NYC JazzFest Coverage: Part II

Winter Jazz 2013 Part II
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Continued from last week…

After catching the end of Sunny Kim’s strange but intriguing set at the Culture Project on Bleecker Street, I walked back to LPR where there was a tribute to Gil-Scot Heron, Brian Jackson, and The Midnight Band.  I honestly am not too familiar with these artists and when it was said that Brian Jackson was here playing piano, I didn’t know what all of the hubbub was about.  As soon as the performers started playing, though, I got an idea; I’ve heard that Heron is a must-get-into artist, and from what I was hearing, I could understand why.  Like the set the Revive Big Band put on at Sullivan Hall, this tribute set featured a lot of horn solos and pauses for drums, and you couldn’t help but bob and chant along.  This was some scintillating, fun music and I wanted to stay longer but Corey King and TAFFY were playing back at Sullivan Hall, and particularly because I spoke to Mr. King on the phone a few days prior, I was keen to check it out.

As before, Sullivan Hall was pretty crowded and people were filing in amidst DJ Rich Medina’s spinning.  Taking a spot just a few feet from the stage, I watched as Mr. King and his band got ready.  One performer, in particular, a girl wearing a bandana and practicing some chords on a sleek electric bass guitar, looked familiar.  After a funky opening piece that featured a long solo by trumpeter, Takuya Kuroda, Mr. King introduced his band.  As it turned out, “taking time out of her busy schedule,” as Mr. King joked, was Esperanza Spalding on bass guitar!  I—and I don’t think many others in the crowd—knew she was going to be there.  Mr. King has played with Ms. Spalding in her band but I had no idea that she played in his.  She’s another artist I’ve been meaning to get into, and her playing, combined with the hyena-like horns, rapid drumming, and fast keyboarding of Mr. King and his band was awesome.

Now just a few minutes to midnight, I knew where I was going next:  The Freedom Party spun by DJ Herbert Holler at Le Poisson Rouge.  A staple of New York City nightlife, The Freedom Party has garnered only acclaim, and so I had to see what it was all about.   The party began as the doors to the now neon-lit LPR dance floor were flung open and people began dancing onto it.  Up on stage, DJ Holler began with a Michael Jackson number (I ashamedly can’t recall which), and the crowd below was swirling and dancing under the silver disco ball.  That disco ball was just a side-effect of DJ Holler’s stunning ability to essentially transport you to a different era, to the 1970s, in fact.  Certainly, I—and many of the young people on the dance floor—weren’t around in the ‘70s but, nonetheless, an old-time feel of simple fun and dancing spooled out onto the dance floor, everybody just dancing to dance.  SCRATCH, SCRATCH, SCRATCH… ”I Wanna Be Your Lover” then came on amidst the hollers and hoots of the crowd.  Some more dancing and twirling.  Then, DJ Holler seamlessly transitioned into “Best of My Love” as old, black-and-white footage of disco-dancing appeared on the wall behind DJ Holler.  It was awesome.  But I was getting tired, and so called it a night.

Coverage of the 2013 NYC Winter JazzFest continues next week…

By Zach Weg

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