Friday May 01, 2015
*PHRONESIS AND TENOR TITANS ARCHIE SHEPP AND JOE LOVANO FIRE UP CHELTENHAM *
By: Jon Newey
Fellow tenor titan Joe Lovano (above) deployed an alternative form of soul searching with his new Village Rhythms Band, as he explored the power of Afro-centric modal funk in uncompromising style. His burnished golden tenor tone seems to have deepened as his imperious yet richly soulful improvisations rippled out across the unctuous grooves of his band. Guitarist Liberty Ellman responded with taught lines rebounding between downtown New York and African high life, while drummer Otis Brown III and UK bassist Michael Olatuja laid down the deep-funk law. Yet it was Senegalese percussionist Abdou Mboup who made the most telling contribution as he stepped up with his talking drum to trade rhythmic blows with Lovano in the ultimate Afro-American dialogue. Things didn’t go quite so smoothly at Lee Konitz and Dave Douglas’ quintet meeting at the Town Hall, on an underehearsed and rambling set that was only saved by the sublime bass work of Linda Oh, who excelled with utterly sympathetic accompaniment or elegant solos that, along with Douglas’ strong playing, helped corral this gig into some kind of shape. Konitz was in extremely good humour and played with statesmanlike authority, yet frequently interrupted other solos with extended scat singing that only served to undermine any sense of momentum.
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