Category Archives: Performance Review

Roberta on the Arts: Pedro Giraudo Big Band at Jazz Standard

By Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 12, 2016
Read the Original Review on Roberta’s Website

”Muñeca”, “Push Gift”, “La Ley Primera”, “Lapidario”, “Desconsuelo Suite” (“Maté amargo”, “Con un nudo en la garganta”, “La Bronca”).

Pedro Giraudo, from Argentina, infuses his music with the roots of Argentine tango and Argentine folk music, and his compositions and styling also exemplify the Big Band influences of Ellington and Mingus. Coincidentally, I had just posted a review of Giraudo’s most recent album, Cuentos, and tonight’s concert featured many compositions from Cuentos. Sitting right next to the big band, specifically next to the trombones, in a front table at Jazz Standard, I not only listened but truly absorbed the fantastic, effusive sound. This first set opened with “Muñeca” (“Doll”). Ryan Keberle, on a trombone solo, as in the recording, presented lots of percussive flourish. The brass section merged with Jess Jurkovic on piano and Giraudo on bass, with contrasting and harmonized themes heard throughout. The sixteen-man band became individualized during its luminous solos, duets, and trios. It should be mentioned that Giraudo composed the music for the entire set. I noted in the CD review that “Muñeca” could be a score for an adventure film, with its drama, pulse, and flashy brass. Speaking of brass, the muted trumpets weren’t muted for long, with searing edge, taut syncopation, and propulsive urgency. Tatum Greenblatt, for one, was in rare form on trumpet, catching my attention with his resonant tonality.

The second composition, also from the album, was “Push Gift”, which was written in homage to Giraudo’s wife, as she recently gave birth to their second daughter. The gift is a tradition to help the mother-to-be at her time to “push”. The saxophones opened with Carl Maraghi maximizing the musical drama on a baritone sax solo. It became immediately apparent that this was a seasoned and disciplined ensemble. In fact, when I reviewed Mr. Giraudo’s Big Band here at the Standard in 2008, many of the same musicians were already working together. “Push Gift” included echoing, energized, and electrified passages. “La Ley Primera” (“First Law”), inspired by a long, Argentinean poem about a cowboy, showcased Alejandro Aviles on mellow, melodic alto sax, throughout. Trombones and saxes provided ambient backup with flashy breaks.

A premiere work, “Lapidario” (“Lapidary”), was written as a description of cutting or merciless comments, even comic “lapidary comments”, as Giraudo explained. It should also be noted that Giraudo was generous in his comments to the audience, further engaging its full attention. Baritone and alto sax solos were followed by a portentous chorus of trombones. Todd Bashore, on alto sax, went wild with a raucous, explosive theme. Jonathan Powell, on trumpet, added one more searing, pulsating solo, before the saxophones sent trills of notes, like tumbling waterfalls, on the heels of the full, big band. The final composition of the set was the three-part “Desconsuelo Suite”, “Mate amargo” (tea of bitter herbs), ), “Con un nudo en la garganta” (with a lump in your throat), and “La Bronca” (the rage). This piece was exceptionally percussive and imbued with clavé rhythms and Latin embellishments. At this moment I thought of the bands I’d heard at the Copacabana. Giraudo’s bass solo had inflections of Piazzolla tangos, poignant, emotional, and transporting. The soprano sax was scintillating in a pianissimo interlude. Soon saxes raced like speeding taxis in whirling repetitions. A solo trombone drove the finale, fusing with piano and bass.

Der Westen (Germany): “World Music as International Understanding”

(Translated from the original German)

As Richard Bona at the end of a colorful concert in the Philharmonie his listeners with a tender-dreamy solo a “Goodnight” wanted because nobody thought in the hall that this Friday night as others would end well everything.

Here the singing bass player from Cameroon had shown with his knotless between jazz, fusion, Latin and World Music iridescent band previously, as that sounds when meet different cultural influences. World music in the best sense. The Cubans Ludwig Afonso drummed cool grooves that Isamu McGregor casual colored on keyboards along with guitarist Adam Stoler. In the African-inspired serenity wove Richard Bona his hot pulsating five-string, including Tatum Greenblatt put fragrant trumpet accents.

