Wednesday, December 13, 2006

NY travel journals - December

Monday's train got in at a relatively decent hour, surprisingly. I went up to Smoke, as per routine, and the guest was once again Dr. Eddie Henderson. It was quite the humbling opening set - his flugel feature on "Portrait of Jenny" was sublime. Jeremy Pelt was there again, and blew well on Mike LeDonne's set-closing shuffle blues.

Tuesday was a scramble, trying to complete my piece before the BMI meeting, and then getting gouged by Kinko's printing rates. The meeting was co-led by Jim and Mike, although Jim really had the reins for most of it. I made a novice transposition error in my cut-and-paste haste, and the problems in the excerpt I brought were rather obvious, but it helped to focus the rest of the chart. I'm looking forward to the reading next week.

I finally set foot in the hallowed 55 Bar, and checked out the David Binney group who had just returned from Montreal. Mark Turner had fallen ill on Monday in Montreal, so skipped the New York gig. It was revelatory to hear Binney in an exposed quartet setting - my familiarity lies with his larger bands (South, Balance, and Welcome to Life) as well as his work with Michael Herring's sextet. I think I prefer the larger bands, because the blend of piano with guitar, and tenor with alto, gives a lushness to Binney's work, and softens some of the rough edges in his sound. The edges and angles were on full display last night, with Craig Taborn coaxing some roaring, beating textures out of the low end of the Rhodes, and Dan Weiss' scruffy percussion (including brushes on a copy of the Village Voice - quite possibly all that it's good for anymore - and drumming with what looked to be butter knives). Thomas Morgan's amp was running afoul with all sorts of buzz and hum, but he was sonically present - hammering out the odd-meter ostinati and unleashing quadruple-stop strums on a pedal-based tune, and weaving this beautiful solo on the closing ballad of the set (sounded like "Our Time Together," but I wasn't positive).

Today was spent making progress on the piece, and procuring a new NYC cell phone. It's been dark and gray all day, and I haven't been able to properly sleep - I found myself in a strange mood during dinner. The piece started life as a reflection on the ability to be in a large city, surrounded by stimuli and other people, and yet feel completely solitary, which seemed to be a very apt reflection of the day. I am meeting up with old friend Gordon Webster later tonight, so I'm not turning into a hermetic composer bug... yet.

No comments: