Showing posts from October, 2020

Comfortable in New Orleans: Cyrus Nabipoor leads quintet in 'Live at the Marigny Opera House'

Cyrus Nabipoor is now based in Portland A young trumpeter based in Portland, Oregon, with a strong sentimental link to New Orleans (he's a magna cum laude graduate of Loyola University), Cyrus Nabipoor took a quintet into the former church in 2019 to play his compositions for a concert audience. "Live at the Marigny Opera House" ( documents that comfortable hometown visit to a cultural venue that was a Catholic church from 1853 until the diocese  closed it in 1997.  In its repurposed function, it has been called the Marigny Opera House since 2011 For 144 years, the Marigny was a church. The resonance in the recording is slightly churchy,  and the setting seems copacetic for the music. The venue's original use is alluded to in "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out," one of two tunes borrowed for a concert otherwise featuring Nabipoor compositions.  The comfort zone is settled into, but there's no resting in the hackneyed for these

In 'If Time Could Stand Still,' Gregory Tardy sums up mature viewpoint as a faith-based family man

Gregory Tardy and his band etch midlife testament.  Many of us in and out of the arts have taken on what passes for wisdom with the need to reduce normal activity as the pandemic rages. For a mature jazzman like Gregory Tardy , this summing-up in midlife is captured by "If Time Could Stand Still" ( WJ3 Records ). Though recorded in 2019, the release of this disc last month is timely, as the music's reflectiveness suits the universal pause button that Covid-19 has pressed for everyone. Now at his home base in Tennessee, the tenor saxophonist went into a Brooklyn studio with his quartet (Keith Brown, piano; Alexander Claffy, bass; Willie Jones III, drums) for a program of all originals, except for the standard "Everything Happens to Me." (Trumpeter Alex Norris guests on two of the eight selections.) At 54, Tardy has behind him a wealth of collaborations in the wide jazz world, with associations including Elvin Jones, Andrew Hill, Tom Harrell, Nicholas Payton, and

Dance Kaleidoscope sends a new set of performances out into the world

It's a been a long wait to see performing artists onstage at full strength in freshly minted performances. That's what Dance Kaleidoscope is offering to patrons through Oct. 31 with an artfully filmed program at its usual home, Indiana Repertory Theatre.  Puccini People Plus brings together a full-length piece from 1992, Puccini People , supplemented by excerpts from Food for Love , a work created for DK's residency 19 years ago at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and three solos by Jillian Godwin, the company's senior dancer, who is retiring after 17 years. Using mainly familiar arias from Giacomo Puccini operas, artistic director David Hochoy has built gut-wrenching solos deliberately removed from their operatic context. Puccini had no equal in making memorable art out of needy, emotionally wounded characters, and in this quality Hochoy finds common ground with the originals. Emily Dyson: A joyous leap of materialistic zest Even the blithest selection, Quando men vo

As a particularly challenging winter approaches, release of a new "Winterreise" is timely

 In a time when we are drawn into the maelstrom of our individual emotional centers, finding human interaction risky and often ill-advised, Winterreise, Franz Schubert's most inward-looking song cycle, has a unique appeal in the year of the plague. The settings of 14 songs by Wilhelm Müller, composed in the next-to-last year of Schubert's life (1827), still have a chilling valedictory effect, thanks to their inspired fusing of words and music. Winterreise   is especially welcome in a Music@Menlo r elease performed by Nikolay Borchev and Wu Han. The Russian baritone has taken the measure of the footsore progress of a trudging wayfarer who's trying to actualize a death-wish that has burgeoned from the failed love affair referred to in the opening songs. Winterreise is the embodiment of all failures of the sort that seem to sum up personal existence whenever the heart's deepest desires are thwarted.  Often known as Die Winterreise, the song cycle has by common consent d

International Violin Competition of Indianapolis mounts a revised season, pandemic-delayed, live and live-streamed

