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.