After 5 action-packed days in Los Angeles, I’m rejuvenated. Yes the beaches were amazing, the sunsets made for beautiful sky porn* (like this shot I took after almost running out of gas just north of Malibu), and the sushi was scrumptious. But even better was the music. All three shows I checked out while visiting were inspiring, so I thought I’d share some crappy iPhone recordings I took.
Ben Wendel Quartet
In case you haven’t noticed, I’m pretty much in love with pretty much anything Ben Wendel. Pretty much. But I had the privilege of hearing him with Eric Harland, Taylor Eigsti, and Harish Raghavan at the Blue Whale. Ben’s compositions and playing were tasty, Eric Harland and Taylor Eigsti obviously blew me away, but I was most taken by how elegantly Harish was able to hold everything down on bass.
In honor of Chicago’s own Marquis Hill’s big win at the 2014 Thelonious Monk Trumpet Competition last night, here’s a bootleg iPhone recording I took of his group playing at The Whistler on 10/21/14. Crushing it.
Marquis Hill – Trumpet
Dustin Laurenzi – Tenor Sax
Stu Mindeman – Keys
Bryan Doherty – Bass
Makaya McCraven – Drums
About 1 year ago Josh Moshier and I took our group to Bogota, Colombia with John Tate and Jeremy Cunningham. It was an unforgettable experience, and it just so happened that Tony Malaby was playing across town. I still remember how excited the Colombian jazz community was to check Tony out, and the crowd of young, energetic, slightly bohemian jazz fans enthusiastically embraced his exploratory performance. This clip captures one of the more beautiful, sensitive, and in-time moments of a memorable evening. I regrettably don’t know the names of the local rhythm section, but they really brought it.
Through the wonders of YouTube, you can watch a full video of the show here:
Starting around 1:30 Nate Smith really lets loose over this odd meter, funky Adam Rogers tune, wow! Also, it’s nice to hear Adam Rogers in his element. Hard to catch all of the Fima Ephron stuff, but I can assure you it was tasty and locked right in. This is another set from my 2011 stint in NYC.
Adam Rogers – Guitar
Nate Smith – Drums
Fima Ephron – Bass
55 Bar, NYC, 10.13.2011
Halfway through our week of bootlegs, it’s time for a little Kurt Rosenwinkel playing Coltrane’s 26-2 (come on, I’m still a sax player!). He visited Chicago a while back with his standards trio, and they swung their asses off. I couldn’t believe how effortlessly Kurt was able to work over one of the most difficult tunes out there.
Jazz Showcase, Chicago, IL, 4/19/2014
Kurt Rosenwinkel – Guitar
Orlando le Fleming – Bass
Jochen Rueckert – Drums
Bootleg a Day #3: Aaron Goldberg, Francisco Mela, Tivon Pennicott, Jaleel Shaw, John Benitez: Lotus Flower jam @ Zinc
Back in October 2011 I spent a month living in Brooklyn trying to check out and play as much music as possible. I stumbled into Zinc Bar my second day in town – ready to throw down at their jam – after checking out Greg Hutchinson’s show over at Smalls. Aaron Goldberg was playing with Greg’s group that night, and when he later walked into Zinc, I was relieved to have already sat in and said my piece in the jam.
When Aaron jumped on stage, the room lit up, and Tivon Pennicott and Jaleel Shaw were ushered onto the stage. Drummer Francisco Mela and bassist John Benitez had already been playing and absolutely burning. So, the group started playing an uptempo version of the minor standard Lotus Flower, and they just tore it up. Check out Tivon starting around 2 minutes in, incredible sound & feel, and he builds a beautiful solo. Aaron Goldberg takes over around 5 minutes in, enough said…Enjoy!
Aaron Goldberg – Piano
Francisco Mela – Drums
Tivon Pennicott – Tenor
Jaleel Shaw – Alto
John Benitez – Bass
Next up in our series, we present the incomparable Mark Turner in a set from just 4 days ago! He brought his group to Chicago’s newest and hippest jazz venue, Constellation. They played 2 sets that drew mostly from his latest album, Lathe of Heaven, which hit the shelves only a couple weeks ago. What an experience!
I must admit, I picked up the album as soon as it came out, and I listened to it a few times with a bit of difficulty. My ears were unsure of how to process some of the 2 part horn harmonies without chordal support. However, witnessing this group live in such an intimate setting as Constellation drew me in, and I was spellbound by the end of the show. Mark’s tone coated the room with such a lush, dark, and gentle hue, and his compositions proved both creative and satisfying.
Avishai must be the most underrated trumpet player on the scene today, so I’m glad he’s seeing the spotlight with the likes of Mark and the SF Collective. I’d heard Justin Brown with Gerald Clayton a few times, and his sensitive, active presence on the drums is always a treat. He’s such a fantastic listener. And although I’d heard Joe Martin on record, his playing in person was even more fulfilling. Overall, what a show!
Mark Turner – Sax
Avishai Cohen – Trumpet
Justin Brown – Drums
Joe Martin – Bass
This week I’ll be treating you to some of the incredible music I’ve experienced over the past few years. Each day you’ll be getting a new bootleg that I’ve recorded (yes, on my iPhone) from a live show that blew me away. We begin the series with the Ben Wendel Quartet at Smalls on June 5, 2014. Ben’s control of the saxophone is astounding. Notice his use of circular breathing in his a-capella intro: he doesn’t even break a sweat! And who can beat that rhythm section –Joe Sanders and Gerald Clayton have played so much music together that their level of communication is telepathic. I was also blown away by my introduction to Fela Kuti-inspired drummer Henry Cole.
Ben Wendel – Sax
Joe Sanders – Bass
Gerald Clayton – Piano
Henry Cole – Drums