Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Artistic Director Speaks: Snapshot #6

Artistic Director Speaks: Snapshot - Mostly Canada Day!
July 2, 2014
by: Ken Pickering - Artistic Director / Co-Founder
twitter: ken_pickering
photography: Chris Cameron unless otherwise noted.

Soulful Dawn Pemberton way back there on the Ron Basford Stage on Canada Day

There we have it - the 29th edition of the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival - successfully wrapped and in the books. By all accounts this year's 12 day run struck a chord - many folks gave us similar feedback,  that this year's fest was one for the ages. Personally I remember quite a few doozies - but this one felt really damn good. I hope we didn't plateau one year early - next year's the 30th! There was a definite lightness and buoyancy in the air that was palpable - I could certainly feel it and many musicians and fans mentioned that feeling to me. So there was joy in this year's varied program - we showcased some of the most beautiful jazz and its relatives available in today's music world and my sense is that we got the balance just about spot on. We were also very happy to be included on the list of the world's 10 best jazz festivals (CBC) - in some great company. It was also great to see a few of the old friendly faces again - folks that we go way back with,  that we don't see often enough -  on that tip astute critics Mark Miller and Bill Shoemaker made welcome mostly off duty appearances this year. The festival was also an auspicious debut for our new executive director, Mike Forrester who could be seen running from venue to venue. Welcome Mike!

Certainly it was awesome to see so many musicians turning out to listen to each others bands, make new connections and feel the vibe. It was also awesome to host two amazing musicians -  pianist Lisa Ullén and trombonist Mats Åleklint - in Vancouver residency for the entire month of June thanks to the support of the Swedish Arts Grant Committee. They had numerous sessions with Vancouver musicians, recorded here and there and ultimately made a lot of new friends in this town - expanding the connectivity between Vancouver and Sweden in an organic and hopefully lasting way.

Lisa Ullén and Torsten Müller at the house gig at Lisa Cay Miller's place (photo kp)

The 11th day of the festival was the quiet one - Monday, June 20th  - with one gig at Performance Works in the afternoon - an excellent Montreal based piano trio led by Jérôme Beaulieu played to a responsive a full house. I find it amazing how the age old piano trio format seems to reinvent itself with so many young musicians working in this format. In the past couple of years we've showcased quite a few of them. We can add Beaulieu to that list . 

Trio Jérôme Beaulieu at Performance Works (photo kp)

Later in the afternoon I attended a house concert - with freely improvised music by the legendary UK vocalist Phil Minton and Vancouver bassist Torsten Müller. I couldn't have had a better seat (right beside the musicians in a very comfortable chair) - the music was perfectly nuanced - the audience compromised mostly of musicians from near and far. It was the perfect low key and relaxed late afternoon 5pm gig with cheese, beer and wine and good company - then off to a quiet night at home - finally.

Phil Minton and Torsten Müller at the house gig

Festive vibe at Granville Island (Photo kp)

Canada Day was another story altogether. A crazy packed out day at Granville Island - the photos will tell the story. Starting off  at noon with the wonderful Cat Toren Trio (with Tommy Babin - bass and Dan Gaucher - drums) and continuing all day long until 11pm. There's a tensile strength in Cat's playing to a degree that I never noticed before -  she continues to develop as a pianist and is deservedly beginning to gain more attention on the Brooklyn scene.  I was particularly knocked out by her take on Mingus' Pithecanthropus Erectus - Tommy Babin was rock solid on that underplayed classic.

Cat Toren, Tommy Babin, Dan Gaucher with a full house at Performance Works (photo kp)

Funky Kristin Fung at the Railspur Stage - she sang in the recent  performance of Anthony Braxton's opera - Trillium J (photo kp)

Michel Edelin had the right rhythm section for his trio (following Cat) with local stalwart Clyde Reed - bass and VIP  drummer Dylan van der Schyff. Edelin is an incredible flutist with a great tone and feel - and the trio's free bop strolled and swung through a set of music that held the audience rapt. With one rehearsal they sounded like a band ... shared history?

