My own thoughts--for me.
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Friday, January 02, 2004

Live Music 

When I was in NY for Christmas I had a free night to go out and hear jazz by myself. Instead of returning to a club I love, Smoke, I was seduced by the big names. John Abercrombie and Larry Coryell, legendary avant garde guitarists I've known about for years, were playing in a trio with a third person, female guitarist, vocalist, and body percussionist, Badi Assad. The club is called Jazz Standard. The two men are well-known for their work over the years exploring atmospheric and modal approaches to guitar jazz, sort of like Keith Jarrett's piano before his recent return to standards. I don't know why I went, since I've never really been moved by either of their styles. In the guitar trio format the effect was really very boring.

There were two bright spots. Assad's free and fun approach to sound--slapping, humming, whistling, in the rich spirit of her Brazilian roots--has to make you smile. Partly because it's a little bit funny, but mostly because it's just fun. The other bright spot was one mostly solo piece by Abercrombie called "Falling Grace." I haven't found out if this piece is on a record but I will get it if I can. There's a haunting presence of early blues or ragtime guitar moaning through his own cutting edge innovative style. The references are so direct I wish I'd asked him if the piece is, in some sense, about those comparisons. I have to say the club was disappointing too. There was less than an hour of music, and then time for an hour break before the next set. If the next set sells out, then everyone is evacuated. I've never been to a club like that before and it didn't seem like the most fun way to spend the $25 cover charge. I wish I'd gone to Smoke.

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