That was good and I liked it.
Ask me who my favorite trumpet player is on the scene and I may say Ralph Alessi. Always interesting, always listening. Chops that don’t quit, great tunes, the whole package.
I just saw a great show by him, and that’s all there is to this post. The band was A-level: Jason Moran, Drew Gress, and Nasheet Waits. This was at The Cornelia Street Cafe, probably the most intimate venue around(and cheapest! Ten dollars for two sets of these cats, are you joking?).
Other than everything being really good, the most interesting thing about the concert was the group dynamic. This group has recorded, but Jason didn’t really know the tunes like the back of his hand, so I’m assuming these guys don’t play together so much. They’re all incredibly busy on their own. However, Nasheet and Drew have insane hook up from playing with Fred Hersch, and Nasheet and Jason are just soulmates, so there was this cool dynamic going on.
The rhythm section excelled at two things, comping on really fast swing, and setting up these awe-inspiring groove tapestries, spearheaded by Jason. This was the first time I’ve ever seen Jason play live in a performance setting(after the rainout in Detroit), so the whole show I was pretty much focused on him. On paper, he’s the ideal pianist on the scene for me. Monk, Mal Waldron, Geri Allen, Muhal, Herbie Nichols, Hasaan, Andrew Hill and of course Jaki Byard. Our A-Lists are a complete overlap(although he’s got a whole lot more in the ways of popular and informed classical influences than I do). I’m not ready to make a total judgement call on him yet; he’s got some things coming up that I’m going to see, and then I’ll make a call after I know his sideman work more. I thouroughly enjoyed everything he played, though. My biggest admiration is that in setting up these grooves, he was unafraid to play the same thing over and over, acting like a drummer more than a pianist, shading it with nuance rather than variation. He also reached into some feels that I’ve never heard done well before. It’s hard to describe, it feels like a circular constant eighth note feel. For the record, I like his hip-hop influenced feel better than Glasper or anyone else I’ve heard.
It was interesting to see how much Herbie and Geri Allen were in his playing last night. It’s possible that the Herbie is via Geri, but I’ve never heard him play any Herbie really. We all get in moods sometimes, maybe it was a one-off. The Geri was there in full force, in the form of out of time runs that are amorphous and ever shifting. Jason does this all the time on all records, but usually he does it more angularly, not with softer edges like Geri does now. Geri used to be more angular with this kind of thing as well, but not as angular as Jason on record. Sometimes Jason throws out all subtlety with that kind of thing and just goes for it, something that may well have come from Jaki(which I adore about him).
Anyway, buy the record, all the tunes from it were great, there is a 350 swing tune where bassists can get a lesson from Drew, and the band is about as high level as you can get in this idiom.
Jason Moran opening for Geri Allen at the 92st Y Tribeca on the 21st. Bring a friend and something to keep your mouth from hanging open.
TBP Vanguard post coming next.
“He’s out there right now, probably having a barbecue or something” —Reid Anderson, announcing after “Cheney Pinata” by EI