Dylan van der Schyff, Michel Edelin and Clyde Reed (photo kp)

The Westerlies (a brass quartet of Seattle lads) now based in NYC laid out a set of music unlike anything we've ever presented at the festival. We booked them on the strength of their Songlines debut of Wayne Horvitz compositions - plus the fact that both Tony Reif and Wayne called us personally to make sure that they were on our radar. Top echelon chamber music that ranged from Horvitz to Charles Ives. Perfect.

Backstage with the Westerlies - Media Director John Orysik (photo kp)

My previous post had some of the rundown on how the Alexander Hawkins, Harris Eisenstadt and Francois Houle Trio came together. So I'll just put up the photos and say that their second performance - to a full house at Performance Works - was if possible even more burning that the Ironworks gig. A really fantastic new band. I hope.

Your's truly introducing Alex, Harris and Francois (photo: John Orysik)
Alex, Francois and Harris
Their set list with originals and Steve Lacy tunes.

After a long Canada Day there was nothing left in the tank, out of gas so we had to head home Christine, myself and our little whippet (jazz dog) Booker. Sadly I didn't get to hear André Lachance or Mike Allen. Both great Vancouver bands that I'm sure turned in excellent sets. I sure dug André's set at Pat's Pub a couple of months back and Mike at the last night of Cory Weed's Jazz Cellar. Here's a couple of Chris Cameron photos from those final shows.

André Lachance
Mike Allen

That was it - time to head home and savour the feeling of an amazing 12 day festival. Next up, the volunteer party!
Thanks to everyone on staff - (especially jazz warriors Rainbow and John) - the board and my fellow directors, our great logistics / transpo / hopsitality / volunteer team, operations, production, box office, marketing, social media team, bean counters, interns, volunteers and fans - its all about the music and the musicians. You know who you are!  That's why we're here - to support the vision - JAZZ! 

Your's truly, Booker Little the jazz dog and Christine (photo: John Orysik)

Monday, June 30, 2014

Artistic Director Speaks: Snapshot # 5

Artistic Director Speaks: Snapshot - Final Weekend
June 30, 2014
by: Ken Pickering - Artistic Director / Co-Founder
twitter: ken_pickering
photography: Chris Cameron unless otherwise noted.

Today's post is a selective photo journal (and a few choice words) of our final weekend - with some great (and not so great - mine) shots by Chris Cameron and John Orysik from the David Lam Park Jazz Weekend, Ironworks and Performance Works.

This was the final show last night - following Human Feel - UK pianist Alexander Hawkins, Francois Houle and Harris Eisenstadt at the Ironworks Sunday night.  It was their first concert - after one rehearsal - they brought out a book of tunes that included originals by each member - some Steve Lacy and more. Harris and Alex have been playing together for years (intercontinental quartet with Taylor Ho Bynum and Dominic Lash) - Harris and Francois began working together at my suggestion for Francois' 5 + 1 project - tour and Songlines disc. However Francois had never met Alexander. Simply put - they nailed it to the wall. This is a new trio and they should keep this thing going. Super heavy!
They also perform at Performance Works on Canada Day - so don't miss that show! (photo kp)

Hard to believe that the festival is nearly over - however there is still MORE music to be heard. Today (Monday) at Performance Works you can hear Montreal's Trio Jérôme Beaulieu at 1:30pm (2 sets) and tomorrow is our annual Canada Day jazz celebration at Granville Island with music on four stages - notably at PWorks with Cat Toren, Michel Edelin (Paris), The Westerlies (a brass quartet NYC - don't miss their great Songlines debut of Wayne Horvitz tunes), another shot at this unbelievable new trio with Alexander Hawkins (UK), Harris Eisenstadt (NYC) and Francois Houle, plust Quatuor André Lachance and the Mike Allen Quartet - the festivities begin at noon and continue to 11pm!

