Being in New York in January for the Jazz Connect Convention has many advantages, but the best is that at the same time the 2 day Winter Jazzfest is happening. Venues like the Nublu, Poisson Rouge, Sullivan Hall, Zinc Bar, The Bitter End and Bowery Electric (plus others) are showcasing jazz acts all night. The way it works is pretty interesting – one buys a pass for the night and the walks around the Village from venue to venue and checks out what is individually of interest. The pass gives you access to all venues and showcases. I came in on the 9th but was to tired to go out, but Thursday I went to see a pre-Winter Jazz gig at the Nublu: Craig Handy’s 2nd Line Smith. A New Orleans take on the music of Jimmy Smith – groovy, funky, powerful music and a lot of fun.
Friday it was The Bitter End – first the full set of Julian Lage and Nels Cline – extraordinary guitar improvisations by the masters of two generations. I knew how good both individually are, but together they just blew me away with the deep understanding and always interesting improvisations they delivered – usually with a big smile on their faces. Outstanding.
They were followed by a set by trombonist Curtis Fowlkes and his gang – poetry and modern jazz in a very interesting and attention catching way.A newer version of the Jazz Passengers.
The last one I catched at the Bitter End that night was bass player Charnett Moffet with Wil Calhoun and Marc Cay. A groovy modern affair with electronics and funky rhythms. Should be an interesting record, as the program was from his forthcoming Motema-Album.
Saturday I opened my music night at 11 pm at the Poisson Rouge – with the James Carter Organ Trio – powerful and deep musically as they always are – getting the audience screaming while making them listen to the finer side of jazz at the same time. Then it was Gregory Porter (same venue) and he was as great as he seems to be on stage whenever I see him – superb performance by one of the most promising song writers and singers of our time – he got it all. Love the way he sings and expresses his emotions. A heartfelt recommendation for everyone, not only jazz fans. I was lucky, as the third band I wanted to see that night performed at the Poisson Rouge as well, so I never had to leave my space at the bar …. Bugge Wesseltoft and friends with Erik Truffaz on trumpet, plus percussions, sax, drums and bass. Musicians from all over the world performing together in the typical free funk of Bugge and creating beautiful ambient sounds and powerful rhythms for the soloists to go crazy over. No better way to end the Winter Jazzfest 2013 at around 3 am ……
Hope to be back for next year’s edition.