Painting On Piano

Little Black Chairs in Christ Church

Monty Alexander, playing solo piano at the Lyric Theater, introduced one of his songs, “Hurricane,” as his “painting on piano.”
Monty’s bout with pancreatic cancer seems to have slowed his manic pace a notch. He can still shift gears and quote so many songs you just wish he would milk what he brings to each one a little longer. So when he slowed things down to play a melancholy version of September Song he captivated the room and then brought the house down with “Sweet Georgia Brown.” He plays with a trio tomorrow at Kilbourn.

I have a slow meditative Steve Kuhn song in our iTunes library called “Trance” that I love. I meant to play it today before the show but it slipped my mind. Tonight he played a lot of standards. My favorite was “Stella By Starlight” Billy Drummond played drums and it was hard to take my eyes off him. He was the perfect foil/accompaniment to Kuhn’s fluid, rolling melodies. I know I have him on a few records at home.

About four songs into their first set Kendrick Scott Oracle announced that pianist Geri Allen had passed away. He had played with her as did Ornette Coleman and she played the festival here a few years back. Kendrick Scott dedicated a song to her and followed that up by playing along with a recorded montage of Obama’s speech on the black incarceration rate. Scott said he was “all about togetherness but you have to talk about it.”

Ole Mathisen Foating Points at the Lutheran Church was a four piece with sax, trumpet, piano and bass and their music was all notated. The sax player and leader even read from notes between songs. They played like a small mysterious orchestra and were very dreamy.

Vanishing Sun Band in the RGE tent were laying down a great, heavy, funk groove that could be heard a block away so we stopped in the RGE Fusion Tent for a beer but then the band dipped into fusion for some reason.

Dave O’Higgens Atlantic Bridge Quartet at Christ Church did just that. They bridged the Atlantic with an international band of proper jazz musicians. Clean cut jazz.

Mario Rom Interzone at the Little were just called Interzone last time we saw them. The Austrian band has so much youthful energy and such a love of jazz they are Infectious. Just when you think they are too young and too European to really swing they sound like Louie Armstrong in a Bourbon Street bar. And they are so very entertaining.

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