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Swedish American Hall, SF

October 27, 2012


The first night in what could be Tony Malaby Week, if I do as I should.  He is in the area all week, playing 3 shows with different bands – very exciting. I’ve been making my own mini-festivals these days. This was part of SFJAZZ festival, and I’ve been excited about this one since long before they even announced the schedule and Randell Kline told me they were coming when I was harassing him in Yoshis at the James Farm show. No Nasheet, but still all great players. Ferber I’ve seen with Ralph Alessi in the past, and he’s a great player, but I was surprised to see him in such a free setting. He played great though.

The show was just 2 huge slabs of music running between what apparently were songs (I overheard William Parker giving out the set list afterwards) – and, oddly, they had sheet music, which they even occasionally turned, even though I could find nothing in here that would have needed to have been read – I mean, this was FREE people. You composed this? Really?

David S Ware just died like a week or so ago, and both Keith Cuderbach and I, separately, felt they were channeling him a bit – I personally was hoping for an encore of Mikaro’s Blues, but nope – no encore. Still, there did seem to be a subtle undercurrent of DSW’s music here, especially in the torrential Malaby playing. TM was a force. He has just a gorgeous full tone and never fails to use it – plus, he spend huge amounts of his time playing split-tones, squeals, honks and scronks and just generally all-around noisy music – but it was great. Like a lot of freely improvised music, it has its moments, both good and bad – and although there was nothing even approaching bad, there were longeurs, and then there were stretches of tremendous intensity and wonderful playing. This is music that ranges widely and deeply over all sorts of terrains.

WP is so good – no one really plays the bass like him, or CAN play the bass like him – it’s like putty in his hands, and he molds it into all sorts of things, but always that rich, ringing, beautifully full and deep tone (although this hall is not the best sound-wise – esp for drums and bass). The four night mini-fest continues tomorrow night with Roscoe Mitchell, Tyshawn Sorey and Hugh Ragin. There’s been a couple of weeks like that recently – a wonderful thing.

TONY MALABY – tenor sax




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