Subway Series: New York

28th St. station, 6 train (green line)Yes, another subway picture. My short travel spree has brought me to New York. Electrical work on the E and V lines messed up my subway strategy, but I still managed to catch two shows on what’s probably my only free night.

At the Jazz Standard, I saw Go Home, the Ben Goldberg (clarinet) quartet with Charlie Hunter (guitar) and Scott Amendola (drums). Ron Miles on trumpet rounded out the band when I saw them early this year, but for these NYC shows they substituted Curtis Fowlkes on trombone.

Great stuff, as before (and now they’ve got the official CD release, on Goldberg’s BAG Production label, to show for it). It was great to see Fowlkes for the first time, but Ron Miles, who was closer to the material, played with more of a spark. Hunter really stole the show this time, spinning some tasty blues/funk lines to go with Goldberg’s complex melodies.

All four guys clearly had fun, Hunter and Amendola in particular. They would maintain eye contact while anchoring the rhythm during horn solos, both grinning devilishly and responding to each other’s cool tricks, almost daring each other to come up with new ideas.

You can get a decent BBQ dinner at the Jazz Standard, too (the Blue Smoke BBQ place is just upstairs). The pulled pork was probably going to be too much for me, so the server talked me into getting the brisket, which wasn’t on the menu. Good stuff, if you’re a meat-eater. (They also have a veggie burger with a “tomato aioli,” which I think is means ketchup.)

After catching the second inning of Game 4 through the window of a restaurant, I worked my way down to the Lower East Side and The Stone.

At least once per month, The Stone throws a rent party, a concert where the proceeds go towards keeping the place up and running amid gentrification. Tonight was one of those, but the marquee players listed on the calendar (John Zorn, Okkyung Lee, Harris Eisenstadt) weren’t present for the 10:00 p.m. set.

Instead, it was a trio of young musicians. Travis Just on computer electronics and saxophone, Kevin Farrell (formerly of Santa Rosa) on electric bass, and Kara Feely (I think) on vocals. Just and Feely work together in Object Collection.

They tried to make it less of a show and more of a community experience, chatting up the 15 or so people who were there and finding out where everyone was from. Just warned us that he was in a loud mood, and the first long improvisation was just that: big blasts of roaring electronics and massively distorted bass splatterings.  Feely contributed spoken text, reading from a U.S. history book in a rapid-fire monotone, like a 21st century chant, occasionally holding one syllable like a sung note. It was a nice surreal touch.

That was followed by “Lush Life,” where Just on sax and Farrell on less distorted bass played in spare, raspy bursts of improv while Feely sang the actual song, delivering a line or two then pausing to let the music continue. During this, she unwrapped several mystery objects that had been sitting on a table all this time, covered in duct tape.  They turned out to be random household items. Two were rocks; the sphere turned out to be a tennis ball.

I seem to always be in NYC for more “mainstream” nights at The Stone, so it was good to see something out-there performed by musicians I wasn’t familiar with.

Had I stayed through the weekend, I could have seen Vijay Iyer, Jessica Pavone, the Nublu Jazz Festival … and I’d be broke and exhausted. Maybe it’s better to be home.

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