to check out now that we’re halfway out of the week: venerable ESP records is 55 years old now, and has one of a series of celebratory concerts coming up this Saturday, April 28, 7:30 p.m., at Michiko Studios (149 West 46th St. in Manhattan).

Tickets are $15, a bargain in today’s world, that gets you sets from pianist Thollem, playing solo, and Fay Victor’s SoundNoiseFunk. Tholem is one of those improvisers who are at the edge of jazz and new music, in his own way along the lines of Paul Bley and Cecil Taylor. His language tends towards a rich sonic density, full of details and motion. His new CD, Live in Our Time, with bassist André St. James and drummer Tim Duroche, builds a beautiful, complex world that draws you in, highly recommended.

I caught a partial set from Victor’s new band at the Winter Jazziest—she sings, Sam Newsome plays soprano sax, Joe Morris plays guitar, and Reggie Nicholson is at the drum kit. This is truly an all-star group, superb musicians who are also superbly creative. These are some of the strongest and most individual voices in jazz and improvised music, and Victor is one-of-a-kind as a singer; she can improvise, lyrics included, on the spot, and also get down. Call this band avant-garde funk, that’s a special style.


The Year in Mahler 2016


What a year. There are more concerts to come, but my experience hearing Simon Rattle lead the Philadelphia Orchestra in Mahler 6 Monday night at Carnegie put a cap on a run of unforgettable performances. Read my review of last night at the New York Classical Review here, and catch up on these reviews from earlier in the year of New York Philharmonic performances: Mahler 6 with Semyon Bychkov, Mahler 9 with Bernard Haitink, Das Lied von der Erde (and Sibelius 7) with Alan Gilbert.

Sharing reviews is always tinged with the frustration of not being able to share the experience, nor of recalling anything but the memory of an overall impact. But there’s a welcome exception: the Philharmonic has released a digital recording from the Bychkov/Mahler 6 run, and it is as great as my memories, one of the finest performances of the symphony you’ll hear. You can stream it/buy it from iTunes, or do the same at Amazon, where the audio is better. Note that the cover image has Gilbert’s name, but it’s Bychkov conducting.


January Jazz

January is a relatively quiet month for classical music, not much in the way of BIG DEAL events. January is a jazz month – check these out:

  • January 6: stand-out, creative pianist Kris Davis leads her large-scale Infrasound projects at Roulette.
  • January 7 – 9: opening nights of the 2014 Winter Jazzfest, with three different concerts featuring Bobby Previtte, Robert Glasper and Jason Moran (!!!!) and the Revive Big Band.
  • January 10 – 11: the bulk of the Winter Jazzfest, two nights of constant music throughout Greenwich Village at multiple venues. The finest lineup of creative jazz musicians you will find all year, including Dawn of Midi, Roy Hargrove, Mary Halvorson, Peter Brötzman with Hamid Drake and Jason Adasiewicz, Gary Bartz, Ches Smith, Nate Wooley, Ben Goldberg, The Jazz Passengers, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Nir Felder, Mostly Other People Do the Killing, Elliott Sharp’s Orchestra Carbon, Michele Rosewoman’s New Yor-Uba, Don Byron’s Six Musicians, Marc Cary Focus Trio, Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, Tim Berne’s Snakeoil and Henry Threadgill’s remembrance of Butch Morris. It’s only unbelievable if you don’t live in New York City.
  • January 14 – 18: Steve Lehman’s Octet is at the Stone for five nights – expect new material that will be on a CD coming out in June.
  • January 9 – 30 (Thursdays): the Snugs Presents series at 61 Local, 61 Bergen Street, Brooklyn, goes from being the best value in creative jazz in NYC to the most important salon. There will be four evenings of conversation and listening exploring the AACM with Thurman Barker, Henry Threadgill, Steve and Iqua Colson and Amina Claudine Myers.

Also in Brooklyn, also great value, Ibeam starts up again Saturday, January 4 for a month of creative jazz with suggested donations from $10-$15 ( you can always give more). Highlight is Jim Black Trio Residency on the 18th.