Posts Tagged ‘Chris Lightcap’


New York @ Night: January 2013

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

Happy New Year again! From the January 2013 issue of The New York City Jazz Record:

As a student of Lennie Tristano and a noted colleague of Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh, tenor saxophonist Ted Brown provides a living link to the Tristano school — an intriguing area in jazz history, somewhere in the interstices between bop and “cool.” Brown turned 85 the day before his gig at the Drawing Room (Dec. 2), so he arrived ready to celebrate in his calm and imperturbable way. His co-leader for the first set was Brad Linde, a young DC-based tenorist and Brown disciple, who played with distinction on Brown’s “Smog Eyes” and Tristano’s “317 East 32nd Street,” not to mention the standards “Broadway” and “My Melancholy Baby.” Pianist Michael Kanan, who runs the Drawing Room as a rehearsal space and concert venue, joined the band and juiced up the harmony, adding his own inventive spark. After a break, attention turned to Brown with cornetist Kirk Knuffke, bassist Chris Lightcap and drummer Matt Wilson. Harmony was king in this quartet, even with no piano: Knuffke and Brown snaked their way through the changes of “Featherbed” (based on “You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To”) and applied the Tristano logic in minor keys (“Jazz of Two Cities”) and waltz time (“Dig-It”), all from their new SteepleChase disc Pound Cake. Knuffke had a way of dancing into his melodies, as if striving to embody each phrase physically. Brown played his trickiest heads without a flaw, and his solos, while not as agile as way back in the day, were stamped with pure individuality. (David R. Adler)

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Though it entailed gathering musicians from various parts of the globe, Canadian clarinet master François Houle did the right thing by playing ShapeShifter Lab (Dec. 2) with the exact lineup from his brilliant Songlines release Genera. The frontline of Houle, trombonist Samuel Blaser and cornetist/flugelhornist Taylor Ho Bynum allowed for endless color mutations and finely rendered written parts. Benoît Delbecq kept a fairly low profile on piano and prepared piano, but he endowed the music with a wealth of harmonic and percussive twists. Bassist Michael Bates and drummer Harris Eisenstadt pointed the way from the airiest rubato abstraction to driving, meticulously placed rhythms. The set began slow, with the dark lyricism of “Le concombre de Chicoutimi,” but Houle was thinking in terms of a long medley: Bates soon segued to the uptempo line of “Essay No. 7,” then joined Eisenstadt for a bass/drums interlude that brought the band into the emphatic, slow-grooving “Guanara.” Houle was blowing two clarinets at once by the time the medley was finished. On the swing-based “Albatros” he played through half a clarinet, connecting his mouthpiece directly to the lower joint. That is the essence of Houle’s approach: wildly unstable, expressionistic elements vie with straightforward and undeniable virtuosity. The dueling plunger shouts of Bynum and Blaser on “Mu-Turn Revisited” offered another vivid example. (DA)


New York @ Night: February 2011

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

From the February 2011 issue of All About Jazz-New York:

Sullivan Hall was one of five venues to host Winter Jazzfest 2011, but the bookings in that room, handled by the presenting organization Revive Da Live, skewed decidedly toward a jazz/hip-hop hybrid aesthetic. That certainly didn’t mean swing was unwelcome. So on the festival’s second night (Jan. 8th), Orrin Evans’ Captain Black Big Band swung, and without apology, offering a sound that was vehement, buoyant and transporting. Evans led from the piano but left much of the cueing to trombone veteran Frank Lacy, who bobbed and swayed to the music and palpably increased the exhilaration in the room. Bassist Luques Curtis and drummer Donald Edwards also didn’t relent. This new Philadelphia-born unit knew exactly how to tailor a short festival set — they played only three of Evans’ tunes but drove them home with urgency and heart. First came “Captain Black,” a midtempo swinger arranged by altoist Todd Bashore. Next was the furiously churning modal waltz “The Sluice,” arranged by Lacy. And last came the slow syncopated 4/4 of “Easy Now,” which Evans dedicated to recently departed Philly greats including Trudy Pitts, Sid Simmons and Charles Fambrough. As baritone saxophonist Mark Allen scaled the heights in a withering solo, the rest of the band — Chelsea Baratz and Victor North on reeds, Duane Eubanks on trumpet, Brent White on trombone, plenty more — began a melodious chant (“ea … sy … now…”) and kindled a fleeting connection with the sacred. (David R. Adler)

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The atmosphere at Winter Jazzfest is thoroughly come-and-go, friendly to immersive listening but also to skimming the surfaces of the countless bands on display. So one had to hand it to the James Carney Group, which played Kenny’s Castaways on night two (Jan. 8th) and held the close attention of a good-sized crowd throughout a challenging, dynamically varied set. The band was a brass-centric, slightly smaller version of the one Carney employed on his Songlines releases Green-Wood (2007) and Ways and Means (2009). Carney’s saxophone regulars (Tony Malaby, Peter Epstein) were absent, but trombonist Josh Roseman, trumpeter Ralph Alessi, bassist Chris Lightcap and drummer Mark Ferber filled the small bandstand and wended their way through Carney’s compositions “Grassy Shoal Hoedown,” “In Lieu of Crossroads” and “The Poetry Wall,” balancing stormy and angular groove-making and quasi-minimalist abstraction. The house Fender Rhodes, as Ben Ratliff noted in the Times, gave the bands appearing at Kenny’s a too-similar sound, although the fact that Rhodes is an integral part of Carney’s canvas gave him a distinct advantage. He sounded at home, offering dense but non-claustrophobic harmony, prodding the soloists into open-ended exchanges and generous moments in the spotlight. There was a noticeable extra jolt whenever Alessi started to blow — an intensity and clarity of purpose that made all the casual listeners look up and get serious. (DA)