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REVIEW: Pharoah Sanders @ PDX Jazz Fest (Portland, OR – 2/28/10)

1st Mar 10 (Mon) 4 comments

So, Pharoah Sanders is a legend.  He’s played with jazz great John Coltrane, and his tenor sax work has eclipsed those around him.  Free-jazzmaster Ornette Coleman referred to Pharoah as “probably the best tenor player in the world.”  He has a large swath of albums over the past 5 decades.  Passing up an afternoon concert at this year’s Portland Jazz Fest wasn’t an option. :)

I was just at the Newmark Theatre the night prior for the smokin’ Dave Holland Quintet show.  My seat for Pharoah was is almost the exact same spot (L12 versus L11).  I got a good spot right in the middle to check out Pharoah’s band: William Henderson on piano, Hans Glawischnig on bass, and Justin Faulkner on drums.  After a short introduction, the band hit the stage – Pharoah in a bright purple shirt…

The feel of the show was all over the place.  When Pharoah first started, it was quite remarkable.  He doesn’t play in straight lines, but your mind tends to connect those lines right as his sax is connecting them for you.  He seemed very much like a songbird who was free to sing what he wanted – but still very melodic.  He was very much like a bridge between John Coltrane and the more free-jazz Ornette Coleman.

They started off the show with a 25+ minute “My Favorite Things.”  Most of the rest of the 2+ hour show was the power trio of piano/bass/drums playing with Pharoah walking on and off stage and jumping in where he saw fit.  His long disappearances were interesting, but a 70 year old jazz legend can do whatever he wants. :)  On three of the songs, Portland (now New Orleans) saxophonist Devon Phillips came up and joined the band.

They played 6 or 7 tunes, and ended the show with an encore of “Save Our Children,” sung by Pharoah.  2 hours in total… utterly brilliant work from this master and his great band.

For photos from this and other PDX Jazz shows, check out PDX Jazz’s flickr stream:

(photos by Fran Kaufman)

The Appropriate Linkage:

~Dan – np: David Bazan – Curse Your Branches

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REVIEW: Dave Holland @ PDX Jazz (Portland, OR – 2/27/10)

28th Feb 10 (Sun) 5 comments

I got into Dave Holland around the same time as a lot of other jazz.  I got into jazz through the backdoor (John Zorn) and then slowly moved into the more straight ahead jazz.  I think I can officially blame Ken Laster and his In the Groove, Jazz and Beyond podcast for playing a lot of Dave Holland.  Anyway, shortly after hearing Holland, I picked up Extended Play: Live at Birdland and Critical Mass.  Both are great, but the latter is quite fetching.  When I found out he was one of the headliners at this year’s Portland Jazz Fest, I was stoked.

I was equally stoked that he’d be bringing saxophonist Chris Potter and drummer Nate Smith with him.  I saw Chris & Nate play in Cincinnati a few years back, and I loved both of them but was quite entranced with Nate’s drumming.  His flow and style are a sight to behold.

Well, on to the show…

I missed PDX Jazz Fest last year.  I was deeply entrenched in busy season at work (I’m a CPA), and perhaps there wasn’t as big of a draw in 2009 as in 2008 (SF Jazz Collective and Ornette Coleman).  2010, well, that’s another story… as I ended up staying the night to catch two shows on Sunday, too (check back for the Pharoah Sanders and Dave Douglas’ Brass Ecstasy reviews on Monday).  Anyway, no cameras allowed.  I took a couple with my iPhone, but they didn’t come out all that well; so, yeah, I’m not posting them.

The band went on around 7:40pm after a short introduction.  The band was Dave Holland on upright bass, the aforementioned Chris Potter (sax) and Nate Smith (drums), along with Alex Sipiagin on trumpet and Steve Nelson on vibes.  The first thing I noted was how Dave’s bass really breathed.  There’s a reason why he’s a heavyweight in the jazz world.  His tone, his swing, his lyricism – all very prevalent.

They started off with “Step To It,” which started with Nate Smith drumming barehanded and featured a massive Chris Potter solo, and was capped off with a great gentle back and forth between Dave and Nate.  Here’s how it all went down last night…

Setlist: 95 minutes

  • Step To It
  • Last Minute Men
  • Looking Up
  • Cosmosis
  • Make Believe
  • Free For All
  • Encore: Easy Did It

“Cosmosis” and the encore “Easy Did It” both featured great Dave Holland solos.  On “Free For All,” Nate Smith drum solo was quite playful.  He was going all out, and actually lost one of his drumsticks amidst his free for all.  I haven’t mentioned Alex or Steve yet… both were great, but didn’t seem to take as many solos as Chris or Nate.  Alex’s few solos were superb.  I love some good trumpet music (hence my Sunday plans for Dave Douglas).  Steve’s vibe work was great, moreso as a back-up for the band (his solos didn’t do much for me).  I think as far as a quintet goes, I’d opt for piano over vibes (especially with an already powerful drummer on the stage).

