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Duende (well, not yet – Starline Storefront, 2236 MLK), Oakland

October 19, 2012



Shuffleboil, or so their called. Turns out to be the perfect name for them – sinister shuffle beats and all a-boil in furious swells and intensity. Great music from a band of players I’ve never seen before. Horvitz I know from Naked City, of course, and other Zorn projects – and Previte from a Zorn bootleg – but the whole band turned out to be dynamite. Previte is a beast. Drumming like a madman and loving every minute of it. Very unusual intrumentation – not sure I’ve heard anything set up quite like this – 3 chordal instruments and drums. Horvitz had the Rhodes distorted to near-guitar sounds for a bunch of it – dark, dirty guitar. The sound had this cool mix – 3 dark, earthy and noisy players grinding out grooves and clusters of intensity, and the guitarist with a lighter, cleaner sound on top, nicely popping along (well – he plays some nasty guitar, lots of creative ideas and sounds, but the overall playing was almost like dancing afloat this churning mess of awesomeness).

Duende is this new restaurant/music club opening in uptown – spoke with Rocco at the door and he said they are planning on having experimental jazz a couple days a week (yess!). But, this isn’t Duende, not yet. This was supposed to be their pre-opening concert, but because of construction delays, they moved it to some guys open loft downstairs from the Starline (also not opened yet) – it was at 2236 MLK. Came across the info randomly – and was unsure what the music would be. Appaerently, the chef of this new Duende place is good buds with Zorn, so we’ll see if they can keep up this style of music.

Went with Gage. The show was LOUD – many tunes building quickly from either ambient searching or popping grooves to all out battles – Doria is a great player, ripping off fleet organ solos, often entwined with Hovitz’s dark Rhodes – trading lines or just inputting comments into the others solo. Horvitz had some furious playing and great solos. Previte was playing a storm from the get-go, and by the end he was just drumming like a bad season – quite impressive. Great music. 

WAYNE HORVITZ –Fender Rhodes

JOE DORIA – Hammond B3

TIM YOUNG – guitar




SF Conservatory Of Music, SF

October 14, 2012



The 2nd part of a great Sunday – went to Adam Kolker Trio at Chez Hanny at 4, then booked it over to the conservatory for this amazing trio at 7 (snug; perfect).  Got a ticket earlier in the week off craigslist – good deal, good seat (4th row). Haven’t seen Danilo as a leader before – but just a tight, fantastic band. Street, of course, always a great modern player. Cruz I haven’t seen and was younger than I thought he was going to be – nothing really flashy about his playing, but sticks well to the ebb and flow of the music and helps it ball together. They play amazing, searching and adventurous music that spins out from its beginnings and finds grooves and landscapes far from its birth. Very much like Wayne Shorter’s band (and Brian Blade’s Fellowship, which begs the question of how much those 3 influenced Wayne, or how much Wayne showed them the way). Either way, this is what I love about modern music – no head-solo-head, no swing in the drums or walking bass or steady floor to stand on, just music hunting across uneven terrains for deep emotion. Awesome.

The music was some sort of celebration of the 500th year of Panama, or something like that, according to Danilo’s brief intro. Took them a bit to find the road to adventure, but by the 3rd tune they were off; a dark, shifting, intense and varied piece with Shorter-like grooves. A phenomenal version of Round Midnight (and let’s be honest, how many more times does one need to hear that tune? Done like this – original, dark, barely skittering across the top of what’s expected from the song – plenty). Then some sprawling piece that began with at least one if not more Monk tunes, but travelled very far indeed from those grounds (how many Monk covers did I hear today?); an amazing tune (and band, damn) – completely free and ‘found’ music, very adventurous (and “dangerous” as Danilo says). Spent several minutes building and building over a slightly varying figure to a brutal climax. Some seriously badass intense music. Followed it with what seems to be the new obligatory Stevie Wonder cover Overjoy – (don’t know the orig. but this was a  great version).  Then closed with a dynamite, beautiful solo piano tune. Monster player – awesome music and band.

