The guy on the left is one of our Jazz Fest buddies. We compare notes, sit with each other and he gave us a Duke Ellington quarter the other day. First black man and/or musician on a US coin. About time. Hal is giving one of the coins to the European performers at the Fest and we caught him passing them out to Jonas Kullhammer as we filed into the Xerox Auditorium.
The Jonas Kullhammar Quartet have been together for eleven years. They sound sound that way but they also sound fresh. Jonas jokes with the crowd between songs about looking for a wife in “Beautiful Rochester”. That charm obviously works for him and it may just open doors to their dense, wild, swinging, musically rich music. All four are tremendous players and fun to watch. Our favorite tune of the night was written by the bass player about a former girlfriend. I plan to request that one tonight when we hear them at the Lutheran Church. I’m happy to say I survived this appearance by the band. When they were here five years ago I lost it.
Peggi led the way as we ran from the Xerox Auditorium in order to catch Soren Kjaergaards Optics at the Lutheran Church. The piano player looks like our nephew, Caleb, will in another ten years and we saw him last year in our favorite act of the year, Blake TarTar. He is a delicate and delightful piano player. The great Andrew Cyrille was on drums and contributed the perfect accompaniment to these abstract and beautiful pieces.
We caught a bit of Stephane Wrembel Trio on the free street stage. I dug the guys unusual drum set up. World music drums that he mostly played with brushes. The bass payer looked like a young Bob Dylan. The band is from France and is not a trio. There was another guitar player out of range of my camera. They sounded like they have played their gypsy jazz music a million times.
We stood outside Christ Church for a while because the Neil Cowley Trio had filled the place. While waiting one of the volunteer workers told us that there was plenty of room over at Max’s because people were leaving in droves after each song. She described their music as “very contemporary”, the way some people describe abstract art that hate. We took this as a good review and made a mental note to check them out. Neil Cowley Trio are pegged as the British Bad Plus and that sort of works. The Bad Plus, though, are more rambunctious and unpredictable.
Jon Ballantyne Trio was abstract. No bass player in a trio will clear the air. Jon Ballantyne played the inside of the piano as well as the keys and the drummer bowed a metal percussion instrument while the bass clarinet explored the wide range of this long instrument. It was the perfect way to end the night.
Click on the 2009 Jazz Pass here to see more photos.