November 22, 2015
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We’d keep going, but you get the idea. What a privilege to present four such musically empathic and restless artists—pushing the limits first note to last, creating something from nothing. A Socratic Dialogue of free improvisation, recorded for release.
And that first note: Richard Davis setting the tone for the afternoon by striking his bass strings with a drumstick. At age 85 still seeking provoking. What Andrew Cyrille, Angelica Sanchez and Aska Kaneko built, unbuilt and reimagined with Davis for the next 40-plus minutes was everything we’d hoped for: kinetic, somber, buoyant, playful; teetering into dissolution and then cohering, again, into something utterly new. So too the encore, Cyrille driving the group with a cracking pace on the kit.
Peter Bodge, the Walking Jazz Encyclopedia who created the artwork for last year’s Eric Dolphy festival—and drove five hours from Massachusetts to catch this show—put it well:
I have been fortunate enough to see Louis Armstrong in person. I have seen the Max Roach/Clifford Brown Quintet, Miles’s Kind of Blue sextet, and Coltrane’s group with Pharoah, Alice, Garrison & Garrett, Elvin and Ali. What I experienced on November 22nd was one of those. Richard, Aska, Angelica and Andrew created a Music in which, as Nicole Mitchell once said, ”…every time you play, time stops…”
A week later, it is still inside of me, singing and dancing…(More than) thanks to the musicians, and kudos to Seed Artists and The Jazz Room for allowing them to do that.
Those who came early caught a pre-concert Sittin’ In Q&A with Davis and Cyrille. Among the highlights, Davis’s recounting of the time that Coltrane asked him to join his band. (Convinced at the time that the great Coltrane couldn’t possibly have been serious, Davis “didn’t say anything, just kept walking.” Davis said that years later, McCoy Tyner told him that Coltrane had indeed been serious, and spoke often of Davis.)
A quartet of William Paterson students opened the concert with a nimble, swinging set that belied their youth and is a testament to WP’s small-group-driven program—this is one of two dozen small working ensembles—which produces not just chops but XXXX. The players:
Abel Mireles (El Paso, TX), tenor sax
Conor Grogan (Coopersberg, PA), guitar
Connor Koch (Sciota, PA), bass
Micah Walker (St. Louis, MO), drums
Many thanks to David Demsey and Pete McGuiness in the Jazz Studies Department at WP–two of the Good Guys–and the staff and students who made this first collaboration such a success. Heartening as well to see in the audience a half-dozen Jazz House Kids students, who attended gratis courtesy of Seed Artists and WP.
Thanks also to Robert Sutherland-Cohen—photographer, Friend of Seed (FOS), and just a stand-up fellow, who again provided us with great photos.
Stay tuned for updates on the release of the recording. And please do get out and experience the music. See you at the next show.