Sunday, April 9, 2023

Performance review: Studio Rivbea Revisited

The NYC Jazz Record, JOHN PIETARO / NY@Night Column, February 2023

Studio Rivbea Revisited

We Free Strings and Ensemble Rivbea Revisited

Jan 8, 2023, Gene Frankel Theatre, NYC

 Studio Rivbea, founded by Sam Rivers in the Loft Jazz days, remains the stuff of legend. Arts for Art celebrated it over a five-day period, capturing the revolutionary brilliance still ruminating within 24 Bond Street. Creative spirits never die, surely not within current occupant, the Gene Frankel Theatre which played host to this fest (January 8), in particular day five’s overflowing gifts. Violist Melanie Dyer’s We Free Strings harbors the raw radicalism, cultural pride, and multi-media plausibility that filled the Lofts. Dyer’s group swings, burns, sizzles and swoons through the composed and the improvised (and the seemingly composed but improvised) as heard on its latest album. But this concert, a thrilling preview of her “Rebecca”, added Dyer’s rich prose, spoken word, film and photography to the mix. Dedicated to her 90-year-old aunt, the work explored heritage, lineage, the larger family, the self. “A few poems the love of my youth never read in a coat pocket full of tacit apologies, acts of hubris, lint”. The literature stood as vitally as the music, however Charlie Burnham and Gwen Laster (violins), Alex Waterman (cello), Rahsaan Carter (bass), Newman Taylor Baker (percussion), and Dyer herself simply transcended. And then Ensemble Rivbea Revisited, comprised of Loft Jazz vets (William Parker, Juma Sultan, Joe Daley, Daniel Carter, Ted Daniel,) and younger musicians (Ingrid Laubrock, Brandon Lopez), played a transporting improvised set. And a special closer had Parker offering invaluable tutelage on Rivbea and its day as well as the everlasting lesson of both.


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