This dude is one of biggest fans - we call him Big Dave (from Eugene, Oregon) and you can find him at all the hippest jazz / improv shows - Roundhouse, Ironworks, Performance Works. Big Dave is extremely knowledgeable and supportive of the music, both local and international - this man has been visiting the festival for years. It was great to see him stand up and implore us to support our local musicians because they're world class! He knows lots of the musicians and they all (and we) love Big Dave! (photo kp)

Whenever I think of Big Dave - Torsten Müller comes immediately to mind. This version of Distant Relatives with Big Dave's favourite singer - UK's Phil Minton, Dylan van der Schyff - drums and our two new Vancouverites (not really - it just seems like it) here all of June on a great residency program supported by the Swedish Arts Grant Committee - allowed us to engage with Lisa Ullén - piano and Mats Åleklint - trombone, monster musicians both. The sound was superb and the hook up between Minton and Åleklint amazed. One of the tastiest DR gigs yet! Great sound in the room too! (photo kp)

Here we have drummer Michala Ostergaard-Nielsen, myself, Maggi Olin and Chris Cameron outside the Roundhouse on Saturday. Michala and Maggi are with the fantastic Swedish / Danish band David's Angels. (photo John Orysik)

David's Angels - with David Carlsson, Sofie Norling, Michala and Maggi. Wonderful art songs - Nordic style - you might remember Maggi from Ingrid Jensen's band a few years back. I discovered this quartet on CD and then was lucky to hear a gorgeous showcase in Bremen at Jazz Ahead in 2013 that convinced me that they must come to Vancouver. We helped them tour some of the Canadian festivals. This was one of John's favourite shows ... very cool! Super nice people too .. we certainly had fun hanging out a the Ironworks bar on Saturday night. Sofie Norling is a singer to watch for!

We were also treated to a great piano performance from Jon Ballantyne solo - so great to hear this supremely talented, underrated Canadian pianist (based in NYC) on his program of originals, plus Freedom Jazz Dance (Eddie Harris) and Shade of Jade (Joe Henderson) and another great set from French pianist Baptiste Trotignon with tenor saxophonist Mark Turner exhibiting a sweet tone and great control of the upper register. Both shows at the Roundhouse.

Harris Eisenstadt's Golden State subbed in Michael Moore (ICP Orchestra) on clarinet for Nicole Mitchell to great effect along with the awesome Mark Dresser - bass, Sara Schoenbeck - bassoon in support of their recent Songlines album. Not too many improvising bassoonists on the scene that I know about (I do remember Karen Borca) - watching Sara stretch on that unwieldy instrument is a sight and sound to behold. A very unusual chamber jazz ensemble - I really dig this group. Destroy Vancouver followed with Nate Wooley solo and DJ Olive. Nate's solo was a showcase for some extreme extended techniques - totally out. He's also a member of Eisenstadt's Canada Day band in a slightly more conventional jazz oriented context. Quite a night at the Ironworks. Great to team up with VIVO Media Arts.

Tigran - Shadow Theater Trio with Armenian (piano, keys)  Tigran Hamasayan presiding roared at Performance Works - his first appearance (and not the last we hope) at the festival. An intense captivating performance. From piece to piece his touch ranged from super heavy to very delicate. A new kind of fusion.

Sunna Gunnlaugs Trio from Iceland sounded great in the Roundhouse - another pianist with a beautiful touch on the piano - lots of nice feedback on their set. Her recent album Distilled has been spinning constantly in our household.

Chicago cellist (AACM) and TD HSJI leader/conductor Tomeka Reid - here performing with Michel Edelin and Dylan van der Schyff (not in photo).

The TD High School Jazz Intensive was a great success under the helm of Tomeka Reid (and the support of Bob Rebagliati and Flora Ware) - the kids  were challenged to go beyond standard big band repertoire and managed to pull of a Sun Ra tune and Anthony Braxton's - Composition # 134 - not an easy feat - before relaxing into some deep funk grooves.

Flora Ware (coordinator of HSJI, Bob Rebagliati, myself, the legendary Dal Richards and our new festival executive director Mike Forrester.

