Monday, May 16, 2011

Spring announcements

These last weeks of May are busy ones. Lots of announcements follow:

Thursday, May 19, Montreal Gazette columnist Sue Montgomery has organized a benefit concert entitled Bougez pour Haiti. A reprise of her successful event last year, all proceeds will be donated to a public high school in Limbé, and a Decamus business school in Port-au-Prince. I'll be performing with two members of Nomadic Massive, Vox Sambou (who was born in Limbé) and Waahli Yussef. Also on the bill are Emrical, Adris da Prince, and a photo expo from Magee McIlvane. It all goes down at La Sala Rossa (4848 St-Laurent), doors at 8 pm, $20 in advance, $25 at the door, and $15 for students.

Sunday, May 22, vocalist Barbara Reney has organized a marathon Jazz for Japan benefit at the Rialto Theatre (5723 Parc). Starting at 5 pm and running till midnight, it will feature many of Montreal's finest musicians, including Thom Gossage's Other Voices, Parc-X Trio, and Sonia Johnson. I'll be performing with Gary Schwartz's LETTINGO, and with singer Nico Beki. Tickets are on a sliding scale between $15-$30.

Wednesday, May 25, my friends in Kite are launching their début record at Casa del Popolo (4873 St-Laurent). Guitarist Eric Couture-Telmosse, bassist Paul van Dyk, and drummer Eric Dew have been hard at work on this project, and the album bears the fruits of their labour. Recorded in an Ontario barn after a tour, it's a great document of band simpatico and balanced compositional voices (all three write for the group). Paul was kind enough to ask Indigone Trio to open the party! It's free, and there will be food, booze and merch! It starts at 9 pm.

Friday, May 06, 2011

New York 2011 travel diary

Monday after sitting through never-ending rush hour traffic in the Lincoln Tunnel, I got off the bus and headed straight to (Le) Poisson Rouge. It was Matana Roberts' listening party to launch Coin Coin: Gens de Couleur Libres. As I went down the stairs, I heard the "Lullaby" section of the piece playing. LPR is a very big, dark room, a little bit disorienting after 8 hours on a bus. With the dimensions and vibe of the room, it felt very strange to not have a band playing onstage, instead to have a record playing while people congregated at the bar or hung out on couches. I met a couple of close friends of Matana's, beautiful people all, and got to relive the memories of the session - the album was recorded live during the biggest rainstorm of last summer, and we suffered two power outages during soundcheck. I remember Matana asking engineer Radwan Moumneh, "What happens if the power goes down during the recording?" "Well, then, there's a gap in the recording." The spirits were with us that night, and the power and technology behaved. Thanks to the directions of Matana and co., I took a much easier route to Indigone bassist Alex Mallett's place out in South Slope.

Tuesday was spent with singer and good friend Jean Rohe. Around lunchtime, we prepped for our short duo dinner set at Caffe Vivaldi, a tiny, unassuming Italian resto on Jones Street in Greenwich Village. There's always a great energy playing with Jean. Killing time before the show, I went to Tropicalia in Furs, drooled over records, only picking up a couple, and listening to many more. Other record stores in the area that I set foot in were Other Music and Good Records. Very dangerous places. I stumbled on a Carioca transplant playing sambas outside Music Inn on W 4, and invited him down to the gig. The hang continued at Kush, with Ben Allison's weekly residency with Shane Endsley and Steve Cardenas. Jean introduced me to Rogerio Boccato, who sat in on percussion. Also in the audience were Jo Lawry and James Shipp. James, Jean and Rogerio all had their pandeiros with them so it became a real jam session. As Ben remarked, a bit stunned, "Only in New York will there be three pandeiro players... in the audience!"

Wednesday was a dismal, cold and miserable day. I caught up on e-mail, went to Roots Café with Alex's girlfriend, and watched a movie. Headed out to Alex's show at Judson Memorial, a church that hosts "Bailout Theater," an outreach initiative serving food and music to whoever needs it. Alex has been writing great, witty banjo-driven tunes over the past couple of years, and he played them with his new band featuring ex-Montrealers Nico Dann & Alan Biller; I sat in on a few tunes. Afterwards I walked over to NuBlu and caught a long, fantastic, thrilling night of Brazilian music. First up was drummer Adriano Santos' quartet with Helio Alves, Alex Han and Dave Ambrosio. They made me feel like I was back in São Paulo, playing obscure Jovino Santos Neto tunes and a wicked arrangement of Baden Powell's "Consolação." Adriano has that swingue that marks a lot of the fantastic samba-jazz drummers. They were followed by Forró in the Dark, who packed the place (at midnight on a Wednesday - every Wednesday) and turned it into a sweaty dancing mess. I spotted Anat Cohen dancing up a storm beside the stage.

Thursday I met up with publicist extraordinaire Matt Merewitz, who gave me a whole whack of releases to check out from promising new artists and established figures on the scene. Lots of listening to tackle now that I'm home. I grabbed a drink with Alex (our only time to catch up because even though I was staying at his place, our schedules were entirely different), and then headed out to the Vanguard for Guillermo Klein y Los Guachos.

Wow. I knew some of Guillermo's music before, but the power of hearing all those intricate, interlocking parts and entrancing grooves right in front of me was astounding. They played lots of new music (most of which will hopefully land on the upcoming recording). Standouts were "Moreira" (someone correct me if I've misspelled it) and his orchestration of Ginastera's First Piano Sonata. I say orchestration because it appeared that Guillermo was reading from the piano score, while the horns sounded like an extension of his hands. Klein is a democratic and modest bandleader, letting the compositions, arrangements, and hand-picked soloists come forward. There is a beautiful poetry in his lyrics too - he translated one line of "Moreira" for me but I cannot remember it at the moment. One tune had great saxophone triologue from Chris Cheek, Miguel Zenón, and Bill McHenry. Zenon sounded brilliant as usual on "Moreira." Percussionist Richard Nant and drummer Jeff Ballard complemented each other and sounded like one massive kit. I had the pleasure of meeting Guillermo, Miguel, Bill, and Taylor Haskins after the show, congratulating them all.

Friday I had brunch with saxophonist Jon Lindhorst at Wally's Square Root Café. We caught up about the NYC scene, the Montreal scene and who is where now. I packed up my bag and began the long, long, journey home. For those who are wondering, there's not much difference between the train and the bus - the train, I think, is more comfortable and takes marginally more time; the bus is equipped with Wi-Fi and there are multiple ones running throughout the day.

Thanks again to everyone who made this trip a memorable one.