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by Thomas Hauner

31 Aug 2009

Robert Glasper at le Poisson Rouge, NYC

Robert Glasper’s album release party was a study in the dynamics of contemporary jazz.  Flexing the genre’s malleability as well as his own, Glasper showed off his abilities as both trio leader and experimental hip-hop group collaborator.  As he often does on his new album Double Booked, Glasper would either seize each ensemble’s melodic reins or demurely diffuse his harmonies into the underlying cadences, as led by drummer Chris Dave and bassists Vicente Archer (acoustic) or Derrick Hodge (electric) depending on the outfit.  In fact, Glasper receded too regularly into the background while playing in the trio but it’s a tendency whose success depends on taste.  For fans favoring the Experiment, it allowed Dave to take commanding solos that inverted the possibilities of his small kit.  For fans favoring Glasper’s prominence, there were never enough moments of aleatory but refined solos.  Everyone, however, appreciated Glasper’s disarming approach to both sets (one with each setup.)  Not unlike le Poisson Rouge’s own dressing down of classical music and jazz, it was a reassuring approach to an ostensibly imperious art.

by Thomas Hauner

25 Aug 2009

Singer Ed Macfarlane works the crowd at NYC's Le Poisson Rouge

How long does it take to set up a bunch of drums, some keyboards and two amps?  Apparently, at least an hour.  The wait between opener, the Phenomenal Handclap Band, and headliner, Friendly Fires, was spectacularly long (longer than either’s actual set) but fans were rewarded with two stellar, albeit stylistically different, sets.

by Kirstie Shanley

25 Aug 2009

Frances Reader and the Trashcan Sinatras at Schubas Tavern, Chicago

Fans of Scotland’s five-piece Trashcan Sinatras were thrilled last Sunday night to have the opportunity to see them playing songs again from their previous five studio albums as well as new material.  Devotees were also excited to be able to purchase their newest, soon to be officially released album, In the Music, which the band is planning on touring on more extensively in the fall.  Despite that The Trashcan Sinatras have technically been around for nearly 25 years, its members don’t seem worn down.  They haven’t lost their ability to be truly engaging live, finding a balance between subtlety and devoted cries.

by Liz Colville

25 Aug 2009

Alela Diane, a Portland, Oregon transplant from Nevada City, California, took the spotlight at a packed Union Hall recently after sets from Melbourne, Australia’s Luluc and Bushwick’s own Sharon Van Etten.

by Thomas Hauner

20 Aug 2009

//Mixed media

Con Brio: The Best New Live Band in America?

// Notes from the Road

"There’s a preciousness to McCarter and the rest of the mostly young band. You want to freeze the moment, to make sure they are taking it all in too. Because it’s going to change.

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