Human Feel are Chris Speed, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Andrew D'Angelo and Jim Black. This bands roots go back (with us) 25 years. Chris and Jim are from Seattle - around 25 years ago I received a call from Chris telling me they were performing at a small gallery in Gastown (this we pre Glass Slipper etc) and that I should come on down. So I did (along with another 2/3 folks) and the rest is history. At that time they were all completely unknown and in the interim they've all gone on to establish international careers as band leaders and collaborators around the world. Both Jim and Chris cut their teeth in Tim Berne's Blood Count in NYC in the 90's. Human Feel rarely gets back together, but this time they did - and we're happy to have them close out the 10th day of the festival at the Ironworks. This was a show I absolutely had to catch - (meaning I had to miss a fantastic  Cassandra show) in order to keep the cosmos aligned. Felt like a full circle. When I arrived - it was like - thank gawd you're here dude! What a night.

This is French flutist Michel Edelin - playing with cellist Tomeka Reid and drummer Dylan van der Schyff for the first time yesterday at the Roundhouse. On Canada day Michel teams up with bassist Clyde Reed and Dylan at Performance Works.

Finally a selfie by Francois Houle, with me and Alexander Hawkins - our grins tell you all you need to know. We wrapped out Ironworks pretty late last night. Hope that Franky's in good shape for recording Lisa Ullén today!

That's it for today - off to Performance Works and a house gig with Phil Minton and Torsten Müller this afternoon and then some rest to get in shape for another long day of great tunes at PerformanceWorks and other GI venues on Canada Day! Its not over until its over - see you there!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Artistic Director Speaks: Snapshot # 4

Artistic Director Speaks: Snapshot - All About Friday
June 28, 2014
by: Ken Pickering - Artistic Director / Co-Founder
twitter: ken_pickering
photography: Chris Cameron unless otherwise noted.

My fave espresso (thankfully they're a sponsor) - at Milano Gastown this time!

Quite unbelievable, but the reality is that the festival is roaring by at whirlwind velocity and this morning finds me sitting at the office at 10am after having downed my morning Americano hit over at our local Milano on 8th Ave. Managed to be awake very early this morning - but while checking mail, twitter, FB I was surprised by a mail from Harris Eisenstadt, up even earlier due to a wake up call from his young son Owen (who is out here with him and Sara).  This post is mostly going to be a photo gallery (Chris Cameron of course) with some impressions of the music I heard (and didn't hear if that's possible) yesterday. Before I do that - please note that today signals the David Lam Park Jazz Weekend (mostly free to the public) - some great music to be heard - low ticket cost for the Roundhouse ($5 per show or $25 for the 6 show package covering entire weekend). Today starting at 1:30pm (until 6pm) we've got the Swedish / Danish quartet David's Angels (beautiful art songs with the incredible voice of Sofie Norling, plus Maggi Olin, David Carlsson and Michala Ostergaard-Nilseen), great NYC based Canadian pianist  Jon Ballantyne playing solo and from France - another fantastic pianist Baptiste Trotignon (2nd festival appearance) in duo with American saxophonist Mark Turner (Fly). Tonight its the aforementioned Harris Eisenstadt's Golden State (you can read my blog post for more info on Harris and Alex Hawkins) and Destroy Vancouver featuring Nate Wooley and DJ Olive at the Ironworks, Tigran - Shadow Theater Trio at Performance Works and Quantic Live with Bassos Rancheros opening at Fortune Sound Club.

Gary Versace and Joel Miller (photo kp)

Yesterday (Friday) I managed to blast out of the office sometime after 1:30pm with the best of intentions to head straight to Performance Works for Joel Miller's Quartet - but I forgot to make the left and ended up on the Cambie Street bridge (not enough coffee or fuel?) heading downtown - and there was no Tom Lee workshop Friday. I eventually made it to PW in time for the last half hour of what appeared to be a  hard swinging show to a near capacity house. People were digging it! Joel Miller is a Montreal treasure (partner of Christine Jensen) and a muscular saxophonist who digs deep into his material. I heard some blues and a quite spectacular synthesis of salsa and Trane - called Salsa Coltrane (that I've got on iTunes, I know Eduardo digs it). His quartet included killing NYC pianist Gary Versace (mostly know for his organ work), bassist Fraser Hollins and drummer Greg Ritchie. The free afternoon shows at Performance Works are our gift to the jazz / improv fan - the highest quality music at no cost making the music accessible to all!

