I’ve admired the music and musical intelligence of pianist / composer / arranger Michael Bank for nearly ten years now — in live performance and on recordings. So I was very happy to see that he had a new CD, THE DAO OF SWING — aptly named — which you can read about here.
Compact discs are lovely, but live performances are thrilling in their own right. I was delighted to learn, some weeks ago, that Michael would be bringing a septet to the Lower East Side of New York City. The generous sponsor of the brief concert was Play-Diem, a nonprofit organization that promotes art of various kinds in New York parks and bandshells. Thank you, Play-Diem! Michael was joined by Simon Wettenhall, trumpet; Noah Bless, trombone; Jay Rattman, alto; Andrew Hadro, baritone; Matt Smith, guitar; Trifon Dimitrov, bass; Kevin Dorn, drums.
Their music was and is inspiring. I hear wonderful echoes — at an idiosyncratic tilt, not copies — of Ellington and Hodges, Jaki Byard and what I would call Modernist Swing, where the rhythm is seriously rocking while unusual things take place above and around it. You can hear and see for yourself — as the band rocks against the sky with the invisible East River below.
A memorably swinging mood piece, Michael’s ALTAIR:
Talk about swinging! Here’s ROCKVILLE, a Johnny Hodges blues:
Michael’s evocative and evocatively-titled FALL AND RISE:
Jaki Byard’s accurately-named ONE NOTE:
May your happiness increase!