WBGO Blog
  • Live At The Village Vanguard 10/2/13: Ravi Coltrane Quartet

    October 2, 2013. Posted by Chris Dennison.

    Ravi Coltrane brought his new quartet to the Village Vanguard for WBGO's live broadcast from the club on Wednesday, October 2 at 8:30 p.m. Listen to this concert and review comments by hosts and audience members below. Enjoy!

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    Photo by John Rogers/johnrogersnyc.com

    Coltrane upended ears in 2012 with his Blue Note debut Spirit Fiction. Half the disc features longtime collaborators Luis Perdomo on piano, bassist Drew Gress, and drummer E.J. Strickland. On the balance, he forges a new sound with trumpeter Ralph Alessi, bassist James Genus, pianist Geri Allen, and drummer Eric Harland.

    Spirit Fiction is shot through with duality. The title track superimposes separate recordings, a nod to Ornette Coleman’s double quartets on Free Jazz in 1960. On “Roads Cross,” the quartet starts together, pairs off Coltrane with Strickland and Perdomo with Gress, then reconvenes for a climax.

    Indeed, Ornette echoes throughout Spirit Fiction, even though the altoist’s mournful keen is nothing like Coltrane’s urgent sound. The second group plays Ornette’s “Check Out Time” with dazzling interplay between Coltrane, album producer Joe Lovano and Ralph Alessi. The two tenors push each other and blend beautifully, and when Alessi’s trumpet joins the fray, they sound simply fantastic.

    After Spirit Fiction, Ravi turned a new corner. Immediately after the disc, he set out on tour with the young and tremendously talented band of David Virelles on piano, Dezron Douglas on bass, and Johnathan Blake on drums: this is the group he brings to the Vanguard on Wednesday night.

    While the new quartet has yet to release any studio recordings, their live performances reveal a fresh and exciting group, as in a November 17, 2012 performance of “Coincide” at the Jazzdor Festival in Offenburg, Germany.

    As we can hear, Coltrane develops deceptively simple melodic lines with dynamic bursts of energy. All three younger players follow this cue: Virelles establishes a great sense of space, anchored in the tune’s three-chord riff, which he patiently fills with new harmonic territory. Blake also experiments with highly dense and more spacious sections. Douglas is the group’s rocket glue: he holds everyone together, even as his bass line propels us forward.

    Wednesday’s broadcast promises to be an intense, high-powered show, in a venue known for drawing the best out of its performers. Don’t miss it.

  • The Dave King Trio Live At The Village Vanguard

    September 12, 2013. Posted by Rachel Cantrell.

    The Dave King Trio loves a good room. Since there is none finer than the 123-seat Village Vanguard, we hope you will enjoy our live broadcast of this group from the club on Wednesday, September 11 at 8:30 p.m. Click the link to hear this concert, and review the comments of listeners during the show. Enjoy!

    Photo by John Rogers for NPR/WBGO
    L-R: Carrothers, Peterson, King photo by John Rogers for NPR/WBGO

    More than a taste of High Lonesome infuses the trio’s moody renderings of jazz standards on their 2012 debut CD I’ve Been Ringing You. The disc was recorded, with a minimum of intervention, over an afternoon in a church choir loft off Highway 7 in Hopkins, Minnesota; all three musicians hail from the North Star State.

    All of this atmospheric instrospection may surprise those who know King from his day job, as the emotionally direct drummer of The Bad Plus. King’s askew, genre-defying rhythms are the Tesla coil of that trio’s paint-peeling take on jazz, which has reached the ears of a post-rock generation, earning fans along the way.

    You’ll hear none of that here. The Dave King Trio comes to play jazz, and plays it with quiet assurance. It features a mellower, almost ghostly sound from the drummer, as his ride cymbal floats above Bill Carrothers’ piano intro on Ornette Coleman’s “Lonely Woman,” or in a swinging duet with with Billy Peterson’s bass on “Some Will Say We’re In Love.”

    Yet as always with King, there are surprises: he opens Gordon Jenkins’ deep-blue classic “Goodbye” with the eerie, ethereal whine of something called a “waterphone,” then settles into a soft dialogue on wire brushes with Carrothers’ piano. These three musicians inhabit the heart of the jazz tradition, yet push expectations as they move their sound through a room.

    The trio’s residency at Village Vanguard runs through Sunday, September 15th. WBGO and NPR Music featured this live concert by the band, broadcast on air and as a video webcast, on Wednesday, September 11th at 8:30 p.m.

    Did King bring his waterphone? Tune in to find out.

  • Jimmy Cobb Live At The Village Vanguard 8/21/13

    August 20, 2013. Posted by Rachel Cantrell.

    Jimmy Cobb nestles his drums in the perfect space between sensitivity and assertiveness. Tenor saxophonist Javon Jackson joined Cobb’s trio for our live broadcast from the Village Vanguard on Wednesday, August 21 at 8:30 p.m. Review our live chat and preview of the show below.

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    This NEA Jazz Master builds up a soloist with unwavering intensity that never overpowers. Take, for example, the way he launches one of Davis’s most iconic recordings, “All Blues," from the 1959 Columbia album Kind of Blue.

    First, he lays a bed for Davis by playing his snare drum with wire brushes, while Bill Evans plays a rolling chord vamp. Then he shifts for the entrance of Davis’s trumpet solo.

    Cobb’s addition of solid hits on his ride cymbal creates a transition which is smooth yet stark, a complete change in mood. It’s subtle. It’s confident. It’s Cobb.

    This touch can be heard on many of Davis’s masterpieces, which include Sketches of Spain and Someday My Prince Will Come. But the Kind of Blue session remains a kind of touchstone for Cobb, which he honors with his “So What” touring band.

    Javon Jackson is a regular member of Cobb’s “So What” ensemble, and Cobb also plays with Jackson in a group the saxophonist leads, “We Four,” which pays homage to John Coltrane.

    Jackson is a graduate of that elite finishing school in jazz, Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. They’ll be joined at the Vanguard on Wednesday night by Japanese pianist Tadataka Unno and Italian bassist Paolo Benedettini. WBGO and NPR Music will feature this live concert by the band, broadcast on air and as a video webcast, on Wednesday, August 21st at 8:30 p.m.