Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas in New York City: a shout out to Smalls Jazz Club

It's tough to sit in the suburbs for two days while everything is closed for those who are not celebrating Christmas, and are not with their families, so every year we come into New York, stay at a hotel, see some shows, and in my case visit one of the clubs on Christmas Eve. Three years ago it was the wonderful Cedar Walton at the Vanguard, and for the last two seasons it has been Spike Wilner's wonderful Small's Jazz club, which featured John Mitchell's quartet. Great atmosphere, good crowd, and wonderful music. Who knew John could sing. It was my second visit in about a month, with the last featuring Ethan Iverson in a trio setting.

I have to say, one of the greatest things about hearing live music is the chance to really hear the bass player, who often is lost on CDs. Watching the two young bassists, David Wong with John Mitchell and Corcoran Holt with Ethan Iverson, was a joy. The big sound they get out of the instrument, the wonderful solos, seeing the intricate fingerings, for me they are what made the nights really special. No disrepect to Sacha Perry, Tardo Hammer, Jimmy Wormsworth, and the others intended.

I have some recommended recordings with David Wong that readers may want to listen to, as each is a great listen:  Roy Haynes "Roy-alty" (2011), Sashal Vasandani "Hi-Fly" (2011), and Dmitri Baevsky "Down with It" (2011) are all recent, and if you want to go back some, look for Pete Zimmer's discs. Corcoran Holt evidently is new on the scene and I am sure his fabulous sound will appear soon on many recordings. Right now, I have him in my collection on a Stan Killian disc from 2011 "Unified" and a 2010 disc of Steve Turre's called "Delicious and Delightful". I'd watch for him playing live in your town and try to catch him if I were you.

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