LIVE AT SMALLS
Every once in a while I go back to New York to recharge myself, check out some great music, see my friends as well as playing some gigs with some amazing musicians. Last spring I had a great time in the Big Apple. My first gig took place at Smalls where I had been playing a few times before I moved out of the city in 2005. I spent a lot of time down there in the past and it was a pleasure to hang out there again. It was as if nothing had changed since the good old days.
For the occasion I called Aaron Goldberg on piano who I had played with back in 2001 at the Rainbow Room. He most definitely is one the best jazz piano players in the world and it was a honor and a blast having him perform some of my music. The great Omer Avital played bass. He and I never played together before but I heard him million times playing down at the same spot ten years or so ago. It was so comfortable and enjoyable grooving with this amazing talent.
Michael Blake was on saxophone. During these last 2 years I've been teaming up with Michael. Everytime I perform with him I feel very relaxed knowing we both come from the same musical place. He's a very special person and a unique musican.
A few weeks back I was walking in Venice and suddendly ran into William Parker - on a day off from his tour - who was taking a stroll in the city. He was accompanied by his manager, piano player Eri Yamamoto and singer Leena Conquest. It was a real surprise as I had not seen Eri from the New School days and we all decided to go for a drink.. Italian style!
We had a very pleasant time and I got aquainted with Ms. Conquest whose voice I had heard in Parker's "Song Of Hope". Once in New York I asked her if she could sit in in one of my tunes for the Smalls performance and she agreed. I was struck by her stunning interpretation of my original song "World Traveller" as we did not have much time to rehearse.
It was a memorable night that got recorded by Smalls owner and great piano player Spike Wilner and that can be heard here:
LIVE AT NUBLU
Just a few days later - on April 18 - I performed with my good friends and partners in crime Bill Ware and Brad Jones at Nublu. I was part of Bill's band Vibes from 2002 up to 2005 during which time we played regularly as a trio or in larger ensemble and in many different situations. For the Nublu gig I involved once again Michael Blake and guitarist Teddy Kumpel came and sat in with us. It was a pretty short but super funky show. We performed the old tunes from Bill's repertoire and each one of us remembered everything in detail. I really hope there's a chance to keep playing - maybe in Europe - with these incredible and underrated musicians as well as recording some killing album... anyone out there?
Michael Blake (tenor saxophone) Bill Ware (vibraphone) Brad Jones (bass) Tommaso Cappellato (drums) Teddy Kumpel (guitar)
After these 2 awsome shows I took it down south to experience what I should have done much before... NOLA baby! many many thanks to my Brooklyn brothers DJ Concerned and Chauncey Yearwood who convinced me to go during the first week of Jazz Fest!!!! I heard and saw so much music from brass bands like HOT 8 and Rebirth, jazz acts like master drummer Herlin Riley Quartet + Wynton Marsalis to The Lincoln Jazz Orchestra + Yacub Addy & Obabaa (from Ghana); from the old school R&B of Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings to the new school of Erykah Badu.. All of it was so inspiring. The best part of being there was feeling the great vibe that permeates the whole town despite the pityful events of 2005. People were very warm and welcoming and musicians were very open to share. With my great surprise I ran into a couple of old friends from school and wonderful musicians: saxophone player John Ellis and organ player Joe Ashlar. I had not seen both of them in a while and it was a great pleasure. I promised myself i would spend more time there, there's so much to learn and more talented people to meet. Definitely a special and spiritual place.
BACK TO NYC
Once back in NY I played a couple of "new-york-style-lounge-gigs" before taking off to Italy. The first one was with Gabriele Donati on bass and Greg Ruggiero on guitar. Obliqsound Records producer Michele Locatelli showed up and sat in on guitar. Gabriele, Michele and I attended New School University at the same time and used to have a jazz trio that toured Switzerland in 1998.. so there was another beautiful reunion.. hopefully one day we'll get together for a recording session. The second with Italian bass player - now living in NYC - Gianluca Renzi and once again my big brother Michael Blake on tenor.
Wed. APRIL 29 2009 10pm
100 Forsyth St. New York, NY
Greg Ruggiero (guitar) Gabriele Donati (bass) Tommaso Cappellato (drums)
Thu. APRIL 30 2009 9pm
1 E 35th St. New York, NY
Michael Blake (tenor saxophone) Gianluca Renzi (bass) Tommaso Cappellato (drums)
A very intense trip that got me connected to the spirit of the city where I grew myself up for almost a decade... to be continued...