About the original melange on top floated the flexible voice of 48-year-old bandleader who told incomprehensible tales in his mother tongue Douala.The cleverly integrated by him audience enjoyed the varied appearance but clearly and experienced a great band that proved confidently that (world) music is international understanding.

Read the original piece » “Ben Sidran, Old School Hipster at the Sunset-Sunside”

(Translated from the original French)

Six years and two albums have passed since the album Dylan Different q ui had devoted mad love between the pianist, singer and specialist in American jazz and Paris with a live recording (see our report book concert at New Morning). This is the Sunset-Sunside Ben Siran operates in three sets and the match 10 to 13 November in a “gig” culminated with his group where his son, Leo, operates on drums.

We went to hear this November 11th in the long perfectly packed house, with a majority of the American public and perfectly in unison. Charming bad boy hanging on the back of the room until the last moment when Ben Sidran going to the scene, sitting at the piano, surrounded by his bassist, his son on drums and Bob Rockwell on saxophone, he gives the signal that the real fun begins. And they begin with an apology: Rodolphe Burge, advertised as a party of the concert, faint. The trumpet of the brilliant Tatum Greenblatt replaces the guitar festival founder. It is in my valley.

One or two pieces are enough to slowly enter the public in a trance with the familiar rhythm of a jazz which plunges us into an eternal New York. We enter fully into the concert – as in a strong charm – when Sidran intones the groovy “Blue Camus’ eponymous title of his latest album (Bonsai Music, 2014), where the musical variations mingle with a sung-spoke full of Experience life in New York.

Having placed his audience in a trance, leaving a little time to clear solo Tatum Greenblatt then Bob Rockwell, Sidran takes over and voice. He followed several tracks on the penultimate album Don’t Cry For No Hipster (Bonsai Music, 2013). He shares sympathetic historical and sociological considerations about what a hipster: the concept dates back to even before having Williamsburg began to gentrify and time of prohibition. If today “Everyone is hip” in time there was the real rebel. Sidran speaks quickly in English to an audience that includes clockwork and smiled with him when the old sea dog calls itself an “Old school hipster.”

– Yael

Read the original piece »

The Village Voice: Misha Piatigorsky Concert Preview

Misha Piatigorsky brings his Quintet to ZINC Bar. While known for his Trio residency on Saturdays, Misha is teaming up with his friends for a bigger (and sometimes louder) sound of even more award-winning compositions. Wednesday performance brings together musicians who are highly sought-after: Tatum Greenblatt (trumpet), Tivon Pennicott (saxophone), Boris Kozlov (bass), Ari Hoenig (drums). Piatigorsky is playing piano … the evening will feature special guest appearances by Brazilian flutist Jorge Continentino and New York trumpet star Tatum Greenblatt.

Sydney Morning Herald: “Richard Bona: Born to play along with perfect pitch”

You see it in all fields of life, from dancing to gardening and from surgery to football: some people are born with a gift, others with steely determination. The great have both.

Whatever Richard Bona’s determination quotient, the New York-based Cameroonian was certainly born to make music. Tunes and rhythms would have oozed from his pores or inhabited his breath had he never learnt to play or sing.

However, he did, turning himself into a virtuoso bass guitarist and extraordinary singer. His gift is further evidenced by a command of percussion, guitar, keyboards, balafon and even saxophone, any of which may have been his main game had the wind blown from a different direction in his youth.

So making music is easy for Bona. You heard it in the unforced nature of his compositions, the fluency of bass playing, and perhaps above all in his singing, especially when he slid into his falsetto range. Most males venturing into that pitch zone sound either pinched or overly sweet. Bona’s falsetto, variously reminiscent of a muted trumpet or a soprano saxophone, was as organic as his chest voice.

Meanwhile, his material was a constant dialogue between the lilting Cameroonian music with which he grew up, fearsome funk, snappy Latin and lithe jazz grooves. Everything was infused with a big heart and an entertainer’s flair.

However, despite all these qualities, this was a very good concert rather than a great one.