All in all, Dave Holland reaffirmed his place with me as a force to reckon with.  They played over an hour and half, and it seemed like it was about 20 minutes.  It totally flew by and was highly energetic.  I hope he brings this band around sometime soon!

For photos from this and other PDX Jazz shows, check out PDX Jazz’s flickr stream:


(photos by Fran Kaufman)

Well, off to the next show, Damien Jurado across town at the Mississippi Studios

The Appropriate Linkage:

~Dan – np: Dave Douglas’ Brass Ecstasy – Spirit Moves

REVIEW: David Cross @ Newmark Theatre (Portland, OR – 9/25/09)

26th Sep 09 (Sat) 5 comments

David Cross is on a little fall tour to promote his new book, I Drink For a Reason.  You may know him from Mr Show with Bob & David, or as Tobias Fünke on Arrested Development (i.e.- the best television show of all-time), or his stand-up specials, or a glut of parts in television and movies.

(David Cross as Tobias Fünke was one of the best character pieces with laugh-out-loud antics in about every moment he was on screen).

I was just at the Newmark for another comedian, Patton Oswalt.  Unlike the Patton show, though, this show wasn’t general admission.  Yay!  We got to our seats ( fairly close up).  The show began not too long after.

The opener was Todd Glass.  He only did about 15 minutes, but was pretty damn funny.  He jumped around a lot in material, but I guess with only 15 minutes, you have to get as much in as possible.

David came out around 8:45pm and started off with a song about tearing Portland a new asshole that morphed into the jokes he was going to tell us, which wouldn’t involve any cosmonaut jokes… which, of course, ended with a cosmonaut joke.

David, of course, touched on religion, politics, and drugs.  My favorite bits were scattered all about.  His mom making yogurt… from yogurt was pretty funny.  The bit on the horror porn was hilarious.  He did make a good point – what’s the reason for horror porn?  To scare the cum out of you?

One of the better parts of the night was when he called out a sign language guy for signing words that didn’t exist.  The “deaf guy interloper” was part of the show, a friend of David’s; however at first, the audience didn’t know.  When David said “Gallileo,” the guy signed the motions for looking through a looking glass.  It looked so odd that David said it again about 3 times… then David started saying words like “ridonkulous” to see what the sign language would be.  It all ended with David calling him out and telling him to leave (“deaf guy” showed up later as a “live blogger interloper” during the set).

The bit about Scientology and Mormonism was also pretty funny.  We’ll see how that goes next week in Salt Lake City. :)  Some of his other humor was a little bit over the line (re: hassidic jews, etc), but that’s what you get with David Cross.  He ended with a joke on crazy things to buy (i.e.- SkyMall crap).  The  focus on the “time mug” was pretty hilarious.

After 90 quality minutes David left the stage… but then came back out shortly for a quick movie encore… he played 3 and a half minutes (all that was legally allowed) of his upcoming UK television series directed by Spike Jonze, The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret.  It looks pretty damn brilliant.  Anytime you have Spike Jonze involved, it’s got good potential.  Arrested Development alum Will Arnett was also in it.  We’ll likely not get it on this sided of the pond, until it hits DVD.

The Appropriate Linkage:

~Dan – np: Faith No More The Real Thing

David Cross’s Tour Dates

September 2009
24 & 25
– Portland, Ore. @ The Newmark Theatre
27
– Vancouver, B.C. @ Vancouver Comedy Festival
28
– Salt Lake City, Utah @ In The Venue
29
– Denver, Colo. @ Paramount Theatre
30
– Kansas City, Mo. @ Midland Theatre

October 2009
2 – Toronto, Ontario @ Queen Elizabeth Theatre
3 – Milwaukee, Wisc. @ Riverside Theatre
4 – Chicago, Ill. @ Congress Theatre
5 – Minneapolis, Minn. @ State Theatre
7 – Durham, N.C. @ Carolina Theatre of Durham
9 – Munhall, Pa. @ Carnegie Music Hall of Homestead
10 – Morgantown, W.V. @ University of West Virginia
11 – Columbus, Ohio @ Capitol Theatre
13 – Ann Arbor, Mich. @ Michigan Theatre
14 – Austin, Texas @ Paramount Theater
16 – Dallas, Texas @ Lakewood Theater
17 – Atlanta, Ga. @ Tabernacle
19 – Boston, Mass. @ Wilbur Theater
20 – Philadelphia, Pa. @ Merriam Theater
21 – Washington, D.C. @ Warner Theater

REVIEW: Patton Oswalt @ Newmark Theatre (Portland, OR – 9/13/09)

14th Sep 09 (Mon) 2 comments

OK, so you may have heard of Patton Oswalt from Pixar’s Ratatouille.  He was the leading… um… rat.  You may also know him from the newly hitting the cinemas flick called Big Fan, and well… tons of other stuff.  He just released a new CD/DVD of his Comedy Central special, My Weakness is Strong.

