Science defines synergy as the creation of a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. Rochester, or at least those in the overflowing crowd that attended the Walt Atkison/Bernie Heveron/Kinloch Nelson concert last evening at the relocated Tango Café were treated to an all too rare example of musical synergy. The three talented musicians, who hadn’t played together in over a decade, after Walt Atkison moved to North Carolina, recombined for an evening of old and new Atkison songs that left the audience craving more, even as the second hour-long plus set drew to a close.
Atkison leads with a Cheshire-smiling, raspy firecracker voice, in between fast-train harmonica wails, and guitar riffs punctuating his songs. Though he's a one-man band on his own, the space and wide-net he gives his band mates, Kinloch Nelson on guitar and Bernie Heveron on guitar and bass (both stand-up and folk) easily brings out the
best of each of them. And when the band is having that much fun, so is the audience. Paul Ruske sat in on hand drum and tambourine, adding a subtle rhythm. The elegant room and the perfect summer night air outside the open windows was filled with music from the first note.
"Before You Accuse Me" and "Microwave Blues" heated up the crowd, and transported enthusiastic fans back to the days when the three musicians had a large and devoted following in Rochester. The audience sang along with familiar and favorite lines, and the joyous hoots and shouts of the crowd punctuated the end of each song. When the band, working seamlessly, launched into Summertime, Atkison’s voice brought home the depth of the lyric and the end of the song came too soon.
The ever affable Atkison’s lighter side shone brightly on songs such as "Saturation," "I Don’t Think You Know You Know Me," "Cha Cha Cha," "Blue Tatoo," and "Craven You," a song title triggered by a cigarette brand in Troronto called Craven A.
Rochester was represented not only by the musicians but the songs as well. Cadillac Hotel was a stand out with unmistakable references to the city Atkison once, and Heveron and Nelson still, call home. The trio, sounded as though they had spent the last decade practicing for this concert, yet each taking solos throughout the evening also showed their personal musical chops. For some, it was a return to the days when the trio would fill the Elmwood Inn each week, for others it was what they now hope was the first in a long series of concerts by this group. Almost three hours after it started, the evening was over all too soon for the audience. As one fan put it, “I cannot think of a musical event that I ever enjoyed more than this.” That seemed to be the unanimous sentiment of all in attendance.
lou faber & elaine heveron
As someone who does not often attend, I think it's a great idea to include the concerts with modern content like Star Wars, Pixar, etc. We once took all our kids and drove to Cleveland to hear the Orchestra perform the score from The Lord of the Rings. I would also be enthusiastic to attend concerts featuring popular young musicians/multi-instrumentalists such as Chris Thile, Ben Solee, Andrew Bird, The Punch Brothers. They would certainly draw a whole other world of listeners to the performances. Exploring ways to get young people to consider attending performances by an orchestra seems to be very important if the traditional symphony is to survive.
Frank, Little Steven loves to play the Rolling Stones in their garage band phase. From their second american LP titled 12x5 there is a kick butt song (my favorite) that I have only heard him play on his show. The title is "Empty Heart"......(is like an empty lie...).
That's where I believe the band's name came from.
__"new music director" "new position" "new and vibrant" "new and exciting ways"__
"New" yes but lest not forget that a world class orchestra to be successful blends the new with the old. Too much new too quickly can lead to turmoil and trouble for director and orchestra. I think a case in point can be made for the recent RPO season of troubles.
Anyway here's to successful for Stare and the RPO!
Been watching Greg play guitar since we were teenagers. He makes us proud AND makes us dance back home in Rochester.
Great article. Greg is one of the musicians I miss after leaving Rochester. Best of luck in all your endeavors, Greg!!
Greg is one of my favorite people in the world. It's SO good to see all his success. To the toppermost of the poppermost with Greg!
Local Originals THE HEROIC ENTHUSIASTS open. Music starts PROMPTLY at 8:00pm so get there early! This is going to be an awesome show!
Robert Rudolph and the Family Band play on Friday, not Saturday ... http://www.rochesterevents.com/festivals-events/big-rib-bbq-blues-fest/concert-schedule
Good review of my favorite band(s); go see them if you get the chance.