Still with him from his last visit were keyboards player Etienne Stadwijk (Netherlands) and trumpeter Tatum Greenblatt (US), joined by guitarist Adam Stoler (US) and drummer Ludwig Afonso (Cuba). All were excellent players, and yet they did not quite reach that elevated plane on which Bona operates. The music continually promised more than it quite delivered, not aided by a sound mix in which the guitar and sometimes even Bona’s voice were buried. The highlights were two pieces he performed alone, the purity of his musical instincts then on unclouded display.

– John Shand

KPLU’s Jazz Northwest on Greenblatt Generations Band

Multi-generational bands are not uncommon in jazz, but a bit more unusual is a Father and Son front line. Tatum Greenblatt (trumpet) and his father Dan Greenblatt (tenor saxophone) have been playing gigs together since Tatum was in elementary school. Both are now veterans of both New York and Seattle jazz scenes and still enjoy playing together.

Tatum is active in New York and Dan lives in Seattle and they’ve been fronting a quintet several times a year for a reunion at Tula’s. Earlier this month, their gig was recorded for Jazz Northwest and highlights will air on 88.5 KPLU on Sunday, April 12 at 2 PM PDT and stream at

Joining the Greenblatts are pianist Randy Halberstadt, a mainstay on the Seattle music scene and Cornish College music faculty, Michael Glynn on bass and Phil Parisot on drums, both, like Tatum are alumni of the Garfield High jazz program.

– Jim Wilke

Listen to the full Tula’s performance on KPLU »

The Straits Times (Singapore) Review of Richard Bona at the Singapore Jazz Festival

…That set the scene well for Bona, a bassist with a deft, delicate touch and wicked wit, and his four virtuosic bandmates – Etienne Stadwijk on keyboards, Tatum Greenblatt (trumpet), Ludwig Afonso (drums) and Eli Menezes (guitar).

The quintet proved to be the evening’s blessing in disguise. They were so cool and hung together so well that listening to them was like rolling about in a cloud. They were best on quiet numbers and, throughout most of their eight-song set, Bona chanted in Douala, a Cameroonian dialect. He got the audience to sing along with him, which it did with much delight.

But the band’s break-out turns were even better. Stadwijk, in particular, was a masterclass in refinement and restraint, notably during his solo turn on the song “Mut’esukudu,” from Bona’s 2013 album Bonafied. Stadwijk’s precise inflections and lush chord changes were light as a feather yet laden with longing. Trumpeter Greenblatt complemented all that very well with his super-tight parps and squiggles of sound

– Cheong Suk-Wai

Read more » Re-visiting the Mingus Big Band at Jazz Standard

Three years ago, when I last reviewed the Mingus Big Band, I began by saying, “The Mingus Big Band is one of the most vibrant, personable, talented ensembles I’ve heard in ages”. Tonight’s Mingus Big Band was still as vibrant and engaging as it was then, with an almost entirely different ensemble of musicians. Boris Kozlov, who has played bass with the band on each visit, since 2005, when I first began writing about the group, was host, introducing musicians and music. Once again, the fifteen-piece (up from fourteen, on last visit) band sat in layered levels. Brass and microphones, positioned everywhere, were, once again, “a metaphor for this sometimes rambunctious, sometimes tranquil, sometimes unruly, sometimes harmonious, and always engaging concert experience”. Sue Mingus, Charles Mingus’ widow, remains its overseer and manager, and she’s obviously doing a fantastic job. In fact, they won a Grammy in 2011 for their album, Mingus Big Band Live at Jazz Standard, as the “Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album.”

I stayed for both sets tonight, enjoying a light supper in between. The first piece, Mingus’ “Gunslinging Bird”, included Tatum Greenblatt’s trumpet solo swinging wild. Tommy Campbell on drums, Helen Sung on piano, and Boris Kozlov on bass kept the rhythms pumped and percussive. Then Ms. Sung kicked it up a notch, before the full band exploded with propulsion. A soaring sax solo was followed by tantalizing trombones. The next piece was “Pinky”, with a highlighted tenor sax and Ms. Sung at the keyboard. Mingus’ “Haitian Fight Song” opened with an exotic bass string theme, then Douglas Yates’ warbling sax trills. Lew Soloff was spotlighted on trumpet, as was Tommy Campbell on drums.

