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The cats in the big apple

A couple of weeks ago I returned from an eight days long vacation in NYC. I brought with me so many good memories from my travel, and I’ll share some of them in this post.

Jeremy Pelt Quintet

The first jazz I got to hear in NYC was created by none other than the eminent trumpeter, Jeremy Pelt. Together with Victor Gould (piano), Vicente Archer (bass), Jaquelene Acevedo (percussion) and Jonathan Barber (drums), Jeremy created magic on stage at 55 Bar. Their music was authentic, yet experimental, and Jeremy’s authoritative sound made me prick up my ears and listen carefully to every single note he shared with us this evening.

Towards the end of the concert, Jaleel Shaw payed a visit to 55 Bar and, of course, he was invited to join the quintet on stage. Hence, to finish off the concert Jeremy and Jaleel both delivered some exquisite solos.

After the concert I had the pleasure of talking a little with Jeremy and Jaleel, and in addition to being amazing musicians, they both have great personalities.

Earlier this year Jeremy released the album #JIVECULTURE to great reviews in, among others, the New York Times. No wonder.

Mark Whitfield

The second concert I attended was at a place in NYC called The Django. For this specific concert Mark Whitfield brought an interesting unit of musicians. With him on stage he had Byron Moore (vocals and nylon guitar), Yonatan Levy (bass), Corey Rawls (drums) and Jason Arce (saxophone).

According to the musicians they hadn’t had the chance to play much together before this concert, but that didn’t matter at all. Their sound was perfectly unpolished. There’s nothing like hearing and watching jazz musicians create great music on the spot.

I learned from my conversation with Byron that, in addition to being a musician, he is a drawer. He has his own web page where he posts his art works, link.

Joshua Redman and Brad Mehldau

My favourite musician was playing in New York while I was there. I’d been looking forward to this concert for a long time. I’ve seen Joshua play together with many different musicians, and I’ve had different expectations of each concert. This time I got to see him share the stage with Brad Mehldau, and I expected this concert would be a beautiful one.

The concert was indeed breathtakingly beautiful! Redman and Mehldau invited the audience to an emotional, as well as intellectual musical conversation. I’m usually most fond of small intimate jazz stages, however, with their humour and cheerfulness Redman and Mehldau managed to create an intimate atmosphere at the Rose Theatre. At the risk of repeating myself, I will say again that Joshua Redman speaks through his instrument in a way no one else does.

After the concert, we had to get a move on to catch the next concert. So, there was a quick change of venue…

The E.J. Strickland Quintet

From the Rose Theatre to The Django…

I’ve been listening a lot to both E.J. and Marcus Strickland’s music. I didn't think I’d get a chance to see and hear The E.J. Strickland Quintet while I was in NYC. But, as luck would have it, they had a concert at The Django the very same week I was there. E.J. brought with him on stage his twin brother Marcus Strickland (tenor and soprano saxophones), Jaleel Shaw (alto saxophone), Victor Gould (piano) and Jonathan Michel (bass).

This was a show from beginning to end. It’s not possible to sit still while listening to this quintet! E.J. delivered some mind-blowing solos, and the dialogue between Marcus and Jaleel was fascinating.

Just before my trip to NYC I had made a drawing of E.J. and Marcus entitled “building bridges”, and it was wonderful to hear them bring together different styles of music in their jazz compositions for two whole sets.

I had a very nice talk with E.J., Marcus and Jaleel between the sets. Towards the end of the concert Mark Whitfield joined the audience, and after a long and interesting talk about politics, music, and so forth, Mark took my mom and me to Smalls for a seriously cool jam session with young enthusiastic musicians. It was so inspiring!

Joey Alexander trio

The last night in NYC we had tickets to see the Joey Alexander trio with the young pianist Joey Alexander, bassist Larry Grenadier, and drummer Ulysses Owens, Jr. The concert took place at the Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola. This was an album release party for Alexander’s album, Countdown.

Joey’s technical abilities are surely impressive. However, I find the maturity in the way he communicates with the other musicians particularly inspiring.

Special thanks to Ulysses Owens, Jr. who, with his drum solos, made this evening sensational.

Emmet Cohen trio

After the concert with Joey Alexander trio, Emmet Cohen entered the stage with Russel Hall (bass) and Kyle Poole (drums).

Emmet Cohen gave the members of his trio a lot of individual room to experiment and improvise. There was a lot of energy and playfulness in the way these musicians performed, and they gave the audience a real show. The concert gradually turned into a jam session and we got to hear lots of other musicians perform together with Cohen.

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