Week of Mon., Sept. 21, 2009
September 22, 2009, 7:53 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

9/22 – tuesday september 22nd

* Shakey’s Record Fair @ Public Assembly 7p-9p 4 FREE w/ RSVP

* Lebowski Fest – Movie Party @ Terminal 5

* Kailash Kher w/ DJ Rekha @ (Le) Poisson Rouge

* Soulsavers (Feat. Mark Lanegan) @ The Bowery Ballroom

* Harry Connick Jr. @ Highline Ballroom

< I wouldn’t necessarily throw my hand up in the air if someone were to ask me if I am a Harry Connick Jr. fan.  I believe I enjoyed his performances in Copycat, Little Man Tate and Independence Day but as a musician the only things I knew about him were that he played the piano and was from New Orleans.  I am obviously an idiot because he has sold over 16 million albums, has had 7 top 20 albums, 10 No.1 jazz albums and 3 Grammys….sigh….I suck.

Tonight’s show was for Clive Davis.  It was an intimate live performance of his new Davis-backed studio album of jazz standards and classic songs.  Hiro Ballroom with it’s Japanese lantern adorned roof hosted tonight’s high level industry showcase.  The soft lights of the venue were paired perfectly with a spotlight that cut through the darkness unmasking Harry and his band.

As I read through his bio afterwards, a lot of the compliments and things I liked about his performance made more sense.  I mean being a piano prodigy at 5, playing your first performances before you hit the age of 9 and having a platinum record by 21 can give you a certain confidence about what you do.  He was snug as a bug on drugs on stage.  So comfortable.  Whether he was singing a cut off the new album, improvising a piano solo, doing his impersonation of a hair stylist or just telling a story that happened while recording – his wit, delivery and poise made your realize that this cat was born to be on stage.

Without trying to re-hash what the whole world already knows about him but still emphasize that the rumors are true…Harry Connick Jr. excels as a musician.  He played the piano like it was an extension of his hand.  He would go into these zones where his eyes would float is his head for a second as he minced the keys with his digits coaxing these tight patterns of notes out of the piano.  Having his roots in jazz was apparent as he started off playing one of the classic “copyrights” from the album but quickly injected the improvisation juice and created a whole new version.  He would freestyle with his band through these ‘off the cuff’ moments and bring back the song so it would end on the notes the original author had intended.

Having been doing it since he was knee high to a grasshopper, HCJ knows how to pick musicians for his band.  The 10 musicians that played with him tonight ranged from a 3 piece violin section to a pair of computer musicians manning the ambiance and feel of the trax from the shadows.  The stand out player to me was a trombonist named Lucien Barbarin.  He was doing things with his instrument that I had never heard before.  He blew out these twisted intricate solos but, more impressive were these emotional one-note blasts that caressed the horn to coo out a tear jerking drone.  Lucien was playing the sh*t out of this thing.

One of the anecdotes Harry told was about how Clive (who had a back table with a gaggle of beautiful honeys with him) had approached him to do an album where he would only have to worry about delivering a vocal performance.  No composing and no arranging.  This is where I diverge from Mr. Davis’ vision.  Why?  Because Connick’s voice is actually the one side of him that doesn’t move me.  I  would hate to continue to think that he is a poor man’s Sinatra, but nothing his vocal stylings did tonight made me really think otherwise (sowwy).  He hit the notes, knew his vocal range and sang with passion but the end result is that his voice couldn’t compare to the way his fingers instinctively glided over the keys.

The sound was great throughout his hour long set which covered about half of the trax on his new project.  The boyish good looks that helped make him famous were slowly being replaced by that familiar comfortable dad-like appearance of a man who is looking forward to sitting on the porch with a bowl of gumbo and watch his latest album hit #1 (again).

He is, without a doubt, on the top tier of musicians/entertainers and for what he does…he is the best.  It is not my usual cup of tea but I had an grand time and walked away with a much deeper appreciation for the man.  -AV>

Artist/Event = 4/5       Location = 3.7/5

Tracklist and side deets…

9/23 – wednesday september 23rd

* Moby @ Music Hall of Williamsburg

* Yeah Yeah Yeahs @ Radio City Music Hall

* Fall for Dance: Savion Glover @ NY City Center

< I am a virgin.  A virgin to the whole dance thing.  The closest I ever got to being in the dance world was about 15 years ago when I would put on my JNCO jeans, whip out my glowsticks (not really) and hit a rave for 12 hours.  Tonight’s dancing was MUCH different than that.

Fall for Dance is a week set aside at the NY City Center where different dance companies put on a short version of there longer pieces allowing the audience to see a variety of styles, sights and sounds in one evening.  The cherry to the whole thing is that ALL tickets go for $10 a piece.  This gave me the chance to interact with a variety of people.  From the uppity socialites to kids showing up for the college credits, it was a cross section of people that were all made equal that night by capping the cost so that almost anyone could enjoy.

