From the September 2013 issue of The New York City Jazz Record.
When the collaborative quartet Ideal Bread played Ibeam (Aug. 12th) the clock was running on a Kickstarter appeal for Beating the Teens, the band’s third album devoted to the music of Steve Lacy. Beating the Teens is a twist on Scratching the Seventies (Saravah), the landmark Lacy collection, which Ideal Bread hopes to revisit and transform in its entirety. Baritone saxophonist Josh Sinton, the group’s appointed talker, introduced Kirk Knuffke on cornet, Adam Hopkins on bass (taking over for Reuben Radding) and drummer Tomas Fujiwara, all of whom made a strong case for the album in the works. They led off with the slow splintered theme of “The Wane” and followed it with “Scraps,” a brighter piece, all meticulous harmonized hits and odd drum patterns. “Dreams,” built around sensitive duet exchanges for cornet and drums, led right into “Cryptosphere,” an almost John Cagean affair: Sinton scraped at the floor with a kitchen utensil, Hopkins dropped a hardcover book several times, Fujiwara lifted up his floor tom and struck a cymbal with it — all while an Ideal Bread recording played in the background. As Sinton explained, Lacy dedicated these pieces to figures as diverse as Kid Ory and Frederic Rzewski, and the reference points all seemed to make sense. The first set closed with another medley: “Ladies,” which pitted an agitated rhythm section against the more relaxed legato horns; then into “Blinks,” with an all-out solo by Fujiwara, who put a New Orleans spin on Lacy’s ingenious quasi-Monkish line. (David R. Adler)
At first glance bassist Pedro Giraudo’s Expansions Big Band looked like a standard jazz lineup: five saxophones, four trombones, four trumpets and rhythm section with piano. But the first set at Birdland (Aug. 11th) quickly revealed the skills of Paulo Stagnaro on cajón and percussion, often obscured from view by Giraudo’s upright bass. Seated between drummer Franco Pinna and pianist Jess Jurkovic, Stagnaro brought the leader’s wide-ranging South American influences into vibrant relief, boosting the rhythmic dynamism and sonic power of the music. “Moñeca,” in driving 5/4, featured Giraudo on electric bass and trombonist Ryan Keberle and Pinna as soloists. Another electric bass vehicle, “Duende del Maté” from Giraudo’s 2011 release Córdoba (Zoho), beckoned with furious beats and handclaps, intricate section writing and solos by Miki Hirose on trumpet and Sam Sadigursky on tenor sax. Two pieces, “La Viudita” and “Desconsuelo,” dated back to 2005 but sounded fresh as larger scores (Expansions has two more trumpets and trombones than the Pedro Giraudo Jazz Orchestra). Alto saxophonist Will Vinson, a prominent voice throughout, soared on the main theme and ripped up the solo section of “La Ley Primera,” rooted in the zamba ballad form of Giraudo’s native Argentina. The most striking solo entrance came late in the set: trombonist Mike Fahie, on “Desconsuelo,” burned with confidence while staring ahead, a little stunned, as though looking right back at himself. (DA)