"Real improvisation comes only when we are unconcerned with what we play, so - if we want to improvise in the best, truest manner in public - we should give ourselves over freely to what comes to mind." - Ludwig Van Beethoven
I got to hear a lot of Beethoven this week - two concerts at Carnegie Hall. The first performed by Richard Goode, who played three of the late sonatas and then this afternoon by Maurizio Pollini who played four middle sonatas. The quote above came from the program notes and struck me as incredibly poignant. For one thing, it's so close to how we think as jazz artists - to give ourselves over to "what comes to mind". It also makes me realize how the great classical composers were so much more like jazz musicians than "classical" ones. Beethoven, like Charlie Parker gave himself freely over to his mind. He let what may come, come. Also, I love Carnegie Hall and that stately atmosphere. In a lot of ways it reminds me of Smalls - a place to listen to great music, a place of sympathetic minds convening to participate in beautiful art. One great artist can unify an entire audience, electrify the crowd and then elevate them. I see this happen night after night in our club. We are a family of dedicated jazz musicians who want to "improvise in the best, truest manner in public". I think Ludwig would have dug Smalls - he could have sat in the back by himself, had a beer and listened and absorbed.
This week at Smalls:
Monday night we start our week with a solo guitar performance from master guitarist Gene Bertoncini. Gene is a gentleman guitarist, soft spoken and with a lovely solo guitar concept. Following Gene is our resident Ari Hoenig and his trio with Shai Maestro on piano and Johannes Weidenmuller on bass. Our afterhours show features a young tenor player who is just making his name known - Ben Solomon. Ben's already been working with Wallace Roney and plays an astonishing amount of tenor. With him is Davis Whitfield on piano, Rashaan Carter on bass and Kush Abady on drums. They'll be hosting as jam session so come out with your horn and sit in.
Tuesday night is our usual program - Spike Wilner's trio (that's me) with Yotam Silberstein on guitar and Paul Gill on bass. At 10 PM is the Smalls Legacy Band which always features the incredible Frank Lacy on trombone, Josh Evans on trumpet, Theo Hill on piano and Stacy Dillard on tenor. After hours is the young Kyle Poole and the "next generation" jam session. Come out and see the who's who of the future.
On Wednesday we are bringing in the great guitarist Ed Cherry and his trio which features Corcoran Holt on bass and Chris Beck on drums. Following Ed for our "Round Midnight" concert is alto saxophist Ben Drazenand his trio with the amazing Brian Charette on organ and Darrell Green on drums.
This Thursday night we are showcasing on of my favorite musicians to come along in awhile - Melissa Aldana. Melissa is a tenor saxophonist with a lyrical style and a modern thought process. Her "Crash Trio" features Pablo Maneres on bass and Francisco Mela on drums. This is sure to be an engaging and fascinating concert. Following Melissa for the "Round Midnight" concert is pianist Emmet Cohen. Emmet is a hotshot young pianist that has a lot of people talking (and a really nice guy). He'll be hosting our afterhours jam session.
For the weekend we start on Friday (7:30 PM to 10PM) with the great Tardo Hammer on piano and his trio with Lee Hudson on bass and Jimmy Wormworth on drums. Tardo is a elegant and tasteful pianist in the true New York be-bop tradition. Please come check him out. Our early show on Saturday is trumpetist Richie Vitale and his quintet with Frank Basile on baritone, Nial Djuliarso on piano, Paul Gill on bass and Clifford Barbaro on drums.
Our main show for both Friday and Saturday night is the drummer Winard Harper and his group "Jeli Posse" which features a lot of great young players. In the role of Blakey who sheparded a huge number of young players, "Jeli Posse" features Jon Beshay on tenor, Roy Assaf on piano, Noah Jackson on bass and Josh Evans on trumpet. Our afterhours show on Saturday night is led by trumpetist Philip Harper. I'm not sure when the last time both brothers have led groups back to back at the same club - this may be the first time and should be very interesting. Also, please check out Philip's interview on our SmallsLIVE interview blog this week. CLICK HERE
This Sunday is Mother's day and we have a special classical music "salon" featured for a 5pm concert. This is a historic first time that we have classical music at the club. We will be offering a glass of champagne for each person entering and a rose for each mother in the house - so, go get mom and come check out Carlos Avila, Rebekah Durham & Amy Kang play Schubert and other classics. Please be sure to stick around after that for the wonderful Ehud Asherie and his trio and then at 10:00 PM the amazing and wonderful Johnny O'Neal.
We may not have as many seats as Carnegie but we have the heart and the talent. Come share it with us and experience Smalls Jazz Club.
The New York City Jazz Record on Dezron Douglas: Live at Smalls:
â€œthe young Douglas has assembled a crackerjack band that snaps and pops in all its individual parts but never loses sight of an ensemble ethicâ€¦ everyoneâ€™s contributions seem so beautifully balanced. This is how a working band should operate, as a band of equals and attuned listeners, all of whom have the technique to realize what their hearts dictate.â€ - Laurel Gross
FREE LIVE VIDEO WEDNESDAY, May 8th
6:00 PM to close
Go to www.smallsjazzclub.com and click "LIVE VIDEO" - please enjoy our live video show. We hope you consider becoming a subscribing member
Catch all our shows on our LIVE STREAM. Become a SmallsLIVE Member and watch our shows from your home computer or mobile device. Also, sign up for the free use of our Audio Archive, nearly 6 years of recorded material, artist bios and information. All at www.smallsjazzclub.com