Despite the heavy snow fall, I explored several new venues and bands this year on Jan 7 with my friend Iona and her husband Peter. Great way to start out the new year!
|Venues highlighted in yellow were the places I visited.|
OverviewLast year I did not check out performances in the New School venues because I stayed in the village area. It was great to check out 3 of the 4 venues in the New School area this year. Both the 12th St Auditorium and Tishman Auditorium offer plenty of space and seating. Tishman has stadium seats while 12th St has a more gradual slope. The festival also increased the number of ticket/wristband pick up locations so I had no trouble getting my wristband. Iona and Peter joined me around 7:40pm for my first concert of the night: Ralph Peterson and Aggregate Prime (instruments featured: flute, drum, guitar, upright bass, piano). I enjoyed the lyrical phrases from some of the pieces (at times almost wondering if some of the pieces would nicely paired with a vocalist?) Or better to just let the instruments do their own singing/talking.
Iona and I then made our way to Ravi Coltrane and David Virelles duo performance at Tishman (this show was written up in many 'must see lists' for festival previews) where Peter graciously saved seats for us before the venue quickly filled up. The ECM rep during her intro mentioned this was the first time the two took stage (in this combo, usually more musicians in the group) and that they hope to work on a future recording of the two! Ravi played several different saxophones during the performance. David played the piano and at times added percussion on or under the piano bench. The beautiful sound flowing from both instruments and the balance of the music dialogue between the musicians easily mesmerized the entire audience. I liked some of the lighter pieces where you can really enjoy the sound of the featured instrument with very light accompaniment from the other instrument.
While the performance by Ravi/David was a difficult one to follow, we walked to New School 5th Fl theater to hear Edmar Castaneda World Ensemble. While researching the festival, I came upon this group and the harp jazz so had to check it out. Harp is certainly not a typical jazz ensemble instrument, But then again, this was not a typical jazz ensemble. Edmar welcomed his ensemble of musicians all hailing from different parts of the world, as one would introduce members of his family to a large crowd of guests at a house party. The warmth and hospitality was infectious. I also enjoyed the piece featuring his wife on vocals (they got married 20 days after first meeting at a Queens jam session!). The solo harp piece that Edmar dedicated to God was also awe-inspiring. I thought the New School 5th Fl theater was a bit on the small side (maybe around 100 seats seated) but it was also filled with a great audience that soaked up all the positive energy from the group.
I ended the evening with a very high energy rock/disco/funk/jazz performance from Marc Ribot and the Young Philadelphians. Unlike the previous auditorium/stage/seated concerts, this was in the very crowded restaurant/bar called SOBs. Peter highly recommended this group so Iona and I took a quick cab ride from New School to Varick St to join him. What a crowd! Possibly the first time in the evening that I saw people moving and dancing (then again, I think Zinc Bar, Bitter End, and Django probably also had a lot of dancing from the more dancing friendly venues). The entire concert was basically a really fun jam session featuring fantastic guitars, bass, and strings. All attitude and all funk and probably the right way to end another year of a great winter jazzfest for me. Just keeps getting better every year!
Bands I sawlisting of bands that you can check out their music or in person at their future concerts!
- Ralph Peterson and Aggregate Prime (guitar, bass, piano, flute, drums)
- Ravi Coltrane and David Virelles (sax and piano)
- Edmar Castaneda World Ensemble (harp, flute, harmonica, sax, trombone, keyboard, drumset)
- Marc Ribot Young Philadelphians (bass, guitars, strings, drums, more) Peter mentioned they are not always in this combo of musicians so look out for the various bands/groups.