Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Double Trio: Live At The Festival of New Trumpet Music

A new review of our work by new music stalwart
Bruce Lee Gallanter of
Downtown Music Gallery.

Two trios apart, together, and all over!

Trumpet hero Stephen Haynes has collaborated at length with Bill Dixon and plays in the Vision Orchestra. Recordings with Stephen as a leader have been rare until now. Haynes co-leads this marvelous sextet with that ambitious whippersnapper and Braxton collaborator, Taylor Ho Bynum. Haynes and Bynum both composed tunes on this fine disc with a couple of covers by Ornette Coleman and Dizzy Gillespie. The rest of this double trio features two fine guitarists, Allan Jaffe, (who has worked with Bobby Previte & Ray Anderson) and the ubiquitous Mary Halvorson who has also worked with Mr. Braxton & Taylor in other contexts. The legendary percussionist, Warren Smith, has worked on hundreds of sessions in different genres for more than forty years while Tomas Fujiwara plays in a couple of Taylor's projects. A stellar crew!

This disc was recorded live at the Jazz Standard in NYC during the 2006 Festival of New Trumpet Music. "HeBeSheBeWeBe 1" begins with eerie trumpet and stark percussion but soon the sextet kicks in with some tight ensemble playing. Both guitars and both drummers swirl intricately around one another. Eventually both horns also sail on the top. Mary plays a great Sharrock-like solo before the lone trumpet spins together with the percussion.

"Yx 6c" splits the band evenly with one trio playing one theme while the other trio plays an interconnected theme with them. Both horns spin layers of lines, bouncing notes back and forth. What makes this ensemble so intriguing is the way the different styles or approaches of each player are utilized most fully. Both guitarists have much different sounds, yet they work so well together since the pieces seem to use them just right.

Ornette Coleman’s "Broken Shadows" is covered and done spaciously with a couple of different lines swimming around one another in waves. Both horns play the theme together yet slightly off center.

Taylor composed the "Miscellaneous Suite" in three parts, starting with "Triple Duo" which features three different duos intersecting. When somebody says, "fortune cookie, my ass!" Joe and I just cracked up. On "mm (pf)" the melody is split between each player in fragments, yet it still works with an overall thread or logic that holds it together somehow.

Original modern jazz trumpet hero, Dizzy Gillespie’s "Kush" is deconstructed a bit, yet retains a certain charm. Commencing with "Notes from an Autumn Diary," a long, intense yet freer work that has charted passages and focused freer sections as well.
Without a doubt, this is one of this year's most thoughtful and stimulating releases.

Image of Taylor and Stephen at Firehouse 12 by Nick Cretens

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Pea Pod Trio Plus One

Niles Street Community Garden
Hartford, CT

Some images from last week’s musical exploration with old friends Bill Lowe and Billy Arnold. Hartford chanteuse and poet Margaux Hayes was invited to jump in and swim with us, and swim she did!

The food was locally grown, abundantly served and delicious. Our audience was attentive and called out to us and danced along with the music. Can I get a witness? I could hear my sound bouncing back off of the apartment buildings across the gardens as the sun went down-organic echoplex. What more could we ask for?

It is important to understand that these community gardens fill a range of essential functions here in Hartford-from knitting community to nourishing families-and are something that we have that must be supported consistently. In many of the neighborhoods these gardens inhabit, they provide a real, and sometimes hidden, heart for the neighborhood.

Consider making a donation to Knox today to support the vital work they perform year-round.

Thanks to Charmaine Craig and Knox Parks Foundation for the invitation to join the annual Community Garden Celebration.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Fela Anikulapo-Kuti Tribute

Sigourney Park
Hartford, CT

Saxophonist and local sonic stalwart Rich McGee, a veteran of Anthony Braxton’s knotty saxophone ensembles, has cooked up a big band tribute to the singular Nigerian artist and activist Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.

While I have never played Rich’s music, he and I have played together at times, occasionally alongside my oldest Hartford musical friend Mixashawn.

This event is part of a larger outdoor community music festival chock full of local talent and seasoned with savory out-of-towners like Bobby Matos. Not to be missed, and the weather looks to be an ideal late summer/early fall mix with low humidity. Bring a bottle of rose, a blanket and someone you love. Sunday, August 31, beginning at 2:00 PM.

H*E*R* Plus Size

The Stone
New York, NY

A reprise of our recent Montague Mills experience, H*E*R Plus Size lands at John Zorn’s storied East Village venue later this week. The last time that I worked at The Stone was in a trio setting with JD Parran (also a good friend of Peter's-check out their Hellacious Trio) and Mary Halvorsen.

Composer and vocalist Yvette Perez has corralled a merry bunch of mischievous musicians for the occasion: Peter Zummo, trombone; Danny Tunick, vibes; and Todd Merrell, transmission manipulations. I plan to bring along my alto horn.

We will perform expanded/ing arrangements culled from Yvette's lovely songbook/CD, Songs About the Mysteries of Housework and Nature.

Notice that Todd and I have to meet outside of Hartford to make music. Someone do something about that, please!

Thursday, August 28, 10:00 PM.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Pea Pod Trio

Niles Street Community Garden
Hartford, CT

The Knox Parks Urban Community Garden Program has seen a dramatic increase in demand for gardening space this year. Currently there are 202 gardening families cultivating and feeding themselves fresh local produce at the 300 plots located at thirteen garden sites throughout the city of Hartford.

The folks at Knox have asked me to join them for a tour and celebration of our wonderful community gardens, several of which I have worked in as an organizer over the past ten years. After the tour, we will return to the Niles Street Garden for a clam bake with fresh local produce and plenty of friends from throughout the community.

I will perform with a group built especially for the occasion, the Pea Pod Trio, with my old friend Bill Lowe from Boston on tuba. Springfield stalwart Billy Arnold, who I met while working with Mixashawn Rozie, will join us on drums and percussion. If you live nearby and want to check out this rare local performance, contact Knox Parks Foundation for a seat on the bus.

Images of Bill and me with the Boston Jazz Repertory Orchestra
in Cambridge, MA 2002 were taken by Craig Bailey