Tyson Naylor, Russell Sholberg, Skye Brooks (photos kp)

Over to the Ironworks (Crosstown Traffic, all you do is slow me down, and I got better things on the other side of town - Hendrix) then back to Performance Works then back to Ironworks ... oops. So managed to get a nice taste of the Tyson Naylor Trio's 5pm set (another free to the public series) at Ironworks Afternoon - always a pleasure to hear these three - with Russell Sholberg and Skye Brooks. Their first album Kosmonauten on Songlines has been out for a couple of years now - I'm hoping that there might be a new one on the horizon. But if you haven't heard it you should. Tyson is a thoroughly modern musician - as a pianist / keyboardist he eschews virtuosity for its own sake - similarly to some of the influences - maybe Misha, Horvitz  - his tenure with songwriters Dan Mangan and Kenton Loewen's the Crackling have given him the opportunity to really focus on the core elements of the song. A great Vancouver talent. His accordion playing is fine too!

Ironworks Afternoon MC - Christine Spinder sports cool red shoes!

The final three bands of the day have already received extended blog posts from your's truly, so I won't say too much more - except that Friday evening was spectacular and as the evening progressed it just got heavier and heavier - and I mean that in the most positive sense. Such a beautiful night of music.

Ambrose Akinmusire

Ambrose Akinmusire was out of the gate at 7:30pm at PWorks - with his first ever performance in Vancouver!  The quintet: Walter Smith - tenor, Sam Harris - piano, Harish Raghavan - bass, Justin Brown - drums. Such a beautiful burnished trumpet sound, Ambrose has enormous talent, originally a west coaster (Oakland), the man has been gaining much traction in the last 2/3 years on the strength of his two Blue Note albums - both worth hearing. The back doors of PWorks were open and the birds on the roof were going crazy - they were totally sitting in. I have no idea if you could hear the birds in the middle of the room, but it was a trip - very Vancouver. Nice set that was only marred by some booming bass in places. Really nice to connect with Ambrose before the show in the green room. Great start to the evening. You can read my previous blog post on Ambrose here.

Darius Jones and Eric Revis

Then back crosstown (Vancouver's newest neighbourhood?) to Ironworks for the Darius Jones & Tar Baby set (Orrin Evans  - piano, Eric Revis - bass, Nasheet Waits - drums). A highly anticipated show with a killer band - very special and stunning actually - the guys in Tar Baby have been incredibly supportive of Darius in playing his music (mostly from Book of Ma'bul on AUM Fidelity) - what a treat to hear these guys together. Darius Jones was preaching - this was music for the spirits. Very soulful! In so many ways their music, though absolutely in the now and of this time, took me back to the 60's avant garde of Shepp, Ayler, Marion Brown that I found so attractive in my youth. That music turned me on! Tar Baby were the perfect foil for his deep alto saxophone sound. Thank you Darius, Orrin, Eric and Nasheet - and Rainbow for working so hard on their tour. Highlight! You can read my previous blog post on Darius here.

Charles Lloyd

So then what? Charles Lloyd Quartet - that's what. Jeezuz what a concert. I'd heard three lovely shows by Charles last year in Molde and John Orysik heard him in Chicago last September with Bill Frisell, but neither of us had heard his new band with Gerald Clayton, Joe Sanders and Gerald Cleaver. The quartet was about ten minutes into their set when I arrived - so I headed straight downstairs and through the Vogue labyrinth to the side of the stage and stood behind Mr. Cleaver for at least 45 minutes. What a great vantage point to hear not only one of my favourite drummers, but to hear the whole band. Justin Brown was curled up right in front of me! That exquisite tone is like liquid tone. Charles Lloyd is most definitely a master (and recognized as such this year by the NEA). This concert really hit a nerve with a lot of people - social media was buzzing. You can read my previous blog post on Charles here.

