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24. New York City Winter Jazz Fest vol. 2

For me, there’s no better way to cure sleepiness than to find shelter in a jazz club in the Village, sit down, order a glass of wine, close my eyes, breath in the atmosphere and listen. Hence, after a long flight my first stop in NYC was Mezzrow, this time to hear two of New York’s best guitarists, Peter Bernstein and Lage Lund. The intimate setting framed their communicative and playful performance perfectly.

The following night I went to The Public Theater to hear Samora Pinderhughes’ The Transformation Suite. His project combines music, film and poetry. One of the reasons I went to hear this concert was that he had Marcus Strickland on saxophone with him, and whenever the opportunity present itself to hear him play, I always try to grab it.

Some things are worth waiting a long time for. Joshua Redman’s concert at Blue Note was one of them. Redman had a residency at Blue Note, with a quartet featuring Aaron Goldberg, Reuben Rogers and Gregory Hutchinson. Like I said, well worth the wait! After the first concert at Blue Note I went to Zinc Bar where Theo Croker led a jam session. Roy Hargrove, Marcus Strickland and Kassa Overall took the stage just to mention a few. All in all, a great night in New York City.

After having heard Redman’s quartet the first night, I went back to hear them play three more times, so in a way Blue Note became a residence for me too that week. Throughout the week, the audience got to hear some of Redman’s early compositions as well as some new ones. Some of his new compositions are among the most beautiful I’ve heard. However, one performance rendered me completely speechless, and that was “When the Sun Comes Down”. Because they invited musicians up to the stage I was lucky enough to also hear, among others Kendrick Scott, Walter Smith III, Clarence Penn, Aaron Parks, Theo Croker and many more.

I also went to hear Theo Croker’s Big Brother Big Band at Le Poisson Rouge. This was a real treat. Theo led his band through a structured but soulful concert filled with creativeness, humor and joy. Theo’s band consists of so many strong personalities, and with such a generous band leader they all had the opportunity to make their mark on the compositions. Theo is a tough soul who plays with his heart.

I also got to hear the great drummer, E.J. Strickland, play on two occasions. First, at Dizzy Club Coca Cola, and later at Zinc Bar. At Dizzy’s I also ran into the great saxophone player Jaleel Shaw who I heard during one of my previous visits to NYC. At Zinc Bar E.J. played with a trio with Manuel Valera and Doug Weiss. Manuel Valera’s new compositions took the audience on an impressive journey through our solar system.

Last, but surly not least, I heard Jeremy Pelt play at Smoke Jazz Club, with among others Vincent Herring and Victor Gould. Another great performance by some of NYC’s brilliant jazz cats. It’s always a pleasure to hear Jeremy play. So much strength and tenderness captured in one musical voice.

In addition to listening to all this great music, I got to see good friends, make some new friends, hang at Smalls and stroll up and down the avenues (which seems to empty my bank account every time…). New York never disappoints, and I always leave with the promise of coming back soon…

(I’m already planning my next trip).

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