There are only two days left to the Undead Music Festival, which is taking place in Brooklyn and the Village.
The title “undead” for a jazz festival is kind of odd, but one source noted it might have come from the often-asked question, “Is jazz dead?” and this festival makes it perfectly clear, with its hip audacity, that jazz is not undead—it stretches from acoustic to electronic, free and spirited with an improvisational force that will rock any straight jazz world patrolled by those music police.
Thursday, May 15 (tonight), the festival will present Daedelus and Shigeto, featuring trumpeter Graham Haynes, bassist Eivind Opsvik and drummer Mark Guiliana. This spirited shakeup of improvisational moods will take place in Brooklyn at Littlefield, 622 Degraw St., at 8 p.m.
If you are frigid about your jazz, then those names may not mean much because these musicians are deeply involved in taking the music to a higher plain, keeping it excitingly on the edge of no return. Their musicianship is recognized from straight to free jazz.
The drummer Guiliana leads his own band (Beat Music) and has played with Brad Mehldau, Meshell Ndegeocello, Gretchen Parlato, Jason Lindner and Lionel Loueke.
Haynes, who often leads his own group, has collaborated with Roy Haynes (his father), Cassandra Wilson, Vernon Reid, Meshell Ndegeocello, the Roots and David Murray.
The bassist Opsvick from Norway has his own label, Loyal Label, and leads his own band. He has performed with the Jeff Davis Trio, Russ Lossing and Brian Blade.
Daedelus (Alfred Darlington) is a beat master, an inventor in the electronics of music always looking for a new direction. His co-collaborator, Shigeto (Zach Saginaw), is also beat-driven, infusing rich, textured sound designs into their music.
The festival ends on May 16 at Le Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker St. in Manhattan, with Marc Ribot’s Los Cubanos Postizos (aka the Prosthetic Cubans). Ribot, a native of Newark, N.J., will reunite his group from the 1990s that was built around arrangements of the Cuban bandleader Arsenio Rodriguez.
The group will feature Cuban drummer Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez and original members keyboardist Anthony Coleman, bassist Brad Jones and percussionist E.J. Rodriguez. The concert begins at 7:30 and will also feature Chia’s Dance Party.
The New York-based quintet features a cross-section of original material inspired by the Columbian rhythmic and melodic traditions. The musicians include tuba player Ben Stapp, soprano saxophonist Alex Terrier, alto saxophonist/flautist Justin Wood, Rafi Malkiel on euphonium and musical director and composer Martin Vejarano on drums.
The Undead Music Festival was cofounded by Brice Rosenbloom and Adam Schatz. The festival is part of Red Bull Music Academy Festival, which ends May 31. For more information, visit redbullmusicacademy.com and undeadmusic.com.
During his recent sold-out engagement at the Blue Note, pianist Omar Sosa defied categorical boundaries. His music features a Latin flavor from his native homeland of Cuba layered in African roots, with chords that reflect an African dance tradition and sometimes a fast-paced rhythmic force that prompts the soul of Latin music from the rumba to mambo inherited in the blues and spirited spiritual chants.
Sosa’s quartet included saxophonist Leandro Saint-Hill, bassist Childo Thomas Madangela and drummer Ernesto Simpson. Together, these musicians are a fierce, intuitive force that reflects the voice of African and Latin culture. Like a Baptist preacher, Sosa sweats and claps his hands as the music forces the audience to clap and move in their seats, baring witness to the uplifting spirit.
He plays the piano with cascading, pounding notes. His musicians alternate on electric bass and timbales. There are Latin beats, salsa swing rhythms and funk. The audience wanted more. There aren’t many pianists who can free your soul like Sosa.
The Christian aTunde Adjuah Dectet: Stretch Music is the most dynamic improvisational ensemble on the jazz scene, as he recently demonstrated at Harlem Stage as part of the Harlem Jazz Shrines Festival. The young trumpeter from New Orleans has nurtured a 10-piece ensemble that uses the seeds of Miles Davis’ innovative fusion concepts to create Adjuah’s own creative movement of jazz.
This isn’t a fusion band—it is a creative ensemble that plays a mixed improvisational brew that includes, at times, fusion, the swing from New Orleans’ strutting marching bands, electric funk and blues from the core. Adjuah can play it straight. He has a smooth, mellow tone that can sink the blues into any tune or raise the notes to the sky, urging audiences to move to the beat. The guitarist Cliff Hines is an electronics wizard whose technology blends in to stretch the music.
Adjuah gave his musicians opportunities to stretch out on their solos. The vibraphonist Warren Wolf was involved in an intense conversation with the two drummers Corey Fonville and Joseph C. Dyson Jr., along with deep undertones from bassist Max Moran.
All the tunes were originals. The many instruments offer the band the chance to perform with a variety of textures, including high sweet notes from 19-year-old flautist Elena Pinderhughes, a student at Manhattan School of Music. Vocals were provided by Isadora, Adjuah’s wife.
“This unit was created with the mission of eradicating all arguments that inhibit creative thought and experimentation in music,” stated Adjuah.
Eddie Palmieri is the “Salsa King.” He has inspired audiences and musicians since the 1960s, and his album “Azucar Pa’ Ti (Sugar for Me)” is a international anthem. During his recent engagement at the Blue Note, the audience yelled for more as they moved frantically in their wooden seats with an urgency to get up and dance.
Palmieri dedicated “Life”—a tune, he noted, he was playing for the first time—as a tribute to his wife of 60 years who had passed away on May 3, only four days prior to this engagement. The tune was a moving melody of the pianist’s hard-hitting notes that moved with a heartfelt intimacy, producing some watery eyes in the audience.
During the evening, the pianist told many jokes and kept swinging with a variety of special guests, including vibraphonist Joe Locke, alto saxophonist Donald Harrison, baritone saxophonist Ronnie Cuber and violinist Alfedo De La Fe. He took the audience back to those swinging days when he performed in the Bronx at the Concourse Plaza and downtown at the Diplomat Hotel for serious salsa dancers only.
Palmieri gave his son Eddie Jr. credit for putting this dynamic band together.