Sunday, April 12, 2020

Review and pondering: Jazz From Hell

In the days and nights leading up to the covid-19 lock down, many of we night people were convinced that the virus and resultant urgency would be captured: It has to be, this is New York; they can't just close down the damned city! But the reality set in all too soon. As one who is a music reviewer, a performer and event organizer, life without nightlife feels awfully hollow. One can count their blessings of health, but shuttered nightclubs, bars and halls remain a terrible sight. When I look back on the last show reviewed just before it all hit the fan, an event dubbed JAZZ FROM HELL, I realize how prescient that moment was.

Since the quarantine, I've been writing one hell of a lot and this includes an Apr 4 poem called "A Fallout Unspoken" which was just published in an international anthology (more on that in my next posting). But this last live review, completed on the cusp of corona chaos, somehow never made it into this blog. So, as I complete a bit of site clean-up, here it is:

NYC Jazz Record, NY@Night, April 2020 issue

“Jazz From Hell”: Kilter, ir, Titan to Tachyons
NuBlu 151, NYC, March 10

Performance review by John Pietaro

The tandem NuBlu performance spaces, favorites among the avant, boldly program improvisational new music with disparate strains of jazz and rock from the underground. Now with “Jazz From Hell” (March 10), Nublu 151 reached still deeper. Organizer Laurent David affirmed that the event title was an homage to the Frank Zappa album, but much of the music seemed inspired by…other forces. Opening was Titans to Trachyon led by composer-guitarist Sally Gates with drummer Kenny Grohowski (John Zorn, Brand X) and Matt Hollenberg all over a baritone electric guitar. The desired effects—surreal and sci-fi heavy—were evident over rhythmic accents and rapid shifts of meter and dynamics led from within by Growhowski. Next was the duo ir: 12-string banjo player Mick Barr and cajon player Erik Malave. Barr’s rolling melodic patterns against the rumbling cajon were wonderfully subject to phasing (a la Steve Reich), sashaying downbeats in this direction or that, to great effect. The final set belonged to Kilter, which included Growhowski, Ed Rosenberg III, whose bass saxophone was electronically armed, and bassist Laurent David. The trio erupted in thickets of sound with bass and bass sax unisons shredding the house. Rosenberg ignited visions of Adrian Rollini (Braxton too) as his horn painted the venue black, Growhowski drove mercilessly and by the time vocalist Andromeda Anarchia joined in, the sheer volume became an entity. Her howl recalled Diamanda Galas, dipping into Death Metal lows and ghostly highs, at once conjuring the evening’s necessary brimstone.

Saturday, February 8, 2020


Café Bohemia hosts West Village Word’s Neo-Beat experience

New York, NY: West Village Word, a monthly curation at the legendary Cafe Bohemia by poet and jazz journalist John Pietaro, launches Wednesday, February 26. This month’s artists, featured in 45-minute sets, are downtown perennials Puma Perl & Friends and rising stars Lindsey Wilson & the Human Hearts. Pietaro’s duo SHADOWS will play a brief opening to each set. The series, planned for the last Wednesday of each month, will present integrated spoken word and music, conjuring Greenwich Village's underground arts past while exploring today’s unique JazzPoetry, Neo-Beat and Post-Punk poets.

Café Bohemia was a favorite 1950s haunt of jazz legends such as Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Art Blakey and Cannonball Adderly as well as the original Beat Generation writer, Jack Kerouac. The club, recently re-opened in its original address, is already being touted as a space for a creative community displaced by ever-rising costs. “The heritage of this place is built into its foundation”, Café Bohemia manager Christine Santelli states. “You can feel it. Between 1955 and ’60, most every jazz great played here and many recorded live on the club’s stage”. The space’s history goes back to the 1940s when, as the Pied Piper, it hosted stride piano pioneer James P. Johnson and traditional jazz trumpeter Max Kaminsky.
With live music scheduled seven nights per week—from the “cool” progressive and trad “hot” jazz schools, rollicking blues and folk, and a new residency by noted singer-songwriter Michelle Shocked, the club’s promise has quickly been realized. “All that was missing was performance poetry”, said West Village Word curator Pietaro. “Hey, the Beats walked these quarters”.

West Village Word
February 26, 8PM and 10PM sets (see below)
Admission: $20 per set
Café Bohemia 15 Barrow Street, New York NY

-8PM: PUMA PERL & FRIENDS: This Village poet and writer has five solo collections in print, most recently, Birthdays Before and After (Beyond Baroque Books, 2019.) Her band paints musical portraits behind the words: Joff Wilson, guitar; Walter Steding, violin; Danny Ray, saxophone; Joe Sztabnik, bass; Dave Donen, drums.
-10PM: LINDSEY WILSON & THE HUMAN HEARTS: The singer-songwriter, poet, actress and guitarist is a performer steeped in story-telling, social justice and the liberation of creativity. The band includes Reggie Sylvester, drums and Michael Trotman, bass.

Review and pondering: Jazz From Hell

In the days and nights leading up to the covid-19 lock down, many of we night people were convinced that the virus and resultant urgency wou...