The fresh­mak­ers

Pasatiempo - - Pasa Reviews -

Jack DeJohnette has main­tained a rep­u­ta­tion of in­ven­tive­ness for half a cen­tury, a fact pointed out by poet and for­mer Na­tional En­dow­ment for the Arts deputy chair­man A.B. Spell­man when he in­tro­duced the drum­mer-com­poser-band­leader to a sold-out crowd on Satur­day, July 26, at the Len­sic Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter. Spell­man said the re­cently ap­pointed NEA Jazz Mas­ter’s mu­sic was con­sis­tently new and fresh. The per­for­mance that fol­lowed — the fi­nal Santa Fe con­cert of the 2014 New Mex­ico Jazz Fes­ti­val — seemed to prove that point. DeJohnette’s trio, with sax­o­phon­ist Ravi Coltrane and bassist Matthew Gar­ri­son, made some­thing new of the few clas­sic pieces they touched while also of­fer­ing new works that re­lied on Gar­ri­son’s bass and its at­tached elec­tron­ics to pro­vide har­monic in­ter­est. The re­sults were un­ex­pected from a sax­o­phone trio but fully in line with Spell­man’s in­tro­duc­tion.

DeJohnette’s play, still char­ac­ter­is­tic of his work go­ing back to the 1960s and stints with Jackie McLean, Charles Lloyd, and Miles Davis, has evolved over the years to em­pha­size ac­cents and color while main­tain­ing its rhyth­mic drive. This was au­di­ble from the open­ing num­ber, an orig­i­nal called “At­mos­pheres,” a piece as im­pres­sion­is­tic as its name. It fo­cused on the drums as an in­stru­ment of color and shad­ing rather than time­keep­ing. DeJohnette in­vited com­par­isons with his ear­lier days by per­form­ing Joe Hen­der­son’s “Black Nar­cis­sus,” a tune he first recorded with Hen­der­son in 1969. That per­for­mance was all cym­bal and light snare touch; this one drew from un­der­stated tom-tom ex­changes. Gar­ri­son, trig­ger­ing elec­tronic ef­fects with foot ped­als and pulling chordal clus­ters from his bass gui­tar’s strings, gave the three­some’s sound a rich­ness that be­lied the band’s size.

Coltrane was his own man. He’s a player who es­chews all clichés — and, ex­cept for his rich tone on both tenor and so­prano, he gave no clue that he’s his fa­ther’s son. His ap­proach on Lee Mor­gan’s well-known, much­sam­pled “The Sidewinder” brought some­thing en­tirely new and quirky to the song. Yet when the band dipped into his fa­ther’s mu­sic for an en­core, Coltrane pro­duced a kind of homage that took only a few notes to sug­gest the legacy in his blood.

Drum­mer Terri Lyne Car­ring­ton’s Mo­saic Project brought an­other kind of fresh­ness to the Len­sic Stage on Fri­day, July 25. Us­ing two con­trast­ing vo­cal­ists — Gretchen Par­lato and Lizz Wright — Car­ring­ton’s en­sem­ble found a sweet spot where ac­ces­si­ble beats and blues changes al­lowed for soul­ful state­ments from sax­o­phon­ists Hai­ley Niswanger and Grace Kelly. With key­boardist Rachel Z not ar­riv­ing un­til mid­way through the sec­ond set, the group re­lied on gui­tarist Matt Stevens to keep up the har­monic in­ter­est with his creamy elec­tric tones. Z’s ar­rival brought new life to the band, and its cover of Nick Drake’s “Three Hours” proved an emo­tional high in what was some­times an unin­spired show.

Pian­ist-com­poser Dick Hy­man’s ap­pear­ance with an all-star sex­tet co-led by 88-year-old gui­tarist Bucky Piz­zarelli was the model of what’s always been great about jazz: mu­si­cians com­ing to­gether to speak in a shared lan­guage. Piz­zarelli, a most melodic soloist, put blaz­ing rhythm ad­di­tions to “Sing, Sing, Sing” that sug­gested a sort of heavy-metal jazz. Hy­man opened “Blue Monk” with a fas­ci­nat­ing state­ment that seemed to change keys at the end of ev­ery phrase be­fore the band took the familiar tune and be­gan to swing. Fresh? You bet.

— Bill Kohlhaase

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