I retired from my job on August 29 and although I didn't plan it that way I ended up celebrating after a fashion by seeing live music all this weekend, something I wouldn't have dared done while I was working.
Friday I went to a concert in the Capitol Bop DC Jazz Loft series, something that's been going on for a couple of years but which I had never attended before at their home base in DC's Northeast market/warehouse district. The lead performer was Todd Marcus, a bass clarinetist who plays that instrument with amazing facility and skill and led a quartet that also featured a fire-breathing saxophonist in Gregory Tardy.
The eye opener for me at that show though was the opening act, pianist Dwayne Adell who was amazing. Adell plays with astonishing speed and dexterity in a style that combines stride bass, classical ornamentation and gravity coming off like some mad cross between Art Tatum and McCoy Tyner. His hands flew along the keyboard at 100 miles an hour with improvisations that seemed incredibly complex but always had weight, drive and logic to them. Even more impressive he chose to do this on mostly standard fare like "Stella By Starlight" and a Jobim bossa nova from Black Orpheus. The man's playing was scary.
Saturday I went to the Rosslyn Jazz Festival, an outdoor event that usually comes up with one or two acts every year that I want to see. This year the heat was so intense I couldn't hang for the whole show but I did manage to see Brian Carpenter's Ghost Train Orchestra, a unit of New York players that plays the music of jazz bands from the 20's and 30's. They dig deep into the repertoire unearting pieces by the likes of Tiny Parham, Fess Williams and Don Redman and play the work with modern panache and a touch of anarchy coming from banjo player Brandon Seabrook and a tuba player and violinist whose names I didn't catch.
On their most recent CD the orchestra went up the timeline a bit and played "novelty" pieces from the 30's and 40's by composers like Raymond Scott, Reginald Forsyth and Alec Wilder. I was a little disappointed that they didn't pull out any of that work live but what they did play went down nicely.
That brings us to Sunday and a show I had been circling ever since I heard about it months ago, the
|Laubrock and Rainey|
The group consisted of herself on tenor sax, Tim Berne on alto sax, Ben Gerstein on trombone, Dan Peck on tuba and Tom Rainey on drums. Laubrock's work uses a wide spectrum of sound ranging from high-pitched squeals to static low drones. She often broke down the band into subunits of two or three with the two saxophones bubbling together or Gerstein blaring and roaring all over Rainey's endless carpet of rolling rhythms, something he created as often with his bare hands as his drum sticks. Berne played lovely flowing lines with his usual energy, Peck was constantly keeping the bass part going and Gerstein made hair-raising sounds, especially when he attached a reed to his trombone mouthpiece and made very un-trombone like wails, but the most commanding figure was Laubrock herself. She has a unqie way of playing that utilizes barks, whinnies and other wild sounds, sometimes even taking off the entire tenor mouthpiece and blowing right into the metal horn. She particularly sounds simpatico with Rainey, who it so happens is her husband. Their rattling and thumping sounded like a hailstorm. Then in the middle of all that sturm und drang she laid back and played a stretch of lovely pure melody thsat sounded like the sun coming out after a downpour.
The first set was taken up completely by a suite that traveled all over the place and the second had some bits of time playing, ending up in a parade march rhythm playedjmostly straight by Rainey and the brass while the saxes flew around frantically throwing monkey wrenches into the groove.
Ingrid Laubrock is one of the most exciting composers and saxophonists around today and Tom Rainey is a criminally underrated drummer.