(available on the Amazons)

This was my second time in the Newmark Theatre.  It suits a comedian as well as a 9-piece jazz band.  The show started right on time (7:30pm), and it was general admission, and I showed up at about 7:29pm… but I lucked out with a decent spot in the 2nd balcony.  The opener was really funny… a guy formerly from Portland, but who now lives in Seattle and writes trivia questions for an XBox game company or something.  I didn’t catch his name… Andy something (any help to fellow comedy-goers?).  Anyway, he was good, did 15 solid minutes and handed the mic directly to Patton…

Patton was really funny.  He has some bits canned, but he seems to wing it more than other comedians that I’ve seen (i.e.- Seinfeld & Carlin don’t tend to stray from their “script”).  Based on looking at the track titles from My Weakness is Strong, he did Sky Cake, The Oswalt Family Crest, Rats, Orgy, Treadmill, Obama…And Time Travel…And Coolness…And The Last Racist, and The Magician.  He also did the KFC Famous Bowl bit with a newly added bit about an upcoming “Double Down” sandwich that sounded dreadful to eat.  We got to witness a spontaneous song written for the Double Down when an audience member asked if there’d be a song…

♪♫ fuck you heart, fuck you liver, I’m gonna double down ♪♫

He ended the 90 minute set with the Christmas Song (Newsong) bit and a bit about Stella Dora breakfast treats.

Favorite bits from Patton…  hmm… Sky Cake (YouTube below) is a great bit and right up my alley.  Obama/Time Travel was great.  The Magician who was pissed about $5 was great.  KFC Famous Bowl / Double Down was classic, especially as we got to witness a new song formulated on-stage.  And Patton’s random interaction with a kid in a band from Eugene called Busket for about 5 minutes was pretty hilarious, too.  Good ol’ Motorized Vinyl Rhino!

Sky Cake is a Lie!

The Appropriate Linkage:

~Dan – np: Porcupine TreeThe Incident

Get Cross…

27th Aug 09 (Thu) Leave a comment

David Cross was playing at the Newmark Theatre in Portland, OR, on a day that I already had local Eugene plans (Th, Sep 24 – Raquy and the Cavemen).  Well, David’s show sold out so fast that they added a 2nd show the next night (Fri, Sep 25)… yay!  Needless to say, I already blue my tickets this morning.

For your own 2nd Portland David Cross show tickets… GO HERE.

This is going to be two weeks in a row with four shows on consecutive nights… batch 1 (Sept 15-19): Porcupine Tree & That1Guy / Wynton Marsalis / Sunny Day Real Estate / Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey (well, JFJO is a maybe as it’s the same day as PDX VegFest and we’re volunteering there early in the day), and then batch 2 (Sep 24-27): Raquy & the Cavemen / David Cross / Alice in Chains / Works Progress Administration (with Glen Phillips & Nickelcreek folks).

I wouldn’t have it any… other… way.  I do have a feeling that my concert reviews will suffer a backlog.  Anyway, I’ll take photos on shows I am able…

~Dan – np: Duran DuranAstronaut

REVIEW: Ornette Coleman and SFJazz Collective @ PDX Jazz fest (Portland – – 2/15/08)

16th Feb 08 (Sat) 3 comments

Gettin’ there… oy… bad “car on fire” accident just outside of Salem. Parking around the venue was wicked bad. It’s near Portland State University… which automatically means “minimal parking options” and there were tons of roads closed for construction… I ended up parking about a mile away. Grabbed a notdog from a hotdog shop en route. It was a yummy spicy Boca variety. Yay! I love living in Oregon — you can actually get a non-meat protein, horseradish-and-ketchup-into-your-system delivery device in a fauxtube-steak format from a fastfood-type outlet.

