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2008/06/23 Donny McCaslin, Ben Monder, Adam Cruz, Boris Kozlov at 55 Bar

I’ve seen Donny McCaslin play in a trio and in Steps Ahead, and now in a quartet of top New York musicians.
I’ve seen Donny McCaslin play in a trio at Louis 649, and with Steps Ahead at Iridium. Since I was spending a lot of time in NYC this summer, I decided to see him perform in a quartet at 55 Bar. When I arrived, there was one seat the bar, right up at the front … and I had a nice conversation with the drummer’s fiancee.

The motivation for seeing the quarter was the sidemen: Adam Cruz on drums. Boris Kozlov on bass, and Ben Monder on guitar. Some of Donny’s tunes I’ve heard before, but in jazz there’s always space for different interpretations.

55 Bar, as usual, was packed. It’s a long, narrow basement with a few row of tables and lots of people standing at the back. Continue reading2008/06/23 Donny McCaslin, Ben Monder, Adam Cruz, Boris Kozlov at 55 Bar

2008/02/07 Steps Ahead Special Edition, Iridium Jazz Club, New York

Bill, Antonio and I were fully entertained by Steps Ahead Special Edition, at the Iridium Jazz Club.
I claim that the best live concert performance of my life has been Steps Ahead in 1986, at the Bottom Line in New York. I think that I’ve seen the band play once in Toronto in the 1990s. Whenever I’m scheduled to be in New York, I check if Steps Ahead is playing. This time, we made it a team event, as Bill was in town for a client meeting, and I had told Antonio to expect a great show. The members of Steps Ahead have changed over the years, but the virtuosity is always top notch. This Special Edition ensemble featured Bryan Baker on guitar.

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The leader — and center — of Steps Ahead is Mike Mainieri. On stage, he speaks about an amazing legacy of bands going back over 50 years, to the Paul Whiteman Orchestra and the Buddy Rich sextet. He’s amazing to watch on the vibes.

20080207_Iridium_StepsAhead_Mainieri.jpg Continue reading2008/02/07 Steps Ahead Special Edition, Iridium Jazz Club, New York

2008/01/28 Donny McCaslin, Louis 649, New York

I went to a Louis 649, a small bar on the Lower East Side, to see Donny McCaslin play sax.
I had heard an audio interview by Jason Crane on The Jazz Session about Donny McCaslin. I liked the way he plays sax, and noted that he lives in New York City. Thus, with a business trip down to the area, I tracked down Donny playing in a trio at Louis 649.

20080128_Louis649_McCaslin.jpg

The drummer and bass player seemed to be friends of Donny, and this was a rather loose gig. I spoke with Danny — he had been in Toronto just a few weeks earlier for the IAJE convention. I bought his CDs so that I can listen at home. Continue reading2008/01/28 Donny McCaslin, Louis 649, New York

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