set list

1. Panama 500


3. Galactic Panama

4. Panama Vio

5. Chocolito

6. Round Midnight


8. Overjoy

9.                             (solo piano) 



ADAM CRUZ – drums


Chez Hanny, SF

October 14, 2012



The week continues. A great day – a Sunday that felt like a day in NY. I had a ticket to go see Danilo Perez Trio at the Conservatory that started at 7, and I haven’t been to Chez Hanny in a long time, so I decided to go for gluttony and hit Hanny at 4 for this trio, then bolt over just in time to make Danilo. Perfectly timed, and dodging crazy Bay Area 49er’s and Giants playoff traffic (uhgg), I literally ran from Hanny’s at the first clap at the end of the last tune. Closely timed events and multiple jazz shows in one day – great NY vibe to it all (and a sence of what would be my rapid demise if I ever lived there).

I never heard Kolker before, or McLaughlin either, but the trio sounded intriguing, and I’ve gone from never hearing of Denson to seeing him 3 times in the past 6 months – he’s a heck of a bassist, good song writer and seems to be involved with a number of top players. Kolker is a nice tenor player – solid originals, nice sound and good trio playing – and the drummer played well throughout. Some nice standards – opened with I Hear A Rhapsody, then, later, a nice grooved, good take on Monk’s Let’s Call This.  The 2nd set was substantially better – tighter playing from the three of them and more urgency in Kolker’s playing. Great Oska T (Monk) to open; awesome All The Things You Are with an excellent tenor solo, and Denson with a very good bass solo (seasoned solo – he’s been playing with Lee Konitz’s band, and I think Lee often plays this).  Very cool, off-kilter and awkward We See (Monk again), and then a great mid-tempo take on Wayne Shorter’s Dance Cadaverous (yesss – for all the standards and Monk stuff, it’s always heartwarming to see players cover Wayne, who seems, possibly more than anyone, to be the foundation builder for so much of modern jazz). An original Kolker blues, and a nice Alone Together to end. Hilarious intro on the blues – Kolker ‘Let’s play a blues’; Denson ‘Mine or yours?’; Kolker ‘Mine. Let’s talk about MY problems… MY gig, MY problems.’

1st set

1. I Hear A Rhapsody

2. In Or Out

3. Let’s Call This

4. Body And Soul

5. Nash

2nd set

1. Oskar T

2. All The Things You Are

3. We See

4. Dance Cadaverous

5. Kevin’s Birthday Blues

6. Alone Together

ADAM KOLKER – tenor sax




On Sacred Ground : The Rites Of Spring

Herbst Theatre, SF
October 12, 2012

This was part of SF Performances. A special event that I randomly came across. The Bad Plus  performing Igor Stravinsky’s Rites Of Spring. Yeah-hah. I was waffling right up until 5 of 6 and leaving work (it’s a week of 6 concerts), and I called Gage and he was up for going. Turned out to be fantastic. The Bad Plus are sort of hit or miss – always decent, but sometimes tiring – and sometimes really great (at Herbst with Wendy Lewis, amazing – at Amoeba, short but excellent), and this was definitely one of their great ones. Two sets – 1st set Stravinsky; 2nd set originals. THE RITES OF SPRING: There was a video display at first in front of the the whole stage with a recording of what sounded like spliced edits of the original that drew up when they started playing. The rest of the piece, there was some standardvideos behind them – but it was indifferent. The music though was anything but. They played the whole thing – a 40 minute, continuous slab of constantly shifting and extremely varied music. And they did a fantastic job at capturing the spirit of the piece and updating it, with all its difficulties and abstractions and abrasiveness – and this was very abrasive music. Loud, aggressive, chaotic and wonderful. Amazingly, although the drums were very integrated, and the music never repeated but quite specific, King had no sheet music and played the entire 40 mins from memory and feel (??? – bewildering) – and perfectly too. It ended and Gage said ‘that was for Jeff – dark and difficult’ – which it was to the max. He also described it as “definitely overwhelmingly bombastic” which pretty much sums it up.

