New York ramblings

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New York is still clearly alive and well, at least on the jazz front.

We caught Broken Shadows (Tim Berne, Chris Speed, Reid Anderson and Dave King) at the Village Vanguard playing the music of Ornette Coleman,Dewey Redman and Julius Hemphill. Much of it we’d think pretty spiky for the Vanguard in 2019 although there was also a lovely version of Charlie Haden’s Song For Che. A bit disconcerting to hear Tim Berne say how much he’d enjoyed his week-long residency because he didn’t get to play in Manhattan very often.

For the first time we went to Smalls where we saw the Ari Hoenig quartet playing Monk and self-composed material. Seem to remember Brian Morton writing enthusiastically about Mr Hoenig [perhaps in relation to NY Standard (Fresh Sound FSR-CD 955), reviewed JJ 2018 – Ed]. Nothing reverential about the music; it’s almost playful at times but not in any kind of throwaway sense. There’s a  strong musical intelligence driving it. Orlando Fleming, the expat UK bassist, was part of the band.

We were impressed by Smalls. Twenty dollars got you in and you could stay for two sets as long as the queue for the second set wasn’t too long. Very small,nothing fancy but atmospheric. Tickets can also be used for admission to Mezzrow, their sister club just down the road.

Not directly concerned with the interests of Jazz Journal admittedly, but we also went to see the musical Hadestown on Broadway. It’s based around the concept album of Anais Mitchell, the singer-songwriter. The music covers lots of different styles including jazz and the superb band plays on stage with the singers/actors. The drummer was notable jazz percussionist Ben Perowsky, who’s played with John Zorn among many others.

As well as the gigs we paid to see, we also inadvertently stumbled across quartets busking on subway station concourses and in Washington Square,a steaming four-horn funk band also at Herald Square and lone saxophonists waling away on 7th Avenue and in Central Park.

The city’s just full of jazz. Brilliant!

Alan Laney, Southampton, UK