In reading about tenor saxophonist Ted Brown and his connections to Lennie Tristano and what is characterized as “the Tristano school,” I kept finding the words abstract, intellectual, cool.
It intrigues me to see those terms used as faint praise, as if anyone who ever had contact with Tristano was suddenly transformed into a snow creature. I didn’t hear that in Ted’s playing.
And even though I come from the world of HOTTER THAN THAT and STEAMIN’ AND BEAMIN’ (you could look those up), I heard the music that Ted and friends played on that snowy night as lyrical, song-based, not a series of chilly mathematical puzzles.
The participants that night at Sofia’s (221 West 46th Street, New York City) for these performances were Ted on tenor; Lena Bloch, tenor; Bob Arthurs, trumpet; Michael Kanan and / or Sacha Perry, piano; Murray Wall or Stephanie Greig, bass; Taro Okamoto, Hyland Harris, or Mark Wadsworth, drums.
Listen and observe for yourself!
Here’s SUBCONSCIOUS-LEE, an improvisation on WHAT IS THIS THING CALLED LOVE? — with its eminent creator, Lee Konitz, sitting at the bar, sipping his beer, listening closely to what his friends (Ted, Bob, Michael, Murray, and Taro) were creating. (Perhaps some of my more “tradition-minded” readers will find the opening chorus a little startling. Have faith: this music won’t bite you!):
DIG IT! — now there’s a title to conjure with. Ted, Michael, Murray, and Taro ride the lovely up-and-down contours of this loping line with grace and wit:
Another apt title — THE THINGS I LOVE — is a sweet saunter through romance and romanticism worthy of late-period Lester Young and his friends Jimmy Rowles, Ray Bown, and Jo Jones. These players certainly have heartfelt stories to share with us. And I thought again of Pete Malinverni’s assertion, “It’s melody, man!” Yes, it is!:
For I REMEMBER YOU, some new friends came to play: Lena on tenor (two tenors doesn’t have to mean JATP); Stephanie on bass, and Hyland on drums. Thanks for this memory!:
And the closing music honored Bird — in the same melodic, lazily intense way. First, YARDBIRD SUITE, with Ted, Lena, Stephanie, Hyland (swinging that hi-hat and brushes in the noble manner), and Sacha:
And, to close off this rewarding evening, SCRAPPLE FROM THE APPLE, featuring Ted, Murray, Michael and Sacha, and Mark. That personnel listing might seem a mistake, but watch closely. Sacha is a wondrous pianist (as is Michael) and he had played on YARDBIRD — but you can see him politely hoping that another chance to play might happen before the evening came to an end. In the most gracious way, the two pianists switch seats slightly more than halfway through the performance — true gentlemen as well as swinging improvisers!:
Abstract, intellectual, cool? Hardly!
And I hope to be watching Ted, Brad Linde, Joe Solomon, bass, and Taro create more of the same delicious music on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2011 from 9:30 to 1 AM at Tomi Jazz in New York City: 239 East 53rd Street (lower level) between Second and Third Avenues. Their phone is 646-497-1254; their website is http://www.tomijazz.com.
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