A mixture of traditional folk and free jazz isn’t what you normally indulge when going out on a freezing Monday night, but it’s what was part of this year’s Winter Jazzfest at Le Poisson Rouge on Bleecker Street. The Sam Amidon Extended and its 11-piece ensemble played music from “I See The Sign”, a monstrous work that Sam put together with multi-instrumentalist and composer Shahzad Ismaily. Marc Ribot was on guitar, Curtis Fowlkes on trombone, Ben Goldberg on clarinet, Sam Gendel on sax, Kris Bowers on keys, Richard Sears on piano (whom I met last week at the Ropeadope reception night at Nublu), Linda Oh and Shahzad on basses, and Jeremy Gustin and Andrew Cyrille on drums.
Sam Amidon’s clearly folk-influenced vocal style added more exoticism to this particular set which was very well balanced and drew upon many a Knitting Factory moment, for that matter. Opening the evening was avantgarde drummer Andrew Cyrille. Now 77 years old, it was a surprisingly and unexpectedly gentle 60-minute drum solo set which of course had its heavily percussive and repetitive moments, but altogether seemed to be a more meditative harangue.
Earlier that weekend, the main thing at Winter Jazz Fest was the Marathon which took place in about a dozen clubs south of 14th Street in the Village and where a lot of upcoming and soon-to-be-touring artists were to be discovered. Blue Note singer and pianist Kandace Springs for example, whose album “Soul Eyes” will see the light of day in Europe this spring, brought Jesse Harris on guitar, Jesse Bielenberg on bass, and Dillon Treacy on drums. The Black String Quartet had exotic instruments like the geomun-go, a traditional Korean string instrument not unlike a zither, or the daegeum, a large bamboo flute and the yanggeum, a dulcimer with metal strings. A lot of the acts were supposed to build awareness on social matters which more or less rose out of putting the programme together, and it is good to know that the electric piano in all its different shades and colors has a healthy standing these days.
Today I ended up once again at A-1 Records in the East Village for some serious crate-digging and found vinyls from Bobby Hutcherson, Sun, Sylvia St. James, and Bobbi Humphrey. More to come. This Saturday, Black Gold Records on Court Street in Brooklyn hosts its Gold Dig event across the street from their shop with thousands of LPs and a few drinks to enjoy.