October-3rd-2011, 01:19 PM
swing high swing higher
Lafayette Gilchrest Trio & Quintet 10/2 in NYC
First Set was:
Lafayette Gilchrist (piano) Michael Formanek (double bass) Andrew Cyrille (drums)
Second set was:
Lafayette Gilchrist (piano) Steve Swell (trombone) Darius Jones (alto sax) Michael Formanek (double bass) Andrew Cyrille (drums)
We arrive early first in line @ 7:20 with my friend Travis plus another expected friend the charming, obnoxious and somehow lovable "Big" Ronnie a big music fan who has seen a few jazz shows in his time, but nothing that would be considered free or out or avant-garde.
And I am not sure really what to expect being that I have never heard the pianist ever before but knowing he is associated with David Murray I expected a melodic player with connections to the traditions inside, outside and all around.
So we get the front row - me closest to the drum kit with the only drawback is that the piano is faced so no one except Gilchrest can see the keys.
So a very slender guy with ahuge smile comes out and introduces the band - and the music sheets seen earlier are off to the right on the horn player's stands which are obviously not in use for the first set.
introductions - the *great* Michael Formanek and the *legendary* Andrew Cyrille...mayeb I like this guy....
set starts slow with the trio finding their place, it seemed clear to me that they would be improvising for the set and it was to be - Cyrille on sticks the whole set - Formanek switching occasionally to the bow - a coupld of solos - with Cyrille fascinating me whather I was looking or not - sometimes it is hard to believe that he is playing what he is with so little movement - and with seemingly such a simple approach - and he never hit the cow bell once - and then about 35 to 40 minutes in we get Lafayette Gilchest alone - and the playing had become less sweet - toards the beginning I was feeling somehat uneasy with might be considered a bit of overly romantic stylings lacking the edge that I like in freeish pianists. Somehow the solo section focused his playing for me and the band came out of it more grooving than ever - and his left hand now seemed to be playing an related yet unrelated line and Cyrille finally solos and it is maybe a minute of total fucking genius, the band closes and a few of us roared (out of the 40 or 50 there). Strong set with an uplifting final third.
The new guy (Big Ronnie) liked it - loved seeing a drummer so close and we awaited the second set....
Darius Jones sitting in the back as we were agin in the front row save for Ronnie who is in his normal spot in life - in the back of the room spreading out if you will.
taking it a bit to the extreme was making the decision to sit in this front row - I am one sest closer the great drummer - maybe 5 feet away - and when Jones and Swell pmove the music stands they are literally 2 feet away from Travis and I - a suite is announced for a lost mentor - which would eb 4 movements - I am concerned as it sounds like 2 much - the crowd doesn't build by the time they start @ 10:15 - later Ronnie counted 16 or 18 as thwe whole crowd and 1 was the driver with Bernard Lyons - who just then learned was there - nice to meet you Sir! - so there were only a few ready to listen - the temp starts slower than mid-tempo - never my favorite and if you told me that would eb it or slower for the rest of the 1 hour performance I would have SWORN to all hell that I would nto have liked it, maybe would have hated and maybe would have wanted to leave the room. Cyrille plays it straight, the horns state the first theme which is OK but has a bit of clunkiness in it - so then the trombonist solos and it nice high energy stuff with the confines of the composition (which is what I was thinking at the time - I just want hear these 2 guys GO!!) and Darius comes in and takes his tune and again it is nice - then the theme comes back with the pianist impressing as the first movement moved on - then the horns take for me an unexpected solos with (especially Swell) backing and complimenting the primary soloist.
They take it up and OUT. Very exiting and by 20 minutes all the insane concerns I had were gone - the middle 2 movements were fine with some of the slower and softer passages exposing the brilliance of this pianist with the name of Lafayette Gilchrest - is this a prodigy who wallowed in obscurity only to be discovered a few years back by someone (the lady who this suite was written for) who introduced him to David Murray? And was this his first NYC concert? (I know they were driving home after the show and had arrived earlier in the day - no money there of course...)
then they seemed to stop unexpectedly right before 11:00 - and he introduced the 4the movement - from Ashes to Cosmos, I think earlier he said it was Ashes to Atmosphere - and then they play another bluesly slower tempo - and this time Cyrille plays it louder, Gilchrest played all of differently and then Darius Jones does his best Johnny Hodges meets Jimmy Lyons meets out of this FUCKING world - and the hear it 3 feet from my brain...wowee zowee - can I steal that line Mr. Malkmus??? - and THEN - with slide again either going to hit the floor, Travis head or knees or again the floor, Steve Swell takes the most intense trombone solo the world has yet experienced - when in the forest?!?!) and the guys to my right are goinf NUTS - and Swell shoudl ahve had a fucking heart attack - and then that ends and Gilchrest takes the most gorgeous solo of the night and Darius Jones is yelping and screamin a bit - you do NOT see this - and then it ends after the last theme and then the leader closes with an unaccompanied piece of brilliance and the small crowd is overcome and gives a standing ovation - the band is smiling - Mr. Cyrilled is beaming and Lafayette Gilchrest is very happy that a few of us heard who is is and he is clearly very happy he had those 4 great, great musicians with him for the occasion.
and Big Ronnie's musical perspective is changed forever...thanks for coming
quiet no music on the way home - maybe later today or this week - lordy lordy
very inside traditional music played my masters who simply play music - yeah a bit over the top by the horn players - but thank jah there are some willing to give it all they have as they obviously love this music and love the composer/pianist who had a rare chance to play his music with these musicians.
blood and guts, baby