mercredi, janvier 25, 2006

Sick Wid It

The Jabene ensemble killed it last night at their global debut at the Blue Note. I took their sound in with fated MacArthur fellow and TV & Film critic Court' (Look out for her short story collection in the coming future) and had a lovely time.

It's hard to highlight one player from the extraordinary bunch. Bilal, whose music I love, and whose eccentric and unpredictable performance style all but guarantees an abundance of laughter, completely underwhelmed on vocals which is no swipe at his undeniable talent but, in my opinion, vocals were unnecessary and distracting to the compositions. In his defense, he was peripheral to the ensemble (I suspect was added to the bill for marketing purposes) and he got going near the end of Thelonious Monk's "Criss-Cross." Gregoire Maret (dude redefines the harmonica) I'd caught with Cassandra Wilson some time ago and pianist Robert Glasper (musical director for the ensemble) backed Bilal at a show I caught at the Jazz Gallery and, more recently, Sa-Ra at the Canal Room. Bassist Derrick Hodge minimalist playing was jamming (I can't say "on the one" since the time signatures varied) but he definitely got the expressionless Roy Hargrove going. I think it's interesting in experiencing/understanding/writing music to make note of one's own responses to the performance and the audiences but, if possible, musicians' peers. Roy is stoic in the smoke-a lot sense but he jumped back at some of the things Hodge was doing or rather wasn't doing on his bass solo. I want to say Roy Hargrove is Roy Hargrove since I have this immense respect for his musicianship but I honestly don't own any of his recordings and I have only seen him perform once at Metrotech for the BAM Summer R&B festival so I'm not sure how I came to that conclusion but dude is something else. His song closed out Jabane's set and stratespherically rocked Blue Note overshadowing his capable bandmates songs. Nevertheless the night belonged to two cats I had never heard of before: Benin-born guitarist Lionel Loueke and Texas drummer Chris Dave (Why does he have two first names?). If my memory serves me correct Chris backed Sa-Ra at the Canal Room as well and layed an unwavering funk along with the baby-faced bassist that kept me dancing all night long. But anyway Chris Dave is crackish (a non-perjorative variant on the Jamie Foxx coined term) on the drums. It looks and sounds extra-hominine. Seriously. It made me recommit to a long-since-abandoned goal of becoming the black Sheila E or since Cindy Blackman already did that, the brown-skinned Cindy B (There I Go!). That was until I noticed sweat trailing from underneath Dave's cap and if there is anything I'm fastidious about it's not letting my hair go back (except in the aforelinked picture when it was strictly "juices and berries." A gold star to the first one to comment "That ain't nothing but an Ultraperm!" ®). Anyway, dude was clean and far less perspirous then fellow drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts or our community's most unsure performer, Whitney Houston, but an hour and half of rapid, discordant and controlled movements will do that to you. So I realize that drumming demands endurance, coordination and a willingness to look a hot mess in public and therefore might not be the creative pursuit for me. Dave held it together, though. He was dressed much better than the other players in a multicolored sweater, ironed jeans, Bapestas and the aforementioned newsboy cap camouflaging the dripping evidence of his exertion. Despite Dave's dexterity I would have to say the star of the story was Lionel "where you been all my life" Loueke. I don't have any words for what he does and conjures (the spirit is real y'all) but it's good.

This week in music: AH tonight and LT tomorrow (Underwhelming show. I don't understand his mystique which caused the crunk-upon-it dude standing next to me trying to convert me into LT groupiesm to whisper in my hear that maybe the "electric guitars were too hard for my soft ears." Negro please!