Tony Wilson with Pugs and Crows

That was it for me - as much as I love our friends in Pugs and Crows I just didn't have it in me to head back to Ironworks for a final set after that profound Charles Lloyd experience. I remembered that the last time I saw Charles Lloyd and Nasheet Waits was back stage at Tim Berne's concert in Molde, Norway last summer!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Artistic Director Speaks: Snapshot # 3

Artistic Director Speaks: Yet Another Snapshot - Mostly Wednesday & Thursday
June 27, 2014
by: Ken Pickering - Artistic Director / Co-Founder
twitter: ken_pickering
photography: Chris Cameron unless otherwise noted.

Axel Dörner, Rudi Mahall, Fredrik Ljungkvist

The Deciders (from Norway, Germany, Sweden) arrived in town and Wednesday was the day they owned Vancouver. Ole Morten Vagan (bassist, leader) and Fredrik Ljungkvist (tenor saxophone, clarinet) began their day at the 1pm workshop at Tom Lee Music Hall. They did some duo playing on both completely free and standard material plus talked at length about how and why they do what they do. The challenges of developing form and a framework without a safety net - the balance between finding a path between the easy and challenging in communicating their musical ideas - finding new ways to think about and perform the music rather than playing standard bebop phrases or relying on what worked yesterday and their need to be present in the now and the thrill of finding that special  moment for the first time. Also discussed were cultural references, their love of the jazz tradition and developing vocabulary. Ole got off a great quip - when talking about the bass players role - "the bass players job description is to never stop playing - ever - unless there's a drum solo". That was in the context of discussing space and silence and when not to play.

Axel Dörner, Fredrik Ljungkvist, Ole Morten Vagan (photo kp)

That evening at 9pm The Deciders (the full quintet) with the addition of Rudi Mahall (clarinets), Axel Dorner (trumpets) and Jon Fålt (drums) delivered a potent energetic and wide ranging performance that was among the freshest of the festival. An all acoustic band, but far from old school, the Deciders deal with that interesting zone between structure and freedom, tension and release, a tactile approach to collective improvisation that works because of the strength of the players and some very interesting material. Each musician is most certainly a virtuoso - and they did play off the stand without a PA - Rudi Mahall and Fredrik Ljungkvist play with velocity and power. Loudly but not too much so. Its always a treat to hear the real sound of the instruments. The tunes were mostly if not all from their first Jazzland disc - We Travel The Airwaves. Forward thinking European jazz / improv bands like the Deciders give the festival a unique flavour that set us apart. Here's my blog post from a couple of weeks back - if you'd like to know more. A highlight of the festival for this listener.

Chris Donnelly (photo kp)

Earlier in the day I caught most of a set by Toronto's Myriad3 - their first performance at the festival - a trio that includes fine pianist Chris Donnelly, Daniel Fortin (bass) and Ernesto Cervini (drums). To my ears their take on the piano trio was overly formal and maybe a bit twee at times,  that said there's no doubting the capabilities of all three musicians and I'm ready to hear more. The audience really enjoyed the set - for me - I'll need to come back to them with some fresh ears and another listen.

Dylan van der Schyff, André Lachance, John Paton, Tony Wilson (photo kp)

At the Ironworks Afternoon Sessions (5pm) we heard BC legend - guitarist Tony Wilson's Flowers for Albert - a project dedicated to the late 60's avant saxophonist Albert Ayler. The band was excellent with Dylan van der Schyff (drums), André Lachance (bass) and the fine young John Paton (tenor sax). The music conjured the spirit of Ayler - relaxed, melodic lines alternating with textural abstractions - Tony evoked the power of Sonny Sharrock in some passages.

Always fun (serious fun) - it was great to connect with Jane Bunnett & Maqueque - her all girl Cuban band. I've know Jane for almost thirty years, so the opportunity to reconnect with her in the dressing room pre-show and catch up on stuff and to meet the band was cool. The show was a rollicking good time and it was also nice to see the doors open at Performance Works, keeping what can be a sweltering room on hot days just a little bit more chilled out.

