Friday, April 1, 2011

New York

And....we're back.

Sorry for the brief radio silence here lately. I just returned home after spending ten action packed days in the Jazz capital of the world, New York City. I was extremely busy during my trip as I was interviewing a variety of drummers as part of my field research towards my ongoing DMA dissertation that I am writing through the University of Toronto. It's been seven years since my last time in the Big Apple so I also took advantage of my time there to check out as much live music as I possibly could (there's no better place to do this in my opinion!)

A few of my personal favorites included:

-Vancouver saxophonist, club owner, producer and all-around nice guy Cory Weeds featured with the crack rhythm section of David Hazeltine on piano, John Webber on bass and Joe Strasser on drums followed by the late night set featuring the fearless Kreston Osgood on drums (from Denmark) joined by Johannes Weidenmuller (bass) and Sam Yahel (piano) all at Smalls.

-I really dug pianist Bill Charlap's trio so much with Peter Washington on bass and Kenny Washington on drums at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola that I ended up going to see them two nights in a row. And I'm glad I did. Kenny's impeccable sense of dynamics, light touch on the ride cymbal and fine attention to articulation was a master class in itself in musical drumming.

The late night set on the second evening I attended featured drummer Greg Hutchinson (a former students of Washington's) with a great guitarist (whose name escapes me...) and Aaron Goldberg on piano.

-I caught another one of my favorite drummers, Billy Drummond with his group "Freedom of Ideas" featuring trumpeter Jeremy Pelt on another return trip to Smalls.

-After spending an afternoon checking out a rehearsal with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and an informative hang with drummer Ali Jackson Jr. I caught their hard swinging, entertaining and informative "Jazz for Young People" concert featuring classic big band music from the swing era.

-On Sunday evening I met up with my old friend Barb Hamilton and we checked out trumpeter Dave Douglas and his Brass Ecstasy band that featured drummer Rudy Royston at the Village Vanguard. Dave is a prolific composer and improviser. I really dig this recent project of his and the whole evening exuded a real sense of joy.

-I returned the following evening to hear the renowned Vanguard Jazz Orchestra featuring drummer John Riley in the drivers seat. This was another lesson in big band drumming and I really appreciated his dynamic playing on the Jim McNeely composition "Mel" (incidentally which is composed around a classic Mel Lewis drum phrase). Tenor saxophonist Rich Perry also shined on a ballad feature and I was all smiles as the band swung through what is likely my all-time favorite big band arrangement, Thad Jones' "Three in One".

-I headed to the Blue Note on Tuesday evening and heard drummer Lewis Nash & bassist Francois Moutin give an impeccable demonstration how a great drummer and bassist can work together while backing up French composer/pianist Michel LeGrand.

Here's a picture of me, Lewis Nash and a bowl of fruit backstage in his dressing room at the Blue Note:

-My New York adventure finished on a high note (sorry about the pun) digging the hard swinging and "greasy" grooves of Mike LeDonne (B3 organ), Peter Bernstein (guitar) and Rodney Green (drums) at Smoke. The highlight of the evening came in the form of a special surprise guest as Jazz legend and tenor saxophonist George Coleman sat in with the band for the last set.

-I also paid a visit to Steve Maxwell's Drum Shop in midtown Manhattan and admired the impressive plethora of vintage drums on display. If you like old drums, this is the place to be! He also had some very cool old sets that belonged to the likes of Elvin Jones and Kenny Clarke. Those are like Holy Relics in my opinion!!! The newer Craviotto drums they had on display are really pieces of drumming art as well.

-Speaking of art, it wasn't all Jazz all the time during my stay. I took some time on Sunday afternoon to make the trek to the Museum of Modern Art and check out some interesting abstract works of art. I'm always interested in checking out the works of Jackson Pollock and Pablo Picasso. Picasso's "Three Musicians" was impressive to see in person:

-I did something during this trip that I haven't done in a long time. I walked into J&R Music and bought a stack of CDs !!!
Nowadays I usually order my music online or download it off of iTunes. It was a nice feeling to step into a good music store again, browse for a couple of hours and come out with a bag full of great albums to listen to. I miss those days...

Alright. I'm back home and back to work. Regular posts forthcoming.

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