Archive for July, 2012

A Weekend with Vijay

Last weekend I saw one of my favorites, pianist Vijay Iyer, in two different settings. First, on Saturday in an electrified set with legendary pianist Geri Allen and trumpeter Graham Haynes at the Stone and then on Sunday a free show at the MoMA with his regular trio showcasing a new suite of music. I’ve spoken about Vijay Iyer, particularly the trio with Stephan Crump and Marcus Gilmore, before, usually in a highly laudatory fashion. I think these shows deserve  a bit of attention as well, particularly the first one, because they hint at what future Vijay output may look like. All in all, I’d say prospects look good.

The first show took place under Geri Allen’s curatorship at the The Stone. The stone is a fascinating experiment in live music created by John Zorn, one of the most dynamic figures in music that I can think of. Zorn is something of a lunatic genius whose musical output is staggering. Every genre from avant garde, free jazz of both the melodic and honking and screeching varieties, electronic music and modern classical to surf rock and exotica has seen Zorn’s touch at some point in his career. As you might imagine, not all of those genres are particularly lucrative and Zorn travels in circles of musicians and artists that can’t always find accepting spaces to perform. Enter the Stone. A totally non-profit space in Alphabet City, The Stone is dedicated to experimental music and is musician focused. The music charges, light though they are, go entirely to the musicians themselves. The club is supported entirely through donations and monthly ‘Improv Nights’ lead by Zorn himself, which basically amount to rent parties. There is no food or drink, just music.

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Spark: Soulive and Karl Denson

Krasno, Denson, Neal Evans

A bit of a change of pace this time. Friday night I saw the spectacular funk collective Soulive with featured guest/collaborator wind player extroardinaire Karl Denson. They played in honor of their recent release, ‘Spark‘, which in turn is in honor of guitarist Melvin Sparks, who apparently had a hand in creating acid jazz. They had it at a new venue for me, the City Winery, which makes this first time I’ve seen Soulive in a venue where most everyone was seated and not up and dancing. Which may actually be a good thing. Last time I saw them, I didn’t stretch properly ahead of time and pulled something awful in my back from all the grooving I did. I have a gallery of pictures, at least those that came out, here. Quick notes on the show after the break.

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