Friday, January 10, 2014

Dispatch from New York

First off, the bad news. During the keynote address today at the Jazz Connect Conference, I saw a Facebook post from Matthew Shipp saying that trumpeter Roy Campbell has died. I remember hearing Roy's album New Kingdom when I did a jazz show at WPTS, and I knew he was a master. That album was a great blend of music with a grounded rhythm section and wild solos. Beautiful stuff. Then a few years later, I saw him perform with Nu Band, living up to all the expectations. Rest is peace, Roy. We'll miss you.

If that wasn't enough, I just read that Amiri Baraka died too. He was quite the polarizing fellow (I have a Sunny Murray album where he reads a poem that makes to not-so-flattering references to Jewish people) but he was a bold poet nonetheless.

Now the good news. First day of the Jazz Connect Conference was a good time! Pittsburgh was well represented here by members of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and Manchester Craftsmen's Guild. Marty from MCG raised some thought-provoking comments regarding how to archive and care for performances that have been documented by an institution like his. The question got my brain going.

Janis Burley Wilson from the Trust spoke too, as part of the keynote address, talking about how she's assembled the Pittsburgh Jazz Festival that's been happening downtown. She was one of five panelists who spoke about their work. That panel was unfortunately marred by the sound of a fire alarm that went off during the presentation. It kind of freaked everyone out though most of us didn't care enough to leave the building.

Tomorrow and Saturday are the big music days, but I still caught some good stuff tonight. La Poisson Rouge had a show with the Wallace Roney big band playing some unreleased Wayne Shorter songs. The band had at least 20 people from what I could see, and at first it almost sounded more like a Gil Evans work than something by Wayne Shorter, dense and swirling, with strings and reeds (flutes, oboe, bassoon) playing different things than the brass. But it was still a good time. When they reached the fourth and final piece, things were a little more in the 4/4 realm.

I walked a few blocks to the Cornelia Street Cafe, picking up a large coffee on the way, which gave me the first major happy buzz of the day. CSC had the Claudia Quintet, a band whose CD I've listened to once and have been trying to get back to ever since. They're lead by drummer John Hollenbeck and it's hard to pin them down. The first tune, "September 18: Lemons" reminded me a helluva lot of a Bobby Previte song I love called "1958." The rhythm was different but the chord changes seems very close. "September 29, 1936" relied heavily on some pre-recorded speech that Hollenbeck imitated on his drums, before the whole band came in. The tune bugged me too much when I played the first time, and I had to skip over the repetition. Now I think I'm ready to give it another try.

Then I took the train back to Williamsburg, where I am now, falling asleep at the laptop.

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