SF Jazz Collective at Jazz Standard

by Steven Pisano

David Sanchez, SF Jazz Collective, Jazz Standard

With members hailing originally from Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Israel, and across the U.S., the lineup of the all-star SF Jazz Collective brings an international flavor to their fluid and thoughtful style of post-bop jazz. Their mastery was in full force at their recent week-long residency at Jazz Standard; I caught them last Friday.

Formed in San Francisco in 2004, the Collective features a revolving membership. Each year, their repertoire includes one new piece from each of its eight members, and the balance features the work of an earlier jazz great. This year’s honoree is tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson, who recorded albums for Blue Note in the 1960s and Verve in the 1990s.

There is a Latin splash to the current configuration of the Jazz Collective - though it's more like adding some salsa picante to an existing dish. Robin Eubanks, widely regarded as one of the finest trombonists of his generation, took something of a back seat to the leads set by Edward Simon on piano, David Sanchez on tenor sax, and Miguel Zenon on alto.

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Sounbox Percussion Play New Works at Concerts on the Slope

Soundbox PercussionIf you were to ask me five years ago how many percussion ensembles I could name, the answer would be, One: Sō Percussion. But, while Sō remains the gold standard in percussion quartets, they have given spawn to a whole new generation of percussion ensembles: Mantra, Iktus Percussion, Third Coast Percussion

Enter Sandbox Percussion, whom I heard for the first time this past Sunday at Park Slope's Concerts on the Slope series, where they made their debut in 2012. (Robert Leeper reviewed their performance at Kettle Corn New Music last September.) These four talented young musicians (Ian David Rosenbaum, Jonathan Allen, Victor Caccese, and Terry Sweeney) brought a focus and intensity to their playing which belies their years: all of them are in their mid-20's.

Aside from the precision and energy with which they played, Sunday's concert was also remarkable for the number of young composers on the program. In addition to Sandbox members Victor Caccese (Chatter) and Jonathan Allen (Interlude), there were works by L.A. based Thomas Kotcheff (b. 1988) and Yale masters student Natalie Dietterich (b. 1992). Most of the music was tonal and accessible, if somewhat lacking in depth and complexity. 

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Preview: The Four o'clock Flowers at the Brooklyn Folk Festival This Weekend

by Stephen Policoff

Four oclock flowerPhoto by Valery Lyman

This weekend, the 7th annual Brooklyn Folk Festival takes place at St. Ann's Church in Brooklyn Heights, with more than 30 bands playing a mix of old-time music, folk, blues, jug band, bluegrass, traditional Irish and Balkan music. There will also be vocal and instrumental workshops, a family-friendly square dance, jam sessions, film screenings, and the (in)famous Banjo Toss contest.

Among those scheduled to perform are The Four o’clock Flowers, who create an enticing and intoxicating sound—folk, gospel, country, blues, jazz—from the multicolored blossoms of traditional American music. Together, Ernie Vega and Samoa Wilson make music that feels eerily old yet provocatively new: the primal wail of Mattie Mae Thomas’s “Dangerous Blues,” the dark humor of Lead Belly’s “Poor Howard,” the limpid melancholy of the Prisonaire’s “Just Walking in the Rain.” Ernie’s spectral slide guitar is featured on “I Shall Not Be Moved,” while Samoa’s postmodern twist on an ancient Celtic lament can be heard in her own, “Irish Bar.”

Tickets and info on the Brooklyn Folk Festival here. A brief interview with Vega and Wilson after the jump.

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The Mountain Goats at Webster Hall

the mountain goats
California's Mountain Goats played a sold out show at Webster Hall last Thursday in celebration of their new release, Beat the Champ. The crowd was as broad an audience as you could imagine: lifelong Lower East Siders who had known the Indie Folk vets for years from their original cassette and record releases stood side by side with early twenty-somethings who were introduced to the group by hearing their music on the Showtime series “Weeds.” But once the music started, the audience listened as one. 

There were cathartic moments where the band seemed to offer up lyrics to the rock gods of old. Throughout the song “This Year,” you could feel the energy of the room release the most human of emotions as the chorus of “I’m going to make it through this year if it kills me,” reverberated throughout the hall.  In an inadvertent “Welcome to NYC” moment, some of the quieter sections were wiped out by noise bleed from a performance downstairs in The Studio. Frontman John Darnielle brushed it off like a true veteran, managing to get the audience to laugh about it.

In addition to Darnielle, The Mountain Goats' current lineup consists of drums, bass and lead guitar. Bassist Peter Hughes' solid playing, spot on harmonies and overall enthusiasm were outshined only by his boss plaid suit.

The Mountain Goats performed over twenty songs, including two encores.  Despite the pop emo music emanating from downstairs, on this night Webster Hall was the poster child for Indie Folk.

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