Anyway, post-dawg… I showed up at the venue at 7:23pm for the 7:30 show. I ran part of the way; so it was a close one…

Ornette Coleman @ the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
The main dude (artistic director) for the PDX Jazz Fest 503(c)(3) looked sorta like James Randi — alas, he wasn’t (he’s Bill Royston). He announced the sponsors: Oregonian A&E, Qwest Communications, and the Portland Trailblazers. My a priori understanding of the Oregonian A&E is that they have TV shows of Criss Angel-types who make your pilate mat and hummus plate disappear while playing indie rock in the background at silly volumes. I might be wrong, though. Qwest Communications is most famously known for providing reasonably-priced, high-speed internets that aren’t available at my address. The Portland Trailblazers play what I understand to be a game called “basketball.” It’s like a big game of team-based ping-pong. Except the table is huge, you stand on it, and the net isn’t in the middle, it’s on the ends of the huge table. Oh, and you can hit the net, but you don’t use paddles. You use your hands!! Oh, and the ball is huge and not made out of plastic. So, the Trailblazers are basically a ping-pong team. Once Mr. Royston got the sponsors out of the way, he introduced SF Jazz’s Joe Lovano who introduced Ornette Coleman

Ornette started playing around 7:40pm… his band wasn’t the band from his last CD (the Pulitzer Prize winning Sound Grammar); and I didn’t get their names, as they weren’t listed in the program. He had a drummer (possibly his son), a guitarist, and two bassists (one upright, one electric). I’m more horrible with Ornette’s song names than just about anyone, though. I do know for a fact that he played “Lonely Woman” (from The Shape of Jazz to Come). I also think he played “Song X.” He only announced one song from the stage (the opener to the set), but he’s got a slight lisp and the mic wasn’t on all the way. It sounded like he said “Buttered Helen.” So, yeah, I don’t know. He and his band played a blistering hour+twentyfive improv set, only stopping briefly prior to the encore. Ornette primarily played his trend-bucking non-metallic white sax. He also played violin (lefty) and trumpet during some songs. It was a brilliant free jazz set all around. I’m thoroughly glad that I got to see this pioneer of the free jazz movement.

I left as the band left the stage the second time… to get to the Newmark Theatre for Round 2 of the PDX Jazz Fest. Luckily the Newmark Theatre is 50 yards away, if that. Which was good, because as I was planning online, Ask.com’s maps… well, they’re utter crap. It said the venues were 1.2 miles away by foot. Wrong!

SF Jazz Collective @ the Newmark Theatre
Mr. Royston announced a new sponsor for this SFJC show: American Airlines. I hear that they are a busline that provides “air vents” for every passenger’s seat. Seems “OK” for a bus trip. I’d rather fly, though. He then introduced The Bad Plus (who I wish I could have seen last week in Eugene, they rock) who introduced the 8-piece SF Jazz Collective

SF Jazz Collective is a group that is commissioned each year to arrange and play the works of a jazz great. Past years have been Ornette Coleman (2004), John Coltrane (2005), Herbie Hancock (2006), and Thelonious Monk (2007). This year’s group arranged Wayne Shorter tunes. I haven’t gotten into Wayne Shorter (yet), but I know he played with Art Blakey, Miles Davis, and he’s on Herbie Hancock’s V.S.O.P.. Oh, I guess I’ve also heard his band Weather Report. So, I lied, I have gotten into him at least through WR and Herbie… Anyway, the SF Jazz Collective build a new repertoire each year based on a jazz great and then they all each write a new tune for the group.

The band for 2008 (links and instruments below) is Joe Lovano, Dave Douglas (one of my fav jazzmen), Stefon Harris, Miguel Zenón, Robin Eubanks, Renee Rosnes, Matt Penman, and Eric Harland. This was Dave’s 2nd season with the group. This show was their first show of the 2008 season, but they were far from rusty. They played for about an hour and half before I left (I had to bail half way through the encore in order to get home by 1am… oy). They announced their songs from stage, and they had a handy-dandy program available, too. Here’s what they played: “Go” [Wayne Shorter: hereafter WS], “Armageddon” [WS], “The Angel’s Share” [Matt Penman], “The Year 2008” [Eric Harland], “Black Nile” [WS], “Infant Eyes” [WS], “Secrets of the Code” [Dave Douglas], and the encore was announced by the pianist as “another Wayne Shorter tune that I’m sure you know.” Alas, I didn’t know it. It started out with piano… so I’ll leave it at that.

8 songs, 90 minutes. You do the math (I’ll give you a hint: divide, don’t multiply. Show all work to receive partial credit).

Also in their 2008 repertoire (sets change nightly): Wayne Shorter tunes “Aung San Suu Kyi,” “Diana,” “Footprints,” “El Guacho,” and “Yes or No.” Band member tunes “Aurora Borealis” [Renee Rosnes], “Frontline” [Miguel Zenón], “Road to Dharma” [Stefon Harris], “This That and the Other” [Joe Lovano], and “Breakthrough” [Robin Eubanks].

Oh, I forgot to say… somehow my ticket for SFJC was in the “wheelchair section.” That ruckin’ focked!! I could spread out. Totally luck of the draw on the ticket… but I tain’t complainin’…

The Appropriate Linkage:

yay… Glen Phillips and Belà Fleck next week…

~Dan – np: Charlie Hunter TrioCopperopolis

EDIT (4/7/08): Allaboutjazz.com has a nice review of the Ornette show HERE

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