2nd set was a wonderful set of originals – one of the best sets I’ve seen of them – tight but energetic, the songs good and worked out, all playing really well – Iverson even ripping off some very busy, very full almost concerto piano clusters. Reid introed the 2nd set with ‘we opened with a Stravinsky piece that we like to use as a little warm up’. A great original Reelect That with King on the brushes in a very impressive way – and how often do I say that – even a fantastic brush solo. Great tunes Seven Minute Mind and In Stitches (both Anderson) and an encore of Never Stop – which I love.  Great show.

1st set

1. Rites Of Spring 

2nd set

1. Pound For Pound

2. Wolf Out

3. Reelect That

4. Seven Minute Mind

5. In Stitches

6. Never Stop        (encore)



DAVID KING – drums


Yoshis, Oakland
October 11, 2012
10pm set

Never seen Archie before – was debating about this – plus, Yoshis, both of them, have SUCKED of late, and I haven’t been in quite a while. It’s like I’m mad at them, and justifiably so since for years they were the best thing about the Bay Area, now they Kenny G and John Tesh multiple times a year (though this month there’s this, plus Tyshawn Sorey(!) and Ron Carter). But notice, 6 awesome shows in a week – none that seemed necessary, but all overstepped their expectations and were excellent – and only 1 of them at Yoshis. Oh well. Anyways, I found ½ price ticket on Goldstar, so went to the 10pm set only. Shepp is, what, 75? (looked it up, he is) – but still playing very much the same, it seems – great, rich tone, babbles a bit, but nails excellent soulful lines in there, plus that edgy, 60’s out hint to everything. Other than Sharpe, I hadn’t heard of the other 2, but they played great – solid drumming, and excellent piano solos. The band had a  real nice hustle and movement to it . Archie blowing longtime, with his rich tone. McClung ripped off some very good solos, and his original “Burning Bright” was one of the better tunes of the night.

Sharpe – damn, that guy can play some bass – strumming and everything. A really nice band. Archie sang, improving I think, on 2 tunes. The lyrics seemed to follow tunes I thought I knew (Come Sunday, My Ideal, I think), but the lyrics were not those lyrics, so I think he was just going at it with whatever. Decent though. He’s an odd duck – someone I’ve never really wrapped my head around – you think he’s a free jazz guy, or a politically intense player, but then he plays way more inside than most (with rumbling solos and out notes and an out edge, but the tunes are in the pocket), or he’ll croon his way through a tune, all wispy and Johnny Hartman-ish. 1st tune was a long, rambling tenor solo – but they tightened up from there on with some nice Archie playing and all. A very pleasantly surprising, very good show. Good stuff Mr. Shepp.

set list

1. Hope 2

2. My Ideal

3. Un Petite Surprise Pour Mademoiselle

4. Come Sunday

5. The Stars Are In Your Eyes

6. Burning Bright

ARCHIE SHEPP – tenor sax, vocals

TOM McCLUNG – piano



Modern Jazz albums you should have, hear, buy, steal or shoplift. 

Steve Coleman – Coleman is one of the most important figures in modern jazz – an enormous amount of the new school of players come out of his philosophy and style of playing (and it is a philosophy – he waxes forever about the most incomprehensible theories of music). Coolly, he puts all of his albums no longer in print up for free download on his website. He is instrumental in incorporating insanely complicated time signatures and beats into a funky based music that never feels forced (it’s hard to figure out what they are doing, but it all sounds amazing). A great place to start is The Tao Of Mad Phat a classic 90’s live disc, super funky, dense and complicated, but great fun. You can download it for free here ( – you need to scroll down the list to find this disc). Other great discs to hear are these; Curves of Life; Genesis and the Opening of the Way; Luciderium (his experiment on vocals). He recently started putting out discs on Pi Records, and the first of them is an amazing album that takes a bit to get used to (it has a wordless vocalist that never shuts up, works her way in a like a horn and that once you accept it, is pretty cool – but it is everything else that is so good here, the drumming is insane, the horn lines amazing, etc.) – called Harvesting Semblances And Affinities.

