Sunday, February 5, 2012

Burnin' in the Bronx

The monthly jazz night at An Beal Bocht is turning into what I had hoped.  People from Riverdale and other parts of the Bronx, Westchester, upper Manhattan, and New Jersey are all coming out to check out the scene - to be in the room when something thrilling might happen.

This week Eric Alexander was there on sax, Joe Farnsworth on drums, and Phil Palombi on bass. These guys all live in Riverdale, and although they play in the best jazz clubs in NYC and tour around the world, they love playing in their own backyard.

The first song was "Speak Low."  I sat down in the back of the room to listen, but within a couple minutes I was on my feet moving toward two of my friends.  As Joe's drum solo built, the restrictions of day to day life were cut, the strings let go and snapped hard, and I stood there unmoored, connected only to that moment.  Joe is a master craftsman, he knows how to do one of the most difficult things a performer has to do, trust himself and his tools and just be there.  He was boundless.

At the end of the first set I walked up to the mic as I always do to thank the musicians, but what came out of my mouth was what everyone was thinking "Does anyone on earth play the drums like Joe Farnsworth?"  We all knew we had witnessed something exceptional.
Eric Alexander is a true leader in every sense. What comes through when he is on stage is the man behind the horn, if you will, we feel his strength, his focus, his ease. He gathers the other musicians and the audience together and we sit back, relax and know we are in the hands of someone extraordinary.  He played a stunning rendition of "Misty."

Phil Palombi, a Grammy Award winning bassist, recently joined the gig bringing us his warm sound and impressive solos.

They ended the night with a soulful, killer improvisation as Joe lead a young guitarist who came to sit in through every possible form of the blues. Check it out on youtube.

Joe Farnsworth - Linda's Jazz Nights - February 1, 2012
Photo by Luis Pons

Friday, January 6, 2012

It was freezing outside on Wednesday night, but the bar was packed.  Joe Farnsworth, our band leader, on drums, Mike DiRubbo on sax, and Phil Palombi on bass gave us an eclectic night of music.  True to the definition of jazz they delivered an evening full of complex intricate rhythms, great ensemble playing, and virtuosic solos.  

Friday, December 23, 2011

Live Music in NYC

Wed, Nov. 30th - Went to B Flat in Tribeca and heard Akiko Tsuruga on the organ.  Jordan Young was there on the drums and he was schooling me on different styles of drumming. I know what I like, but don't always know why. In the world of dirty and clean drummers, he's dirty, and I like it.
Heard Tony Hewitt sing at Zeb's Vocal Jazz Series. Love him. He said he might stop by An Beal Bocht again on Dec. 7th.

Friday, Nov. 25th - I went down to Smoke for the second set. My friend Eric Alexander killed it with that mournful, fervent, powerhouse, put-me-on-my-knees sound of his on Monk's "Ask Me Now."

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Up Jumped Spring

Last Wednesday, Nov. 2nd, Mike DiRubbo was on sax, Joe Farnsworth on drums, and John Webber on bass at An Beal Bocht Cafe.  Joe just returned from literally circling the globe on tour with McCoy Tyner, and he brought us back a beautiful original piece...

They opened the second set with a swinging, soulful "I remember you."   John Webber played a solo that was utterly mesmerizing.  Tony Hewitt showed up and kicked it up with "Up Jumped Spring", click here to see it.  He then delivered a sensual "Body and Soul."  I stood in the back of the bar infused with energy from these extraordinary musicians.  They never cease to bring it -- their great love for the music and their ability to throw themselves headlong into the moment and see what's there.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Alive in the Bronx

A friend of mine came to the gig on Wednesday night and said she had to take off before it was over, get home, lots to do...  The second set ended, she was still sitting there, and she said to me, "I just didn't want to leave."  I said, "I know."  There's something about these guys, when they're playing, doing their thing, living it, up on stage, you can't walk away.

They opened the show with "Willow Weep for Me."  I haven't heard it in a while and I loved it.  Eric Alexander's sax, strident, unforgiving, pushed into the sadness, gave into it, ripped it out, told us how it is, and kept moving. They played a swinging, sultry "Misty," and a new piece Joe Farnsworth (on drums) wrote on his recent trip to Japan titled "Recover," a duet for himself and Eric -- restrained and reverent.

Rale Micic, Serbian jazz guitarist, showed up and sat in on "Sugar."  It was cookin'.  Click below.

Eric and John Webber (on bass) played "You Don't Know What Love Is," moving and lyrical.  They ended the night with "Parker's Mood," a big bluesy stunner.  Eric's colossal sound and major skill burned it up.  Click here.  It was some serious fun.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Last Night of Summer

Wednesday night Eric Alexander, Joe Farnsworth, and John Webber took the stage and opened their set with a driving piece they call "Bronx Jazz Session Blues," born out of the last year and a half of doing gigs up here in our neighborhood. This was our second gig at An Beal Bocht Cafe and we are so pleased to be there. The acoustics are brilliant.

On "They Say Falling in Love is Wonderful" Eric's sax started with that big, rich sound of his and then he artfully threaded himself through the song -- sweet and seductive. Joe gave us one of his eclectic, precise, dazzling solos on "The Song is You." (See the video below.) John played a solo piece, filling the room with his voice, vibrations, tones, moans, murmurs, and hums -- an entire band in his hands.

I loved their rendition of Bluebird, with penetrating, irresistible swing. Click here to hear it.  These guys are dedicated, masterful, and love to play.  Their individual decades of experience, along with their intimate knowledge of each other's musicianship, makes this trio incredibly tight, but also free to move to unexpected heights.

They closed the night with a ripping "A Night in Tunisia." The guys will be back at An Beal Bocht Cafe on Wednesday, Oct. 5th.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Join me Wednesday, September 7, for a night of live jazz at An Beal Bocht Cafe.
Eric Alexander on sax
Joe Farnsworth on drums
John Webber on bass

Joe Farnsworth and John Webber spent early August at the Orsara Musica Jazz Festival in Italy.
Click here to hear one of Joe’s killer solos.