Happy December! I managed to have one Jazz Night Out in the midst of Thanksgiving week when I saw some of the Brothers Drake appearance of Ishmael Ali’s Zebec on Wednesday, November 26th. The bar was packed with a large crowd, a mix of Ali’s family and friends for his homecoming as well as locals happy to start celebrating the holiday. Ali’s tunes were often on the quieter side, exploring elements of free jazz and open group improvisations, but then sometimes hitting a more traditional and soulful groove. “Hard to Love” summed up many of these components, easing into a sound reminiscent of a car chase soundtrack featuring strong solos from tenor saxophonist Billy Wolfe and trombonist David Fletcher, before ascending to a freer climax with Wolfe wailing away. “Bill Murray Wears A Size 17” was led by Wolfe’s strolling clarinet and bolstered by Mike Humpherys’ forceful bass. Zebec brought nuanced modern jazz to a large holiday crowd.
Shows To See This Week
Friday, December 5th: Elephant Wrecking Ball & ALCON at Scarlet & Grey Cafe, 2203 N. High Street. This north campus bar has hosted music of all styles in its decade-plus of existence, and has recently been successful with its weekly free Weird Wednesdays shows that bring out the breadth of bands that can fall under the “jamband” umbrella, including acts with jazz and soul leanings. In a similar jammy, jazzy vein is Friday night’s pairing. Brooklyn-based EWB, with recent studio and live releases on stalwart Ropeadope Records, is a trio that features the often effect-laden trombone of Scott Flynn over the powerhouse rhythm section of bassist Dan Africano (Zongo Junction, among others) and drummer Neal Evans (Dopapod (not Soulive’s organist)). The result is an atmospheric dub-tinged sound with many peaks and valleys. Opening is local trio ALCON. Led by guitarist/vocalist John Liberatore, who is joined by bassist Eric Haynesworth and all-star drummer Justin Campbell, the group plays mostly instrumental originals that lean toward rock but are shaped and stretched by jazz conventions.
Saturday, December 6th: Huntertones at Dicks Den. The powerhouse formerly known as DW6 (or Dan White Sextet) returns home for the first time under its new name. Now based in Brooklyn, the sextet has been playing bigger and bigger shows in increasing its foothold in NYC. This show will be the end of a five-day run of shows, and what better place to wrap up than the site of DW6’s first show? For this performance, the band will feature Dan White on saxophones, Jon Lampley on trumpet/sousaphone, Chris Ott on trombone/beatbox, Josh Hill on guitar, Jeff Bass on bass, and John Hubbell on drums. Get there early, this should fill up quick.
Sunday, December 7th (12pm – 2pm): Shindig at Natalie’s. Jazz acts will be featured on every Sunday brunch in December at Natalie’s, and this festively-named duo will kickoff the month in style. Shindig is a new project matching the clarinet, soprano sax and vocal talents of Nancy Gamso with the skilled guitar of Brett Burleson. The pair will perform tunes that “explore early swing and New Orleans style jazz from its southern roots,” which should team with the brunch menu to provide a strong start to your Sunday.
Here are a few new Huntertones videos to get you ready for Saturday. Have a great week!