Flip and I went to see Ehud Asherie last night at Smalls, where his duet partner was the Russian-born altoist Dmitry Baevsky, someone you should know. I’ve heard Dmitry shining through Joe Cohn’s RESTLESS (Arbors), but was even more impressed by him in person. The interplay between the two musicians — they’re long-term friends — should surprise no one who’s been reading this blog. Ehud, modest about his own playing, listens deeply, thoughtfully commenting, answering, anticipating, smoothing the way.
Here’s the duo on Bud Powell’s STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL.
Dmitry is a special pleasure. Many alto players born in the last sixty or so years have fallen under the great avian enchantment of Charlie Parker. Even if they don’t adopt his familiar repertoire, they work towards his brilliant tone and great facility — which translates into rapid flurries of notes aimed at the listener. More recent altoists, perhaps falling under Coltrane’s and Ornette’s spells, have chosen to break out of bebop’s conventions — often with a harsh tone, a nearly aggressive approach to their material.
Dmitry is well aware of what has taken place in jazz, and he’s no reactionary, tied to ancient points of view. But he loves the sound of his instrument, and he enjoys its singing possibilities without falling into sticky-sweetness. In his playing, I hear the bounce of Pete Brown in some turns of phrase, the pensive quality of a Paul Desmond — but mostly I hear Dmitry, which is a wonderful thing indeed. That tone!
And both of these players know how to convey deep feeling through their instruments. Here they approach POOR BUTTERFLY with tenderness, even reverence.
Smalls is reminiscent of someone’s suburban basement or “rec room” in the Seventies — but the casual intimacy of the place inspires the musicians who play there, as you can hear. I couldn’t stay on for long after Ehud’s duet set, but he was followed by Tardo Hammer, then by Sacha Perry and Ari Roland — a cornucopia of world-class jazz for a $20 cover.