John Zorn – You probably know Zorn. Screaming alto sax player with great compositional ideas and an absurdly large catalogue. Many different projects too. For a furious mix of speed metal, punk, rock and jazz that somehow shifts on the fly and hits the entire range of the radio dial seamlessly in a 2 minute song, you have to hear Naked City Live, Vol  1 – Joey Baron on drums is not quite human – playing a tune for my friend, he remarked, ‘how many limbs does this drummer have?’. For a very original cinematic compositional take on the music of Ennio Morricone, all done through the decidedly demented Zorn-looking glass, check out The Big Gundown. Punk-jazz goes bananas on Ornette Coleman tunes, Spy vs. Spy. But the real deal, in my book, is the Masada quartet – Joey Baron on drums, Dave Douglas trumpet, Greg Cohen bass, all acoustic, all the Zorn elements mixed into some indescribable blender mix of klezmer music on crack – if that sounds terrible, it isn’t, it is incredible.  Hunt till you find Masada, Live at Tonic, it is worth however long it takes to find, trust me.

William Parker QuartetO’Neal’s Porch or Sound Unity : Parker is from an earlier generation and is one of the great free players.  Bass player and extraordinary band leader. All his albums are excellent, but the band to start with is his quartet. Parker and drummer Hamid Drake have one of the most amazing bass/drums relationships imaginable – unlike anything else, esp. live. The quartet (with Drake, Rob Brown on alto and Lewis Barnes on trumpet) are a groove based hard edged free playing intense modern band. In the first show I ever saw of them, half the crowd gave Rob Brown a standing ovation 5 minutes into the first tune (literally). Of the 2 albums here, O’Neal’s Porch is the classic and Sound Unity is the live album, both terrific.

David BinneyGraylan Epicenter and Live at Newport 2010: Binney is one of the leaders of the NY scene (the scene no one knows about).  He’s been putting out tremendous discs for years (all that I’ve heard are great). A serious composer and blistering alto sax player, he writes that strand of modern jazz that has free edged solos constantly mapped with composed segments and arrangements. Graylan Epicenter is from 2011 and is an amazing disc – with a variety of players including Brian Blade on drums, Ambrose Akinmusire on trumpet (another great young player, worked his way through Steve Coleman), Craig Taborn (piano player, everywhere these days, at least everywhere in the scene that no one knows about), Chris Potter on tenor.  Live at Newport 2010 is only available as a free download from npr, and it is his quartet (with Taborn and Blade) that hunts quite different grounds than the other album.  Incredibly organic music.

Jason MoranIntroducing the Bandwagon : Piano player that is finally getting his due (just won MacArthur Genius Award). Been playing with same trio for years, and plays it like no other. With Nasheet Waits on drums, whose one of the top young drummers these days. All his discs are challenging and original – this one is a live disc from the Village Vanguard. Moran played in Greg Osby’s band for a decade.

Steve LehmanTravail, Transformation and Flow : Alto player, got some buzz going with this album as it is the first jazz album to investigate ‘spectral harmony’ – which is interesting because it is a challenging, difficult listen for all the attention it got, and completely brilliant (and unlike anything you’ve heard before). Octet with a host of stellar NY players including the ridiculously good drummer Tyshawn Sorey.

Steve Lehman and Rudresh Mahanthappa Dual Identity : Two top alto players that have their own unique approach to music and harmonies come together in a mind-melting tear-up that is hard to explain without listening to it. Rudresh is unceasingly intense. Great young drummer Damian Reid (a Greg Osby graduate).

Greg OsbyChannel Three : Really, all Osby albums after and including Further Ado are necessities. A super original alto player with great bands and a host of unknowns that very quickly become monsters. Jason Moran was in his band for many years, and all of those discs are incredible – when he left, Osby recorded a trio album with bassist Matt Brewer and drummer Jeff Tain Watts. This is it, and it is great. Other classics; Banned in New York, Inner Circle, St. Louis Shoes, Zero, and Symbols Of Light (the best example of jazz with strings because it is modern and truly intergrated).

