Posts Tagged ‘Bar Next Door’

New York @ Night: January 2012

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

In the January 2012 issue of The New York City Jazz Record:

In a cheerful and loquacious introduction at Bar Next Door (Dec. 4), guitarist Peter Mazza announced his plan for the evening: arrangements of standards, reflecting a passion for rich and intricate harmony. Flanked by Marco Panascia on upright bass and Roggerio Boccato on a scaled-down percussion kit, Mazza quickly made clear that he is indeed a chord-hound. His treatments of “Skylark,” “Over the Rainbow,” “Someday My Prince Will Come,” “My Romance,” “Darn That Dream” and “Stella By Starlight” were packed with capricious chord-melody voicings, darting counterlines and written bass parts that Mazza and Panascia often played in unison. Even if the potential for guitar/bass muddiness was there, the sound remained light and nimble. Boccato saw to that with his dumbek, woodblocks and other accessories, which still allowed for a solid jazz feel on ride cymbal and brushes. Mazza got a clear and tailored sound from a Gibson archtop and played to Boccato’s strengths with Brazilian-inspired rhythms, waltzes and other spacious feels. The single-note solo passages were inventive, sparking empathic trio interplay, but ultimately Mazza’s pianistic block chords and bold contrapuntal devices were the most consistently absorbing part of this music. Never did his arrangements detract from the original melodies, or even the underlying harmonic logic that made these songs great. On “Stella,” the tour de force closer, one heard extravagance, but also simple good taste. (David R. Adler)


Bassist Michael Bates, in a well-deserved showcase at Ibeam (Dec. 10), took charge with two contrasting yet intimately related lineups. He began with music from the new album Acrobat, performed by most of the original in-studio cast: Chris Speed on reeds, Russ Johnson on trumpet, Russ Lossing on piano/Wurlitzer and Jeff Davis (standing in for Tom Rainey) on drums. In a welcome twist, trombonist Samuel Blaser joined the Acrobat group as well (he also partnered with Bates as a co-leader in the second set, debuting a new quintet with tenor powerhouse Michael Blake). The Acrobat music, all inspired by or adapted from Shostakovich, rose to new imaginative heights with the third horn. Leading off with the Intermezzo from the Piano Quintet in G Minor, Speed played slow and high-pitched clarinet, summoning the lonely quality of the original violin line. Finishing with the Allegretto movement of the Piano Trio No. 2, the band dug in with a grinding beat and captured the work’s deep inner tension — its Russian-ness, if you will. Bates’ originals were full of improvised fire and sonic flux, with Lossing’s tweaked Wurlitzer adding jolts of electric post-fusion on “Silent Witness” and the uptempo “Strong Arm.” Johnson’s unaccompanied solo with mute on “Talking Bird,” hushed in volume yet full of unbridled urgency, was a thing of wonder. From the brash “Fugitive Pieces” to the legato balladry of “Some Wounds,” the music was unsettled, precise and poignantly lyrical all at once. (DA)

New York @ Night: August 2011

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

In the August 2011 issue of The New York City Jazz Record:

To this point, guitarist Rez Abbasi has focused overwhelmingly on original material, and although his work could be said to sit within the modernist mainstream of jazz, he’s spent little time in public playing standard tunes. That changed when he appeared in a trio setting with bassist Johannes Weidenmueller and drummer Adam Cruz at Bar Next Door (July 2nd). Revisiting the bop and post-bop canon might have been unexpected, but it was perfectly logical — Abbasi’s fluid, rhythmically buoyant lines have always shown a rootedness in swing, even when he’s drawing on South Asian musics in the company of Vijay Iyer, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Dan Weiss and others. The trio led off with a brisk “What Is This Thing Called Love,” and Abbasi chewed up the changes with laid-back precision, forming long strings of ideas with the benefit of a deep, resonant electric guitar sound. No bold-stroke arrangements here: “Alone Together,” “Solar” and Joe Henderson’s angular blues “Isotope” found the group sticking to simple solo rotations and trading of eights and fours. If there was a hesitancy at times during the first of three sets, it was thanks to the newness of the lineup and the casual nature of the gig. But for a warm-up, this was strong and searching music. Abbasi ventured some backwards effects on his intro to Alec Wilder’s ballad “Moon and Sand,” and Cruz found just the right vibe for the tiny room, keeping the volume low without sacrificing intensity. (David R. Adler)


It’s impressive in itself that bassist John Hébert could gather pianist Fred Hersch, altoist Tim Berne, cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum and drummer Ches Smith under one roof for a Charles Mingus tribute at the Stone (July 2nd). This was Hersch’s Stone debut, his first-ever gig with Berne, and a golden opportunity to hear the pianist grapple with the legacy of his mentor Jaki Byard, a key Mingus sideman. Berne, for his part, was no slouch in the implicit role of Eric Dolphy (perhaps also Jackie McLean or Charles MacPherson). But it was Hébert’s achievement that stood out: his way of featuring these unique voices from across the aesthetic spectrum of jazz, and still capturing the swinging integrity of Mingus’s ingenious works. There was a suite-like structure to the set, and a good deal of reading involved, as the band made its way through Hébert’s arrangements of “Sue’s Changes,” “What Love,” “Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love” and “Remember Rockefeller at Attica.” Melodies sang out beautifully, as did Hersch’s richly voiced chords, although there was plenty of unvarnished bite and snarl. Hébert gave everyone, including himself, room to roam unaccompanied. He tacked on clever sonic details, including a glockenspiel line (played by Ches Smith) matching Berne’s alto during “What Love.” The music flowed in and out of defined meter and seemed to revel in its messy, multi-stylistic flux, echoing something Mingus once said to Nat Hentoff: “Why tie yourself to the same tempo all the time?” (DA)