Archive for McCoy Tyner

Sonny Fortune Live At Sistas

Posted in Music Reviews with tags , , , , , , on November 15, 2009 by playthell

Randolph, Dubois and Sistas Place 241 

All Soul!

The absence of a piano left a lot of room for Sonny to play, and his improvisations grew more complex because of it.  Although one never knows how artistic decisions are made by band leaders in these economically difficult times – maybe he doesn’t hear a piano or maybe he just can’t afford another cat on the gig.  In any case it has worked out well for sonny because his playing is full of imagination and complex manipulations of melody and harmony, all invented at the speed of thought.   Sonny is in good voice tonight in terms of the lyricism, pathos and bathos in his sound.   And he is one of the few great alto-saxophonists in the post Bird/cannonball/Stitt era who actually has his own sound – which is some sort of miracle considering what those past masters achieved on the instrument.

As I write he is anointing the audience with his interpretation of Duke Ellington’s moving tone poem ‘In a sentimental mood.”  His offering is greeted with love and laughter because this is a straight ahead jazz crowd and they know and observe the etiquette of the proper jazz audience.   They sighed in the right intervals, and applauded each instrumental offering vigorously. 

As I write he is anointing the audience with his interpretation of Duke Ellington’s moving tone poem ‘In a sentimental mood.”  His offering is greeted with love and laughter because this is a straight ahead jazz crowd and they know and observe the etiquette of the proper jazz audience.   They sighed in the right intervals, and applauded each instrumental offering vigorously. 

 Bottom Swing!

Randolph, Dubois and Sistas Place 201

Walking The Bull Fiddle and Making it Swing

 As with all serious jazz ensembles virtuosity is demanded of every player; this is ensemble playing at its best, when unity is achieved in the midst of great diversity.  They are all improvising and creating complex musical statements.  For one thing it requires that the instrumentalists really listen to each other:  For they must play as one.  Bassist Steve Williams and Drummer Steve Johns created a seamless web of rhythm.  Williams is a complete bassist, and excellent accompanists and soloist, which is no picayune feat on that large and somewhat awkward instrument.  On “Kind Of Blue” Miles’ anthem to sophisticated city blues, Williams demonstrated how deep is the well from which his art is formed.

Real Jazz Lovers!

Randolph, Dubois and Sistas Place 204 Barbara and John

Sonny’s tender though passionate rendition of Sentimental mood was followed by an explosive rendition of John Coltrane’s mystic hard driving “Impressions.”  Although this composition is Usually the province of the heaver tenor sax sound, Sonny pulled it off admirably because he has a big sound on the alto and once played tenor with his Philly home boy McCoy Tyner, who had greatly influenced the sound of John Coltrane during the vintage quartet years. Although Sonny is a natural alto-player he adapted quickly, and beautifully, to the tenor and soprano saxophones.  In effect he was holding down the departed maestro’s chair.  This was a singular honor that would have been jumped on by any tenor player in the world who was not themselves a bandleader. 

 On this tune we got a chance to witness the virtuosity of the drummer and bassist.  The drummer is a swinging machine who has mastered the art of polyrhythmic playing.  He is an electrifying soloist with great dynamics and can radically change the mood and colors of the tunes by the way he swings.  And it don’t mean a think if it ain’t got that swing!

 Swingmeister!

 Randolph, Dubois and Sistas Place 230

 The Engine Of The Band

 

Sistas Is The Kind of Club Musicians Love!!

 Randolph, Dubois and Sistas Place 222Sonny Fortune, Playthell and Rene McClean

 Groovin High With Two Great Saxophonists

 

The ideal Jazz audience is one who is knowledgeable about the music, pays close attention to the performance, applauds at the proper time, and enthusiatically show their love at the end of the set.  This is an apt description of the audience at Sistas, located right in the heart of Bed Stuy, which is composed of jazz devotees who know their stuff, and are not shy about showing their love.  As I write my final lines Sonny is singing a romantic rendition of Autumn In New York.  And it was all good!

 Ms. Vernell Reflects the Joy of the Music!

 Randolph, Dubois and Sistas Place 247

In the Sunshine of her Beautiful Smile

 

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* To see sonny Live, click this link:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfrszEyHR9M

 

* Text and Photos by:

Playthell Benjamin

Harlem New York

November 15, 2009

 

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