I don’t know when and where I first encountered the superb saxophonist Lena Bloch: perhaps she sat in at one of the Michael Kanan – Ted Brown – Joel Press gigs at Sofia’s? and I recall her joining Brad Linde on the stand — happily! However, she impressed me there as someone with a gentle lyricism and a pulsing inventiveness. And Lena surrounds herself with equally surprising players who aren’t as well known as their music would deserve. So I humbly suggest you take note of Lena’s two gigs at the end of this month and the start of the next. You’ll go out into the winter night feeling warmed by the music she and her friends create.
Lena’s not the only reason to don your scarf (if this unpredictable weather requires it): another is pianist Vladimir Shafranov, who lived and worked in New York City more than a decade ago — with associations with George Coleman, Clifford Jordan, Dizzy Gillespie, Al Foster, George Mraz, Cecil McBee, Idris Muhammad, and many others. The January 2012 HOT HOUSE describes him as “sinfully underrated.”
Here are two examples of Vladimir, improvising on familiar material: Watch him dance through HOW ABOUT YOU?
and a lyrical but harmonically deep WARM VALLEY:
Lena, Vladimir, and the fine bassist Putter Smith will be performing at Smalls Jazz Club on Monday, January 30, Monday, at 7 pm. And on Thursday, February 2, they will be at the Kitano Hotel (joined by drummer Mark Ferber) at 8 and 10 PM. Smalls has a music charge of $20 — for which one can stay all night, and the Kitano requires a $15 minimum spent on beverages or food. Reservations are strongly suggested at the Kitano, so call 212 885 7119 ti assure yourself a space.
And if the name Lena Bloch is new to you, you might want to listen to this, where she and pianist Evgeny Svitsov make winding paths through EVERYTHING HAPPENS TO ME (recorded in May 2011):
She’s a special player, and she attracts others who think and feel deeply.