Feb 042014

Kiran Ahluwalia
Kiran Ahluwalia sings what are known as ghazals, Indian poems and songs. She adds her own touch, however, and composes some of her own pieces as well. She performed on Friday, January 24, at the Clifton Center, with a band that included her husband, jazz guitarist Rez Abassi, accordion player Will Holshouser, and a tabla player, Nitin Mitta. Ahluwalia’s voice swooped and soared, and she used her hands and arms expressively, adding emphasis to the emotional delivery. Abassi’s playing in the context of his wife’s singing was less jazz oriented, as befitted the music. Her final piece was introduced with a long tabla solo. More next month on Abassi’s new album.

Nov 202013

Vibraphonist Dick Sisto and pianist Steve Allee return to the Clifton Center for a series of four concerts, in the same setting as the first, with audience members joining the musicians on stage. On November 24, the musicians will feature the spiritual music of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. The concert will also celebrate the release of the quartet’s new CD. Ticket information at www.cliftoncenter.tix.com

Nov 052013

Dave Douglas Quintet By Mike Tracy
The Dave Douglas Quintet, featuring Jon Irabagon (saxophone), Matt Mitchell (piano), Linda Oh (bass) and Rudy Royston (drums), the same lineup featured on Douglas’ last two albums, Be Still and Time Travel, played its first Kentucky concert at the Clifton Center on Sunday, September 29. The group opened with a track from Time Travel, “Little Feet,” introduced by Douglas with the comment that it was based on a children’s song. Douglas took the first solo, starting slowly but steadily, then building in intensity, a pattern followed by Irabagon (who snuck in a quote from “I Got Rhythm”) and Mitchell. “This Is My father’s World,” a hymn from Be Still, was next, with a lovely a cappella trumpet coda. Indeed, most of the songs throughout both sets were from these two albums. One notable exception came near the end of the second set, a moving rendition of the spiritual “There Is a Balm in Gilead,” a thematic fit to the songs on Be Still. Douglas and company played this slowly and emotionally, with a touch of New Orleans. Douglas eschewed the customary mute, instead cupping his upraised bell with his hand, even dropping to one knee before the song’s conclusion. The band closed with “Garden State,” from Time Travel, which featured a tight drums-and-bass duet. As Douglas told me in my interview for LEO [http://leoweekly.com/music/dave-douglas-older-dog-newer-tricks], “. . . the band that I’m coming with is the most identifiably jazz group of the things that I’m doing right now.” Indeed, between the classic quintet formulation and the handing off of solos from one musician to the next, this was mainstream modern jazz at its finest.

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