Act I

As the lights dimmed, I opened my mind to what the presenters had in store for us.  The “” company came out with a pretty big cast of about 10 performers or so.  Instead of concentrating on what I didn’t understand about the movements, choreography and overall meaning I tried to take a step back and see if I could understand what the dance was communicating….by George – I think I may have finally gotten it.  This was the first time I felt confident in saying “here is my interpretation of what’s going on”.  Maybe it was the over-acting that conveyed the message but, it seemed to be a piece about the relationship between men and women.  There were a group of males and group of females re-enacting the pulls, pushes, longing, rejection and acceptance of inter-gender relationships while moving their physical bodies in impressive fluid motions.  It was like a sped up mini version of when I try to court a girl, then I get rejected, then I’m loved, then hated, the I get laid, then slapped and finally I’m on stage in my leotards and I take a bow.  I was def moved by the dazzling performances and superb artistry not to mention how difficult it looked like some of the steps were.  Quick rating = 3.6/5

Act II

The second act was composed of 2 women from an Israeli company dressed in black and doing the most modern style I have seen.  Just as I was on my high horse of how I am in the damn “know” of modern dance, these performers reduced me back to the neophyte I truly am because I didn’t get this one at all.  I appreciated the way they contoured their body to fit into these unnatural poses and moves.  Their exaggerated movements were super intense and packed tightly into 10 min routine that took over the whole floor where just a minute ago 4 times the amount of dancers were prancing around.  The movements were very exciting as I had never seen anything quite like it.  What I enjoyed about the piece was that one could see that each woman was following the routine to the tee and at the same time adding their own unique twist/style to the execution of the dance.  And even though their technical work was fresh, by the end it evoked more confusion than emotion. Quick rating = 3.2/5

Final Act

Savion.  Forget what you saw in those 90’s Mickey D ads when Mr. Glover was first blowing up.  Check the tech ( 1st 2 mins). The only thing in common with them these days is that he is more O’fish than a fillet.

Tap is something I feel I can really tap (zing!) into.  Seriously, it is the one dance that I can connect with (other than breakdancing) that pushes me into that spine tingle zone.  The flow, the beat, rhythm…it’s the only dance that creates sound.  And tonight, Savion made more sound than a chainsaw when hit clickitty clacked his way into my heart.  First off, he made it all look so easy and effortless.  It was an amazing demonstration of the best tap dancing I have ever seen…on TV or otherwise.  It was a full presentation based around Savion being the 5th instrument in a traditional jazz group.

The 3 portable mini stages that had been brought out were designed with built-in microphones to maximize the sound of the taps.  The intro to the performance had the upright bass player plucking the strings into deep loops on a solo tip.  Soon, Savion came out and accompanied the bass with a very strong intro that included both solo foot work and a little back and forth battling with the bassist.  I really dug the contrasting dynamics between the smooth low notes of the bass and the sharp snaps of his feet more than any of the other instrument combinations that night.  An alto sax player, pianist and drummer came in succession with each one adding their specific element to the overall canvas of sound.

Savion’s moves, presense and footwork were doing the job of taking this art form to more than another level (more like an entire new game) by improvising, executing every step and leading the flow of the show and his band.  He was pulling off moves that I could have never dreamed of.  Whether is was silky slow tempoed taps or aggressive solos where he almost set the wood floor on fire…he could do it all plus some.  Midway through his performance he brought out a couple of protégés who lit up the floor as well.  If you thought it was tough just doing and following a solo routine, he again left the jaws of the room dropped when the trio went through a complex routine lock step in perfect time.

The performance ended as all the instruments (including Savion’s feet) moved from tempo to tempo and improvised pieces of music that lead up to a huge crescendo.  The sound and energy grew louder and faster until the room exploded.  Then, all of a sudden on one single note count at the end….the lights cut out, the stage went silent and the room blew up with the sounds of claps, whistles, hoots and ovations.


I’m not much of dance aficionado but I thanked my stars (and Sheryl) for giving me the chance to open my mind to something I was unfamiliar with.  In the end, I was turned onto something in a whole new way.  I am looking forward to Friday’s show…so stay tuned….Quick rating = 4.8/5 -AV>

“Get on your dancing shoes….” Artic Monkeys

9/24 – thursday september 24th

* Lebowski Fest @ Brooklyn Bowl

* Consequence at Who’s Next Live @ SOB’s

* Marianne Faithfull @ Town Hall

* Wavves with Ganglians @ Santos Party House

9/25 – friday september 25th

* Fall for Dance: Martha Graham @ NY City Center

<Updat3:  Being that I know so little about this sorta of thing, I don’t think I am doing the performances justice with the dance reviews.  But, rest assure that the Martha Graham, tango and other performance from tonight were the cats pajamas (meow!).  Next year you should wait in line for 8+ hours to cop some of these tix.  Or just cut in line.  Dancers are renowned for their horrible fighting skills.  -AV>

* Bronx Talks: It’s Just Begun Book signing with DJ Disco Wiz @ The Bronx Museum of the Arts

* Melting Pot Global ft. Tyrone “the Mixologist” @ South Street Seaport @ Water Taxi Beach

* D.U.M.B.O. Art Under the Bridge Festival @ 30 Washington Street Brooklyn, NY

9/26 – saturday september 26th

* The Kitchen Block Party @ The Kitchen

* Dub Trio @ Knitting Factory Brooklyn

* MoMA MiXX w/ Hercules & Love Affair @ MoMA The Museum of Modern Art

* Global Frequencies (Female DJ version) @ South Street Seaport – Water Taxi Beach

* I Love Vinyl @ (Le) Poisson Rouge (158 Bleecker St.) 11p 4 $5

* D.U.M.B.O. Art Under the Bridge Festival @ 30 Washington Street Brooklyn, NY

* FAB! Festival & Block Party @ Between Bowery & 2nd Ave (deets)

9/27 – sunday september 27th

* Japandroids @ The Mercury Lounge

* Jazz Age Lawn Party @ Governors Island

* AKB48 US Debut Concert in NYC @ Webster Hall

* D.U.M.B.O. Art Under the Bridge Festival @ 30 Washington Street Brooklyn, NY


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