Sunday, February 1, 2015


Winter Jazzfest NYC 2015 Two Night Marathon

Winter Jazzfest NYC 2015, Two-Night Marathon
January 9th and 10th, 2015
Greenwich Village, NYC, 10 Venues

By E. Joyce Glasgow,

Winter Jazzfest NYC celebrated its eleventh year with an expanded marathon program, featuring over one hundred distinguished jazz groups, in two nights, at ten Greenwich Village venues.

There were so many great performances to choose from!  Here are some of the highlights that I heard on Friday and Saturday evenings.

 Joe Locke “Love is a Pendulum” - Joe Locke is one of my favorite jazz vibraphonists and he always delivers beautiful, complex and thoughtful original compositions, with a tight ensemble, including Robert Rodriguez (piano), Ricardo Rodriguez (bass) and Terreon Gully (drums).

TRIO 3- Master improvisers and jazz legends, Oliver Lake (alto sax), Reggie Workman (bass) and Andrew Cyrille (drums) teamed up with special guest, the young phenom, Vijay Iyer (piano). It was a special experience to hear these two generations communicate so beautifully with the same stimulating musical vocabulary.

Donald Byrd Acoustic/Electric Sessions- I particularly enjoyed the acoustic portion of Donald Byrd compositions played by this lively seven-member ensemble, led by Kevin Toney (keys) and featuring the legendary saxophonist, Donald Harrison and including Duane Eubanks (trumpet), Dominique Toney (vocals/keys), Max Moran (bass), Joe Dyson (drums) and Carl Burnette (guitar).

ICP Orchestra- (Instant Composers Pool)- This nine piece ensemble of mostly Dutch musicians, from Holland, made a rare, eagerly anticipated appearance. They are known for their wild and quirky improvisations and compositions and distinctive style. Cellist, Tristan Honsinger led the wildness with some mad vocalizing, cello playing and conducting. Playful drumming improviser, Han Bennink, is part of this ensemble. The other members present were Ab Baars (clarinet/sax), Tobias Delius (clarinet/sax), Michael Moore (clarinet/sax), Thomas Heberer (trumpet), Wolter Wierbos (trombone), Mary Oliver (violin/viola) and Ernst Glerum (bass).

Kneebody and Daedalus- This was a very compatible, flowing and exciting collaboration between demonstrative, long-lived jazz quintet, Kneebody and electronic musician, Daedalus. Kneebody members are Adam Benjamin (Fender Rhodes), Shane Endsley (trumpet), Kaveh Rastegar (bass), Ben Wendel (sax) and Nate Wood (drums).

So Percussion featuring Man Forever- I heard the first section of this program.  The four members of So Percussion played the most beautiful, compelling and ethereal composition on four “hybrid” hammered dulcimers. So Percussion members are Eric Cha-Beach, Josh Quillen, Adam Sliwinski and Jason Treuting. (Man Forever is John Colpitts).

 Uri Caine and Han Bennink- Two great improvisers playing together in a duo, Uri Caine (keyboards) and Han Bennink (drums/percussion) alternated their set between improvisation and structured musical compositions. Bennink took advantage of all nearby metal pipes and playing the floor while improvising.

Kavita Shah- Of East Indian extraction, born and bred in NYC, this wonderful, charming, multi- lingual singer was my favorite new find at Winter Jazzfest, 2015. She writes original tunes with thoughtful subject matter and is a terrific arranger of existing material.  I really like her distinctive arrangement and interpretation of Joni Mitchell’s “Little Green”. She has a lovely voice and a natural jazz sensibility. She incorporated tablas into her performance, giving the music an Indian feel, with Clarence Penn (drums), Shai Maestro (piano) and Petros Klampanis (bass).

Theo Bleckmann Quartet with Ambrose Akinmusire- In his career, Bleckmann has explored different avenues of vocal material, including his work with Meredith Monk and his intriguing programs of compositions from different eras. In this concert, he performed original material and incorporated electronics with his vocals, playing wth some of his regular colaborators and guest, Ambrose Akinmusire (trumpet). Bleckmann and Akinmusire played off each other well in this moody, spacious performance, with Gary Versace (piano), Chris Tordini (bass) and John Hollenbeck (drums).

Amina Claudine Myers Trio- Jazz legend, Myers, played lush, bluesy tunes on Hammond B3 organ with Jerome Harris (electric bass) and Reggie Nicholson (drums).

The Cookers- This is one of my all time favorite Jazz ensembles, featuring some of the greats of jazz playing fabulous, memorable original material, much of it by McBee, Harper and Cables. The septet is comprised of  George Cables (piano), Victor Lewis (drums), Cecil McBee (bass), Billy Harper (tenor sax), Eddie Henderson (trumpet), Donald Harrison (alto sax) and David Weiss (trumpet).

Butler, Bernstein and the Hot 9- A dynamic New Orleans style jazz ensemble all-star group led by one of New Orleans' favorite sons, beloved, phenomenal pianist/vocalist, Henry Butler. Other personnel playing this performance were; Charlie Burnham (violin), Curtis Fowlkes (trombone), Doug Wieselman (clarinet), Donald Edwards (drums), Peter Apfelbaum (tenor sax), Brad Jones (bass), Erik Lawrence (baritone sax) and Matt Munisteri (guitar). 

David Murray Infinity Quartet with Saul Williams-  Dramatic poet/vocalist, Williams, is a perfect compliment to Murray’s hard -hitting, atmospheric saxophone, with Orrin Evans (piano), Nasheet Waits (drums) and Jaribu Shahid (bass).

SFJAZZ Collective: Originals and the Music of Michael Jackson- This is another all-star group who's playing is very tight and together, with David Sanchez (tenor sax), Miguel Zenon (alto sax), Avishai Cohen (trumpet), Robin Eubanks (trombone), Edward Simon (piano), Matt Penman (bass), Obed Calvaire (drums)

Troker- This fun and raucous band from south of the border energetically combines jazz, funk, rock and hip -hop with a Mexican flavor, with Frankie Mares (drums), Samo Gonzalez (bass), Christian Jimenez (keyboard), Tiburon Santillanes (sax), Gilberto Cervantes (trumpet) and DJ Zero (turntables).

Following are videos featuring all the groups mentioned above.

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