“Oh Lord Don’t Let Them Drop That Atomic Bomb on Me” was spoken and sung by trombonist, Ku-umba Frank Lacy. Bluesy refrains were picked up on Greenblatt’s trumpet and on an intriguing piano-bass melody, filling the club with a New Orleans mood. Dave Taylor’s bristling trombone brought forth the full big band, infused with echoing phrases and Lacy’s vocals. Mingus’ “Tensions” brought out Coleman Hughes on rippling trombone, then Campbell’s rip-roaring to whispering, muffled drums, a study in nuanced volume. The band charged ahead like a caravan, turning it all over to Ronnie Cuber on baritone saxophone. “So Long Eric”, a tribute to Eric Dolphy, featured Douglas Yates on tenor sax and Greg Gisbert on trumpet. Kozlov carried the interlocking bass theme. A guest pianist, Julius Rodriguez, young and talented, sat in for this piece. A band member stood, arm up, to shift momentum toward the finale.

“Tijuana Gift Shop” was replete with lots of clavé rhythm, with the band clapping to set the tempo. Two trumpets opened, with Greenblatt on an expansive, electric solo. Brassy trills went up and down the scale. The full big band kept the Latin-infused beat through the finale. Ronnie Cuber and Helen Sung, back on piano, took the theme to its exotic conclusion. “Sweet Sucker Dance” (lyrics and words by Joni Mitchell) featured Wayne Escoffery on poignant sax solo, before the full band took merging themes, silently pausing for the tenor sax. Soloff on trumpet and Taylor on trombone had rousing solo turns. It was noted by Boris Kozlov that Charles Mingus was the first African-American composer whose entire work was purchased by the Library of Congress (1993). For “Don’t Let It Happen Here”, Lacy spoke the inspiring, requisite vocals. Tonight, with all the recent catastrophes in the news, a missing plane, a Crimean invasion, and more, the Jazz Standard crowd leaned in. Kudos to the Mingus Big Band, and kudos to Sue Mingus for keeping the Mingus repertoire so active and extraordinary.

– Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower

Jazz Journal (UK) Review of The Mingus Big Band at Ronnie Scott’s

Your intrepid correspondent woke up one morning with the realisation that he hadn’t visited Ronnie Scott’s club since the days of a special membership offer in the 1980s. It seemed time to rectify that omission. In between the club has had its ups and downs, but it’s evident that it’s now on a roll. The Mingus Big Band was repeating its sell-out run of last year, and I caught it on the penultimate night of its six-day engagement.

The opening band was an excellent trio led by the intriguing British pianist Tom Cawley, and featuring bassist Arnie Somogyi and drummer Chris Higginbotham. Cawley is a witty announcer and a lucid and engaging soloist, though the highlight of the set was a version of I Can’t Get Startedwhere the bassist played the theme and soloed first – to my surprise and indeed amazement, against the backdrop of an attentive and almost silent audience. (It always used to be a drawback of Scott’s that the jazz tourist crowd were a noisy presence, hence, I seem to recall, Lee Konitz’s famous T-shirt, “Listen”.) The trio were joined for the closing Straight No Chaser by trumpeter Tatum Greenblatt from the Mingus Big Band.

This aggregation is under the artistic direction of Charles Mingus’s widow Sue Mingus, and its personnel seems quite fluid – perhaps for reasons apparent in a YouTube video which plays ansaphone messages by musicians excusing themselves for not making a gig! The regulars seem to be Tatum Greenblatt, Philip Harper (trumpets), Clark Gayton (trombone), Abraham Burton (alto sax) and Ronnie Cuber (baritone). But in Italy earlier this year it featured Robin Eubanks on trombone, Adam Cruz on drums and Jim Ridl on piano. Bassist Boris Kozlov did the introductions this time, but Mike Richmond has also occupied the bass chair. Completing the line-up at Scott’s were Craig Handy, Brandon Wright, Wayne Escoffery (saxes), Luis Bonilla, Earl McIntyre (trombones), Alex Pope Norris (trumpet), Helen Sung (piano) and Tommy Campbell (bass). Despite shifts in personnel, they captured the Mingus identity for sure.