Maceo Parker
The evening wrapped up with a strong performance (I'm told) that I had to miss by The Nightcrawlers and Dawn Pemberton - and a marathon performance by the always funky Maceo Parker at the Vogue Theatre (that I did catch 45 minutes of). Maceo never fails to impress and he's been performing at the festival for decades. I really dug the Chris Cameron shot from 1993 taken outside the venue with Maceo on Chris' motorcycle that he brought  to the show for Mr. Parker. Great memories!

Antonio Miguel, me, Benedikt Jahnel, Owen Howard (photo: John Orysik)
Three Seconds of Benedikt Jahnel

Thursday brought the expansive Benedikt Jahnel Trio to Performance Works (1:30pm) for a free show.  Yet another fantastic "new generation" piano trio - these guys have two albums out with the latest being Equilibrium on ECM. Loved seeing a nearly full house and even more so almost two sets of extremely beautiful piano trio music. The rhythm section included Spanish bassist Antonio Miguel (tagged with a Canadian name Edmontonio) and Canadian drummer Owen Howard (originally from Edmonton and living in Brooklyn for the past couple of decades). Benedikt (hailing from Germany) was a cut up on stage - delivering lots of great one liners - especially ribbing Antonio about the World Cup. The music ranged from burners to impressionism (ECM style) ballads with precise, crisp drumming from Owen Howard that was a key to the trios success - lots of conversation between Owen and Benedikt (lovely touch) on many of the tunes which built tension and excitement. Shows of this calibre offered free to the public are a gift.

Skye Brooks and Tommy Babin (photo kp)

I only caught the beginning of what promised to be a very interesting late afternoon set of solos from drummer Skye Brooks (Fond of Tigers, Tyson Naylor) and bassist Tommy Babin (Paul Plimley, Benzene) at a nicely attended Ironworks. One doesn't get to hear too many solo shows these days - especially shows that are non-piano oriented. Reminds of the solo 70's era - when so many great players performed solo - from Anthony Braxton and Steve Lacy to Evan Parker and Wadada Leo Smith.  Great to see so many friends out.

Jeff Ballard

The final two shows of the day for me were: Jeff Ballard Trio with Miguel Zénon and Lionel Loueke at Performance Works and Nels Cline and Julian Lage - guitar do at the Ironworks.

Lionel Loueke

The Jeff Ballard show was pretty darned awesome - everyone sounded great on mostly material rolled out from their Okeh album Times Tales as well as a unusual abstracted take on A Very Good Year, a tune (by Irvin Drake) made famous by Frank Sinatra. Wow!  Enjoyed meeting the guys and having a friendly chat with Mr. Ballard. Francois Houle mentioned that their trio sound had similar sonics, albeit less edgy, to Tim Berne and Marc Ducret. It was a helluva smoking show. The new global jazz.

Nels Cline and Julian Lage

Finally Nels Cline and Julian Lage - damn - this show should keep people talking for years to come. Nels (best known for Wilco and his improv projects) eschews his pedals and effects for some straight up jazz guitar in duet with the equally talented Julian Lage (Gary Burton) in a packed to the rafters intimate Ironworks concert. The tunes were primarily originals by both guitarists - with a dedication to Jim Hall and notably a beautiful heart felt version of Jimmy Giuffre's Brief Hesitation. You could hear a  pin drop - John Orysik and myself were like statues standing at the back of the room for the duration. The sound projected perfectly and the 100 minute set reached epic proportions.

That's all for now - we're into Friday afternoon and that means I'm off to my first show of the day - Joel Miller Quartet at Performance Works. Heavy lifting today: Tyson Naylor Trio, Ambrose Akinmusire, Darius Jones and Tar Baby, Charles Lloyd Quartet. You might want to catch Chris Gestrin opening for Mr. Lloyd at the Vogue, Cory Weeds and Harold Mabern at Pyatt Hall, finally Hugh Fraser and VEJI and the Official Jazz Jam at Pat's Pub. Tomorrow signals the David Lam Park Jazz Weekend!
Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra-My favorite things Madeleine Peyroux-I'm all right Paco De Lucia-Entre Dos Aguas