Wednesday, October 23, 2013

ACS & Wayne Shorter: kindred spirits

Terri Lyne Carrington, drummer for ACS, chats
with members of the audience after the concert.
Last week at the ACS concert in Springfield, one of the musicians announced between tunes that they had played many dates with Wayne Shorter throughout his 80th birthday year. Maybe Wayne's aesthetic rubbed off, or Wayne chose them because they're kindred spirits. Not only did they play a number of his tunes; they also abstracted almost everything they played, just like Wayne.

Was ACS playing "egghead" jazz?

For several pieces, I heard only a few notes of the melody, somewhere in the middle of the piece. Of course, this approach is one of the major complaints of jazz haters and jazz purists alike, but I love it, and I hardly ever hear it live anymore. I like hearing things that I can't imagine or that seem impossible.

If so, I'm an egghead, too.
Allen: I was surprised to hear her play so little in this standard piano trio format. Of course, that made everything she played very important. I was most looking forward to hearing her because I've followed her music for 20 years, starting with Robert Altman's "Jazz '34," the jam session companion to his film "Kansas City." She portrayed Mary Lou Williams, as shown in the video below. A decade later, Allen made an album with Jack DeJohnette and Dave Holland, "The Life of a Song" (right), a standard piano trio work, very intense as you can imagine given the lineup. ACS played one of her pieces from that album, "Unconditional Love," which has a Latin beat.

She also took a minimal approach. I think she could have been happy with just a high hat and a snare drum — and not necessarily the whole drum, just the rim.

Spalding: I expected her to have that facility, but I was shocked at her ability to generate so much vitality without grandstanding.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Guest post: J.D. Pate finds jazz supertrio sublime

Geri Allen, Terri Lyne Carrington and Esperanza Spalding

J.D. Pate
Last Wednesday (10/16/14), the supertrio of Geri Allen (piano), Terri Lyne Carrington (drums) and Esperanza Spalding (bass) visited Springfield for a concert at Hammons Hall. It was a huge night for jazz players and listeners.

Here is a guest blog post about the concert from Springfield saxophonist J.D. Pate, who leads a duo called The Jazz Machine and plays in the Missouri Jazz Orchestra. His remarks first appeared on his Facebook page, and he has accepted my request to reprint them here.

I used to ask the question “Why are there so few women in jazz?” But after the show at Hammons Hall with Esperanza Spalding, Geri Allen, and Terri Lyne Carrington, I won’t ask that question any more. Because if there were many more women like these in jazz, us guys would be out of work. 

These ladies inhabit a sublime realm of rhythm and harmony that the rest of us can only speculate about. Carrington was a punchy yet precise orchestrator of a complex drum set, touching the edge of the cymbal so delicately you could hardly hear it and then smacking you upside the head with a tom bomb when you least expected it. The 32-fingered Geri Allen molded changes from air into tears and glued the trio together with sparse punctuated chord snaps that popped the structure of the tune into focus. And Spalding was coiled like a sparky velociraptor around a bass that dwarfed her--but she dominated it with an ease that belied her bird-like stature. And her voice? Words fail me. Description is futile. 

These three are exceptionally well matched, and performed with a smooth facility that made their complex charts easy to listen to. Their renditions of Wayne Shorter's “Fall” and “Infant Eyes” were especially impressive. 

In conclusion: they don’t suck. So see them if you get a chance.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Springfield Jazz Festival: Featured artists

Brad Leali
Elaine Richardson, aka Dr. E
At the after-festival jam, tenor madness broke out
among (from left) Brandon Mezzelo, Tim Broadbent, Corey Puett and J.D. Pate.
Sadly, I put away my real camera before the jam started. Oh, well.

Springfield Jazz Festival: Richard Bruton Band

Richard Bruton (right) with Austin Wilson
Eric Rosseau
The Park Central East stage near the Gillioz Theatre
From left: Jacob Hiser, Wayne Humbyrd, Richard Bruton, Sid Norris, Eric Rosseau, Austin Wilson

Springfield Jazz Festival: Brandon Mezzelo Triptet

Ryan Hurn (left) and Brandon Mezzelo
Kelly Brown
Austin Wilson

Springfield Jazz Festival: Linda Sala Jazz Project

Linda Sala
Joe Sala with the setting sun brightening the Shrine Mosque and the Hammons tower.
Mark Brueggemann
From left: Joe Sala, Linda Sala, Larry Pittmam, Mark Brueggemann,
Rick Salvador

Springfield Jazz Festival: Randy Hamm

The organizer of the festival directs the Missouri State Jazz Studies Ensemble.