Winter Jazzfest – Day 1

Hit the first installment of Winter Jazzfest last night.  Spent most of the evening in a very packed Kenny’s Castaways after beginning the evening with Secret Society at (Le) Poisson Rouge.  I was glad that the LPR had restrained themselves from over-amplifying the band.  They played 4 songs including a new song featuring Erica Von Kleist which was  inspired by controversial contractor Erik Prince the head of Blackwater.

Afterwards, I headed across the street to check out the Search and Restore curated evening at Kenny Castaways to see Briggan Krauss’s Trio Coordinate with Skulli Sverrison and Kenny Wolleson perform a 40 minute free improvisation.

Matt Wilson’s Quartet swung heavy balls.  Playing various styles from the Eastern influenced Raga to a swinging Two Bass Hit featuring a great solo by Wilson.   Wilson finished the set with “School Boy Thug” while wearing a wig and leopard print half-shirt.  Both Jeffrey Lederer  and Kirk Knuffke sounded amazing, marking my calendar to check out one of their gigs in the future.

At this point Kenny’s is completely packed and I am starting to get nervous that the balcony above me is going to come down and I will be crushed in a tragic jazz death.

Bobby Previte’s New Bump Quartet played some slinky grooves and ended there set with Brutal that featured an array of guests including Matt Wilson, Jeff Lederer, Kirk Knuffke, and Nir Felder.

Mark Guiliana’s Beat Music found some new fans last night.   Some of the biggest applause was for Mark’s well placed fills during the big beat slow jam “Jersey Ballad”.  Guest vocalist Jeff Taylor joined the group for “Thing” and vocally manipulated the announcements of the 1994 Knick’s Eastern Conference Champion Starting Line-up over the band’s ambient beats.

I couldn’t make it to the end of the evening.  I managed to stay for Whoopie Pie and at this point the crowd had mutated from a surprisingly respectful quiet audience (especially given the difficulty of some of the music) into clusters of chatter.  However, Saft, Pride, and McHenry brought enough noise to drown out the conversation.  During a particularly sludgey-groove a drunk couple nearby ironically debated whether the band was on drugs.

Overall I was impressed with the number of “kids” who showed up for the night.  It wasn’t the usual aging jazz crowd that some of the “jazz is dead” debaters have been predicting as the final nail in the coffin for the music.  Hopefully the publicity around this festival (including some posts on the very influential Brooklynvegan) brought in some new fans who will try and check out more of these shows around the city.


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