Saturday, January 1, 2011

My Jazz Highlights of 2010 #5:
John Escreet (with David Binney) breaks my brain in Toronto

I heard this group over 2 days at the Rex in Toronto, where I spent the Thanksgiving holiday with Deb. I didn't know John Escreet, but wanted to hear David Binney live. He killed (as expected), but what really surprised me was Escreet and his stunning compositions, layered and knotty and dark, calling to mind folks ranging from George Crumb to Cecil Taylor. I've been studying scores from his recording Don't Fight the Inevitable (available on his website) since attending these performances, to better understand how he got a quintet to do that stuff, and I'll be pondering his music, and being thrilled by it, throughout 2011 and beyond...

My Jazz Highlights of 2010 #4:
Recording with Harder Bop & Bruce Johnstone

We've had one recording session so far, in November 2010, at the studios of the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, and I expect we'll do a couple more in the coming months. I'll have more to say about this as we get further into the project, but for now I'll just note that I never would have dreamed, as a high school saxophonist who revered Bruce Johnstone and had memorized his solos with Maynard Ferguson's band back in the '70s, that I'd ever record with him. On hearing this news, my friend Tom Stansell probably most eloquently expressed my own excitement at the prospect: "BRUCE F**KIN* JOHNSTONE?????????? That's incredible!"

Kelly Bucheger, Bruce Johnstone, Tim Clarke

My Jazz Highlights of 2010 #3:
Harder Bop plays Jazz@Unity Of Buffalo

Harder Bop is a hybrid group of some of my usual collaborators from What Would Mingus Do?, trumpeter Tim Clarke and pianist Michael McNeill, along with a couple of younger up-and-coming monsters: bassist Danny Ziemann, currently studying at Eastman, and drummer Russ Algera.

Like WWMD, Harder Bop plays my tunes. There's some overlap between the two groups in terms of personnel and even repertoire, but if I were forced to differentiate the two, I'd propose that What Would Mingus Do? is more hard-bop oriented while Harder Bop is perhaps a bit more likely to incorporate funk and free influences...

Dharma Brats
Jazz@Unity, Buffalo
October 3, 2010

Jazz@Unity Of Buffalo, a performance series created by Michael McNeill, is a welcome new jazz venue in Buffalo. I'm honored to have performed my music as part of this series, and I look forward to seeing where Michael's considerable creativity takes Jazz@Unity.

Danny Ziemann, Russ Algera, Michael McNeill, Kelly Bucheger, Tim Clarke

My Jazz Highlights of 2010 #2:
Other Side with poets David Meltzer & Michael Rothenberg, at Hallwalls

David Meltzer is one of the great Beat Generation poets, with a deep knowledge and love of jazz. In my first performance with him in November of 2009, he quickly teased out my tenor influences ("You, of course, are coming from Sonny...") within the context of a larger discussion of tenor players -- it was the kind of "insider" conversation that I'd expect to have with a very hip and well-studied saxophonist, which David isn't: he's just a very hip and well-studied poet who loves jazz. His book-length poem for Lester Young, No Eyes, beautifully evokes jazz rhythm and phrasing, and like Lester's playing it's heartbreaking sometimes and beautiful.

Other Side is my collaboration with drummer Doug Dreishpoon and a revolving cast of bassists; for this gig in September, we were joined by Danny Ziemann. Other Side is usually a very satisfying musical experience for me, and on this night the trio was clearly inspired by the poets. It was an honor working with David and Michael!