The band opened and closed with well-known Mingus compositions – Peggy’s Blue Skylight, arranged by Ronnie Cuber, and a medley of Mingus favourites concluding with Slop. In between was less familiar material. Little Royal Suite is a tribute to Roy Eldridge. It began with a duet between trumpet (Alex Pope Norris – a very taxing part) and drums, before moving into more familiar Mingus territory, with characteristic time and metre shifts. The piano solo by Helen Sung was delightfully Byard-like. Invisible Lady consisted of Mingus sketches put together by Jack Walrath, and featured an impassioned alto solo by Abraham Burton. Meditations On Integration (Or For A Pair Of Wire-Cutters) was a highlight. Brandon Wright on flute partnered Kozlov’s arco bass, brilliantly capturing the haunting, out-of-kilter theme. Again, the audience was amazingly quiet during the flute-piano duet.

Drummer Tommy Campbell was a model of taste throughout, except perhaps for the “squeaky” sticks on cymbal in the finale. Earl McIntyre was allowed a vaudeville-style tuba solo in the final coda, but maybe as the only Mingus veteran in the band, should have had more solo space. A low-ceilinged club like Ronnie’s might not be the ideal venue acoustically for a big band, but that was balanced by the excitement and sense of occasion generated. This was a really memorable gig by one of the finest legacy bands in jazz.

– Andy Hamilton

Badiche-Zeitung: “Richard Bona’s Great Performance at the Voices Festival”

(Translated from the original German)

Jazzy with one shot soul and rhythm and blues, sometimes edgy, rarely rough, often velvety supple pearls Richard Bona musical language. It is a personal World Fusion in far tortuous line between Brooklyn, Long Iceland and Douala, West Africa, but above all it is always exciting in a good mood. On Friday, the bassist, vocalist and born entertainer initiated this year Wenkenpark concerts a while tuning Festival. He should have probably brought the golden deer at the park entrance to the toe-tapping. Tearing his audience out of their seats seems the man with the tamed dreadlocks essential for salvation and please, also local indigenous people and “Swiss-People” are indeed manage well, sing a few African syllables. When the first signs of the large choir then still are not satisfactory, the current election-New Yorker born in Cameroon in 1967, draws with halbgespieltem horror short in the depths of the stage back, but this of course only to the same jump out again and to give once again a grin use to the next track. Of course, he does not give up. That the man bass and therefore does not play the first choice of solo instruments, incidentally, does not hinder him in the least, to give center stage. For this he breathed his five-string nearly a independent life, can apparently from him and tear over lofty boundaries. Some fast-paced run and the end of the fingerboard can hardly stop there. Vocally he joins in. The four companions are well chosen, especially guitarist Adam Stoler, which more than once fanciful virtuoso Jimi Hendrix seems to touch the strings, and Tatum Greenblatt, whose trumpet replaced a whole horn section. With Bona’s bass can be here and there a glorious musical duel fight, the groove does not diminish. The whole group has, as it should be, a large number of grandmasters in the biographical baggage, Bona itself was already with Manu Dibango, Pat Metheny, Herbie Hancock or Mike Stern on stage as well as the favorite “votes” -Guest Bobby McFerrin. Written the singer / songwriter has his songs in a language that he saved over the ocean, in Douala. “The people playing the music the way they speak,” Bona said once. And while he almost casually engages the strings, no electronic processing, in addition to the song here and there but appends small ornamental notes, he remembers no coincidence at Jaco Pastorius’ handed down commitment, he proposed and pluck the bass as if he with the voice games. On his way, the man from Cameroon and reported Pastorius disciples which follows, which with him always a floating lightness is paramount. “M’Bemba Mama” takes the in Riehen softly, but even more “Diba La Bobe”, in which it holds hardly anyone in the square.

– Annette Mahro