Making an adjustment rare for a local music series, the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis has mounted a six-concert series that will kick off with the popular trio Time for Three on Jan. 26, 2021. A new concert site for the 2020-21 series is the Madame Walker Theatre, 617 Indiana Ave. Audiences in attendance will be limited to 140 for each concert, each beginning at 7:30 p.m. Time for Three, which for a decade was the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra 's official ensemble in residence, will bring its diverse repertoire of music for string trio to the series. It was founded by three students at the Curtis Institute of Music about two decades ago by violinists Zachary DePue and Nick Kendall and double bassist Ranaan Meyer. DePue, former ISO concertmaster, has had two successors in Time for Three, currently Charles Yang.  Tessa Lark is also an accomplished fiddler.    On Feb. 23, "Homage to Kreisler" will bring back 2014 silver medalist Tessa Lark , with Amy Y

'Cheap Thrills': On the right side of Rick with the South Florida Jazz Orchestra

  Rick Margitza occupies center stage in "Cheap Thrills," the unprepossessing title of a worthwhile set of his compositions and arrangements on Summit Records . The opportunity, fully taken advantage of, is a release by the South Florida Jazz Orchestra, directed by Chuck Bergeron. All the saxophone solos on the nine-piece program are taken by Margitza, who got international exposure as Miles Davis' tenorman in the late 1980s and has been largely independent since. He provided the SFJO with all the arrangements, which are witty, expansive, and stylish in the modern big-band tradition. The touches of virtuosity required of the ensemble are handily dispatched.  Margitza seems to like to lend a swiss-cheese texture to his charts; there's a lot of staccato bounce to such pieces as "The Place to Be" and "Premonition," keeping the sections on their toes. The rhythmic profile is lively but not overbearing, though I felt the languid samba cruise through &qu

Accordionist-pianist Ben Rosenblum stays aloft in 'Kites and Strings'

There's no tangle ending up in Charlie Brown's nemesis tree when it comes to the musical deftness displayed in "Kites and Strings" ( One Trick Dog ) by Ben Rosenblum 's Nebula Project. This is a well-designed set of balanced ensemble jazz, with solos inserted aptly. When Rosenblum reaches far afield for material — as in a folk song picked up from a Bulgarian women's chorus recording and a tune from Brahms' Fourth Symphony — he always makes it suit the players and the sound terrain that his band calls home. Same with his visits to the Leonard Bernstein and Neil Young songbooks. Besides the leader, the group consists of Jasper Dutz, tenor saxophone and bass clarinet; Wayne Tucker, trumpet; Rafael Rosa, guitar; Marty Jaffe, bass, and Ben Zweig, drums. For the two borrowed pieces, Rosenblum brings in Jeremy Corren as pianist for the Brahms and Bulgarian tracks. Cameo guests add rich flavor to "Bright Above Us" — trombonist Sam Chess and vibraphonist

Our Funny President, chief White House resident, you have us in stitches

Jorge Federico Osorio gathers his own anthology of French music, centered on Debussy

A native of Mexico who is now successfully based in Chicago (faculty member at Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts),  Jorge Federico Osorio recalls encountering French piano music as a child, hearing his mother play it. Later he studied in Paris with Bernard Flavigny and Monique Haas, refining his aptitude for that repertoire at the start of his career. A new recording crowns that durable acquaintance. "The French Album" ( Cedille Records ) is set up as a program that rewards hearing it as if in recital. The disc's design is just part of the attraction. There is also a recording acoustic that's just resonant enough to flatter Osorio's glowing touch. Best of all, there is the pianist's mastery of balance and tone, applied to an intuitive understanding of the music's meaning. The program opens and closes with the two most familiar pieces to bring forward the ancient dance form called the pavane: Gabriel Fauré's piece of that title

Bassist Michael Feinberg writes pieces for places he wants to memorialize

What a jolt to encounter, given the firestorm out of the failure to bring charges against the police officers who killed Brionna Taylor, the dense assault of "Louisville" as the opening track on Michael Feinberg 's "From Where We Came" ( SteepleChase )! The deft arrangement for a five-piece band with two star saxophonists in the front line was written as a tribute to Muhammad Ali's hometown. The piece is especially notable for Dave Liebman's fiery soprano-sax solo and the way it subsides into the reflective clarity of Gary Versace's piano turn. It's inevitably a case of "sting like a bee" juxtaposed with "float like a butterfly."  It's just accidental that the piece and its performance here come off with the ferocity of America's unresolved racial issues. The more positive meaning of Feinberg's intention when he gathered his band for studio sessions in October 2019 is also unmistakable. The leader kicks it off with