Live Jazz: 5 April Standouts, From Andrew Cyrille to Linda May Han Oh

Live Jazz: 5 April Standouts, From Andrew Cyrille to Linda May Han Oh


ANDREW CYRILLE QUARTET Village Vanguard, April 1

Andrew Cyrille ended the final set of his five-night run at the Village Vanguard with a solo. But this drummer was not playing his drums. By the end of “7 for Max,” a generous and clattering original composition, Mr. Cyrille — the 76-year-old avant-garde eminence — had lost interest in his toms and snare, and was rattling off a fast roll on the stage’s carpet.

Mr. Cyrille, the electronic musician and pianist Richard Teitelbaum, the guitarist Bill Frisell and the bassist Ben Street reacted to one another intimately but never converged into a singularity. That was on purpose. Mr. Cyrille is a forceful player who drums in isolated touches and leaves plenty of sonic space, so there was room to focus elsewhere: on Mr. Frisell’s smoldering harmonies and terse melodic flow; on Mr. Street’s responsive bass playing; and on the glinting electronics and piano of Mr. Teitelbaum, each full of a distant allure and vested with the density of rainfall.

Andrew Cyrille’s most recent album, “The Declaration of Musical Independence,” released in 2016, features this quartet.

PATTY WATERS First Unitarian Congregational Society, April 5

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On April 5, Patty Waters returned to a New York City stage for the first time since 2003.

Credit
An Rong Xu for The New York Times

When Patty Waters stepped up to the altar at this church in Downtown Brooklyn, it was the first time since 2003 that she had been on any kind of stage in New York City. Before that, she had scarcely been heard from since the late 1960s. Ms. Waters glided onto the New York avant-garde in 1965, at the age of 19, startling those around her with a sylphlike voice and a haunted air. Then, within a few years, she had drifted away. It made an odd kind of sense.

Ms. Waters didn’t mention her absence at the concert, which was presented by Blank Forms. She appeared with a team of seasoned free improvisers: the pianist Burton Greene, who had played on her debut album, “Patty Waters Sings,” from 1966; the bassist Mario Pavone; and the drummer Barry Altschul.

At 20, Ms. Waters already had a frosty, atrophied sound — light and diaphanous but also low and worn. It was the voice of curdled dreams, or of a spirit exiting the body. What was that going to be like now that she was 72?

As it happens, her style hasn’t changed much, and its effect is intact. She stood onstage with her lips pulled back tightly in an excruciating wince, often repeating individual words in a breathy incantation. On “Lonely Woman,” Ornette Coleman’s famous lament, she undercut the melody’s climax — a startled, bent-ore high note — just barely grazing it before letting her voice fall away. As ever, she was keeping you stupefied, stuck in place, by pointing at a thing that never took shape.

Patty Waters’s most recent album, “Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe: Live in San Francisco 2002,” was released in 2005.

LINDA MAY HAN OH QUINTET Village Vanguard, April 21

As your perspective shifts, your focus has to adjust. As a composer and bassist, Linda May Han Oh is always trying to maintain a swift and multidirectional motion without sacrificing clarity or precision. This is a technical concern, but it seems to imply a broader idealism.

Her late set spanned six original compositions, starting with “Blue Over Gold” — built around a two-note ostinato and a studded, start-and-stop flow — and ending on the jagged “Western,” a jumble of staccato dashes and stubborn momentum, held on course by Ms. Oh’s dilated bass sound.

There was a moment, as the sunny melody and clipped cadences of “Perpluzzle” were reaching a climax, when the tenor saxophonist Ben Wendel, the guitarist Matt Stephens and the pianist Fabian Almazan all dived in together. Improvising at once, they were rampant with energy, fully alive. It was at this point — with all that careful songwriting almost undermined — that Ms. Oh’s structural mind and her firm hand were most needed, and most rewarding.

Linda May Han Oh’s latest album, “Walk Against Wind,” came out last year.

SFJAZZ COLLECTIVE Jazz Standard, April 15

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The SFJazz Collective focused on its arrangements of Miles Davis songs in its performance on April 15.

Credit
Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times

For all the woven elegance and keen synthesis of its arrangements, the reason to hear the SFJazz Collective is its soloists. This midsize ensemble has an all-star cast that tends to rotate and shift every few years. It is supported by the SFJazz Center, which commissions its members to write original pieces and arrangements of famous jazz repertory, and sends the band on tours.

Last year, the group released a disc interrogating the songbook of Miles Davis, and at Jazz Standard, it focused on those arrangements. On the trumpeter Sean Jones’s busied-up reworking of “So What,” the alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón took a solo that referred to Cannonball Adderley — the influential alto saxophonist who played on Davis’s seminal recording of that tune, from “Kind of Blue” — but stayed loyal to Mr. Zenón’s own sound. He bobbed without weaving, making small-grade rhythmic oscillations and conjuring a high intensity.

Each of the arrangements here is a feat unto itself, but even after years of working together, these bandmates haven’t fully overcome the problem of all-star ensembles: There’s a certain solitude around each musician, a lack of pooled urgency. I found myself wondering how the group would coalesce after the incursion of a drum solo. Would it let go a bit? Hit a higher level? I didn’t really find out: When the drummer Obed Calvaire finally took one, on Warren Wolf’s original “Give the Drummer Some,” it was at the very end of the night. He finished, and the set concluded.

The SFJAZZ Collective’s newest album, “Live: SFJAZZ Center 2016 — Music of Miles Davis & Original Compositions,” was released in March.



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