SFJAZZ Collective – Live 2008, Live 2009, Live 2010 : Collective band that is a great example of where modern jazz is – amazing arrangements, collective improvisations, simultaneously inside and outside, great soloist and superior ensemble playing. The band changes from time to time, but it an octet that plays rearrangements of a jazz player plus original music. 2008 is Wayne Shorter, 2009 is McCoy Tyner, 2010 is Horace Silver.  All their albums are fantastic, but these 3 are my favorites.  Band includes Miguel Zenon (one of the great young alto players) and astounding drummer Eric Harland, plus bassist Matt Penman and a host of top players.

Donny McCaslin TrioRecommended Tools :  McCaslin is a youngish tenor sax player that came up through David Binney’s bands (and still plays with him). This is a fantastic Tenor trio album with great NY drummer Jonathan Blake. Modern, staccato and great toned.

Antonio SanchezLive In New York : A double album. Sanchez is a drummer that basically never stops soloing.  Good song writer too. Live disc with Scott Colley on bass (great modern player), Miguel Zenon on alto (a force) and David Sanchez on tenor (likewise). Blistering, furious music.

Ralph AlessiLook : Alessi is a trumpet player that it is really unique – quiet but with a free edge. This is fantastic and thought-out album – no blowing session, just wonderfully crafted tunes. Band includes Ravi Coltrane, Andy Milne, Mark Ferber – many of them Steve Coleman spin offs.

Dave HollandExtended Play : Holland has been around forever, and leading a modern band with a host of young players – but whoever is in the band, it always sounds like Holland. This is a good one – a live double disc with Chris Potter on sax and Robin Eubanks on trombone and Billy Kilson on drums, all great players.

FieldworkDoor : A collective trio of Steve Lehman, Vijay Iyer (piano, one of the leading new players) and Tyshawn Sorey. Incredible band and music – this is up there as one of my favorite albums in the past several years. Essential.

Eric HarlandVoyager Live In The Night : One of the greatest drummers probably ever, leads his first album as a leader. Has always been a good writer (see SFJAZZ Collective albums for his tunes flushed out to octet size) here he absolutely crushes this live album. Long, swelling tunes with tons of energy and all that modern goodness. Walter Smith III on tenor sax, an excellent player given lots of space. The drum interludes are unlike any drum solo you’ve heard. Amazing disc.

James FarmJames Farm : Collective band with Joshua Redman, Aaron Parks (piano), Matt Penman (bass) and Eric Harland (drums).  A composed, alt rock sort of feel to the music, this is quality writing and playing. A spin off of 2 fantastic similar lineup albums that came earlier and that Redman heard and wanted to be part of, so he created this collective – Matt Penman’s Catch Of The Day (same band, with Seamus Blake on tenor) and Aaron Parks Invisible Cinema (same trio but with Mike Moreno on guitar) – both excellent albums, all 3 with a  similar feel  and a leaning towards a new sense of jazz writing.

David TornPrezens : Amazingly, a guitarist made my list! Torn is an effects/experimental  player. Top notch outside band – Tim Berne on alto (no one really like him, really aggressive); Craig Taborn, Tom Rainey on drums. Excellent album that has rock and experimental edges.

Drew Gress7 Black Butterflies : Gress is one of the bass players for this new music (plays with Lehman, Binney, Torn, Carrothers (piano player), etc). Tim Berne and Craig Taborn on this disc. Wonderful blend of inside and outside.

Dave HollandTriplicate (with Steve Coleman and Jack DeJohnette) Holland’s late 80’s bands with a  young Steve Coleman. This trio disc is fantastic, with the 3 working out modern takes on jazz classics (Take The Coltrane, Segment). DeJohnette is his typical beastly self.

John EscreetDon’t Fight The Inevitable Simply awesome young piano player, plays a lot with David Binney. This album is an astounding display of ludicrously complicated charts and heads, played perfectly and with emotion, followed by great solos. Modern, edgy, difficult and awesome. Amazing band too – Binney, Ambrose Akinmusire (trumpet), Matt Brewer (bass) and Nasheet Waits on drums. The best in modern