Bill, thank you for the catch. We updated the story to reflect her French background.
sorry frank but Cyrille Aimée is all French maybe with some American mixed in ...
Not reviewed by anyone this year, but surely one of the Festival's most outstanding acts, was pianist Gwilym Simcock playing solo at Christ Church last night. Simcock, who is equally at home in classical and jazz, belongs on any list of the finest pianists in the world right now, and his performance was clear evidence of that. His technical sophistication, combined with an ability to penetrate to the essence of the music he is playing, resulted in a breathtaking experience for the audience, which reacted accordingly. He really needs to be in Hatch Hall, preferably with his trio.
I would strongly agree with Ron's review of The Wee Trio -- for me they were simply one of the best acts at the Jazz Festival this year, even though they are just starting out. I was struck not only by their individual talents, but also the originality of their arrangements. They did some highly imaginative stuff, like transposing one standard into a minor key and supplying entirely new rhythm structures to others -- all with great success. They did play together very well with one exception -- Jared Schonig on drums had a tendency to drown out James Westfall on the vibraphone on occasion. Schonig needs to take his volume down a bit and Westfall definitely needs to bring his up (it may sound loud enough to him, but it doesn't carry as well as it should to the audience). One really wants to be able to hear Westfall because he is especially good -- certainly far better than Jason Marsalis.
This group is probably going to continue to get better and could become a major star in the firmament of American jazz. Those who missed them Friday night can catch them at the Rochester Club on Saturday.
It sure was a great show, I'm pretty sure Joey is the only artist at the Jazz Fest this year who is pretty much the acknowledged leading player in the world on his instrument.
Not to nitpick but Joey wasn't playing a B3, it was actually a C3. And he regularly plays a Hammond "clone" in shows, in fact he played one the night before at the Toronto Jazz Festival. Probably better to just refer to him as a jazz organ player nowadays.
A few comments to amplify's Ron's review of Wednesday night. First, I would note that one of the most remarkable things about Warren Wolf was how much he played during the 10pm set. Instead of doing a quick solo and then turning things over to the other members of his band, he was on his vibes almost the entire time, although his highly capable sidemen did get their respective chances to shine. He also has an exceptional musical touch in addition to his lightning speed.
I, too, found the British pianist Jonathan Gee a disappointment, but I wonder if a large part of that was due to the fact that he was playing with a bass guy and drummer he had just picked up (they were working so hard at reading their scores that they paid little attention to him). If he had been with bassist Joseph Lepore and the great drummer Nasheet Watts, with whom he has recorded an album, it would likely have gone much better. It is also true that pianos invariably sound tinny in the cavernous echo chamber of Christ Church, and last night it was often drowned out by the drums. I do agree, though, that Gee's attempt to sing without engaging the audience was a major mistake -- easily the worst part of his program.
Thank you for this review. I regret missing this festival and will keep an eye on next year. Nice to hear the Brubeck blood continues on. I've been a Rachel Brooke fan for years and urge you to check out more of her catalog.
Good reviewing from City as usual, but it is nonetheless disappointing that none of the bloggers got to the Shia Maestro Trio at the Rochester Club for what was clearly the highlight of the night (and probably one of the best acts of the entire Festival). The music was progressive and highly original, and the talent of the players phenomenal. Shai Maestro was here a few years ago with the great bassist Avishai Cohen, but the bass player he brought with him this time was surely the equal of Avishai and perhaps even more inventive in the ways he managed to coax amazing sounds out of his instrument. The drummer was top-flight as well. One hopes this group will be invited back soon and put in a venue that will bring in an even larger crowd.
I liked the second set a lot. It did strike me as unusual that they alternated pieces that were out or close to out (usually Ballantyne's, e.g. Round Again) with pieces that were VERY in (usually Nussbaum's). I think I have a pretty broad appreciation of the idiom, so I liked them both. They did everything well. But I could see that someone would like just half the set. They demanded a broad taste, or vocabulary, of their audience.
The drummer with Melissa Aldana (who was terrific) was Francisco Mela. He's played at the festival a few times before--with Esperanza Spaulding, Antonio Ciacca, and Joe Lovano.
Website powered by Foundation