Ron Carter, Donald Harrison, Billy Cobham at the Blue Note Club

This entry was posted on 6.03.2011

Ron Carter

Ron Carter, Donald Harrison and Billy Cobham at the Blue Note - photo: Michele Stork

I’ve always been curious about visiting the Blue Note Club – the world’s famous jazz club which we pass fairly regular in the West Village. Friday finally was the night to go: Ron Carter, the illustrious bass player who has recorded extensively with Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock and on his own, played there together with Donald Harrison and Billy Cobham. The trio already had done a live album together at the Blue Note. And since Michele had been working with Ron Carter, we even enjoyed being on the list.

The Blue Note Club of course was different than I imagined – excuse my naïvety. The owners sure know how to fill the place to the max. In fact the place was so full that night that even the Japanese guys at the table next to us found it tight. And I had to battle with the odor of fish the couple next to us ate.

Now that’s another thing I need to get used to (or maybe not) – I like intense shows. My favorite jazz concert moment was when Ornette Coleman played an open-air show at Schloss Neuhardenberg. Just before the encore, heavy rain came down on the listeners. Everybody was sitting on benches before, there was a five meter gap between artists and audience. But when the rain started, people stood up and gathered in front of the stage (the only place with a little bit of a roof). And Coleman started an intense version of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean”.

Eating while listening is a bit of an antagonism of intensity – it can degrade music to a background soundtrack. And yes, I should be aware of this when I see a show at the Blue Note, and no I still haven’t made it to John Zorn’s jazz club “The Stone” in Alphabet City where they don’t sell any refreshments.

All my comments about the Blue Note aside – the show itself was awesome. I am not going to embarrass myself by writing a review about a jazz show – I still feel like I’ve just started listening to jazz, so my remarks wouldn’t be well grounded. The gig started with “Nutty” by Thelonious Monk, a track even occasional jazz listeners might know and which leaves a lot of open space for solos.

All three musicians used that chance: Donald Harrison sure knows how to play the saxophone, melodic and powerful at the same time. Billy Cobham remained a bit in the background, but left no doubt how great he is as a drummer. Ron Carter’s greatest moment came when he played one of his own tracks – starting so quiet, you might think he is tuning his bass. It grabs one’s attention, and then you realize you are in the middle of a tune.

The trio played around half a dozen tracks at the show. Miles Davis’ “Seven Steps To Heaven” followed (Ron Carter played on the original), so did “Rachel Loves Sidney” – a track Harrison wrote for Jonathan Demme’s feature “Rachel Getting Married“. The soundtrack with performances by TV On The Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe or Angela McCluskey must be awesome, but within the Harrison / Carter / Cobham set it was one of my least favorite tracks. It was just too nice.

The last tune was quite the opposite. A stomping, rocking track with a simple three note bass chord that pushed the song forward. I have no title information about this song, but I hope to find out once the cd was released. All the shows the trio played in this weeklong Blue Note appearance have been recorded as a follow-up release to 2005′s “New York Cool.”

“New York Cool” on Amazon.com

New York Cool-Live at the Blue Note bei amazon.de

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