New York Music Daily

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Category: review

A Colorful, Auspiciously Acerbic Debut Collection From Composer Gilbert Galindo

Not only is composer Gilbert Galindo’s debut album Terrestrial Journeys – streaming at Bandcamp – full of color and humor and vivid, edgy ideas: he’s also assembled a fantastic crew of New York new-classical types to play these compositions.

The opening track is Spunk, a lively, coyly dancing tune with tricky tempo changes, bursting staccato, understatedly clever counterpoint and a deft use of space. Dan Lippel‘s guitar adds a tantalizingly biting, gritty, slightly revertoned edge behind Clara Kim’s sailing violin solo. Jeff Hudgins’ crystalline alto sax cedes to a similarly all-too-brief solo from bassist Gregory Chudzik; the long quote as they reach the end is too good to give away.

Kathleen Supové‘s portentous Day in the Life piano chord opens Echoes of the Divine, Clare Monfredo’s distantly Indian-tinged cello joined by high harmonics from violinists Giancarlo Latta and violist Maren Rothfritz. Galindo packs a lot into almost fifteen minutes. Delicately stalactite droplets and the occasional raptured chord from the piano fill out the layered loops and slow, tectonically shifting textures from the strings, for a striking yet hypnotic contrast. Stately swells lead to a fleeting, warmly Romantic hint of a coda from Supové, bittersweet viola over sparse stillness, a moment of agitation and allusions to Messiaen before the composer reaches to complete the circle.

A brief, colorful, suspensefully pulsing overture, Let’s Begin features the Argus Quartet: all of the aforementioned string players minus Chudzik. Latta plays Though Your Footsteps Were Unseen, a brief diptych for solo violin, taking his time with simple, drifting chords and keening atmospheric harmonics when not pouncing through some devious poltergeist riffs.

Virtuoso clarinetist Thomas Piercy takes a rare turn on bass model in Lost in the Caves, a light touch of electronic reverb enhancing his tightly clustering, energetic, wary phrasing, with an animatedly conversational passage but also moments of surprising calm.

The trio of Kim, Monfredo and Supové tackle Imagined Passions, the three voices disengaged sufficiently to fuel a moody, wary, sometimes wispy disconnect with strong Messiaen echoes. This kind of passion could become deadly in a split second. Supové’s balance of lefthand murk beneath an icy stroll is striking, through a frequently disquieting gallery walk that becomes more of a shivery funhouse mirror.

She plays solo in My Soul Waits: this one’s full of some serious suspense and otherworldly, bell-like upper register along with anxious concentric riffs. Iktus Percussion take over for the concluding triptych, Not the Light, But the Fire That Burns, Supové joined by Chris Graham and Sean Statser. That coldly starry piano glitters in tandem with similarly eerie bells and bowed vibraphone throughout part one, The Glow That Flickers. Understatedly savage gongs and lows figure in part two, Deep Blue. The conclusion, Burn! has broodingly romping low-register in ratcheting syncopation from Supové, whiplash metallic drums amid menacingly echoey ambience. This is an unusual and often unselfconsciously profound collection of new classical music: let’s hope we hear more from Galindo sooner than later.

Among the artists on the record, the Argus Quartet have are ahead of everyone else in terms of upcoming concerts. Their next one is with pianist Steven Beck, playing play the New York premieres of Michael Shapiro’s Yiddish Quartet and Piano Quintet at Bargemusic on April 30 at 8 PM. Cover is steep, $35, but word on the street is that Shapiro’s new material is worth it.


Simon Leach Plays a Stunningly Modulated Organ Recital at St. Patrick’s Cathedral

It’s good to have the mostly-weekly series of organ concerts at St. Patrick’s Cathedral back again. It took a long time for the church to complete the renovations on the organ there, but in the couple of years leading up to the 2020 lockdown, there were some memorable concerts in that space. Yesterday’s performance, by Simon Leach, was a rewarding continuation of that tradition.

He opened by premiering The Call to Care for Creation, by his wife Helen Leach. It was a shapeshifting, dynamic, sometimes rippling, sometimes strikingly anthemic piece in the Romantic tradition, with a precise, triumphantly spiraling coda

Next he tackled Bach’s Pièce d’Orgue, BWV 572, rising quickly from a lilting, understated introduction to a literally imperceptible build into a resolute, similarly subtle yet powerful forward drive, a march arising from a single casual stroll. Leach continued with an unrelenting power and a sleekly turbulent, impeccably modulated conclusion.

Taken out of context, the Cantabile from Franck’s Trois Pièces pour Grand Orgue was an airy and persistently uneasy change of pace. Where Leach had pursued the preceding piece relentlessly, he pulled back on the reins and let the wistfully wafting, often bittersweet passages in this one speak for themselves.

He closed by launching with a bang into a stampeding take of Dupré’s Prelude & Fugue in B Major, from his Trois Préludes et Fugues, Op. 7. Rapidfire lefthand/righthand fugal moments quickly gave way to concise, brightly translucent chordal riffage, Just as he had done with the Bach, Leach found the piece’s internal swing and rode that with a sine-wave consistency and clarity, at least where the composer’s rhythm was steady. When it wasn’t, he parsed the dynamics for a mutedly cheery chorale before elevating to a clenched-teeth, stabbing intensity.

The next organ concert at St. Patrick’s is April 30 at 3:15 PM, with Clayton Roberts in the console playing works by Bach, Dupre, and David N. Johnson. Admission is free. The sonic sweet spot is in the center pews about three quarters of the way toward the back of the church, where you can watch on one of several video screens.


Bongzilla Put Smoke in the Water in Greenpoint

The good news for NYC heavy rock fans is that St. Vitus is open again. The bad news is that there’s been a big bump in the cover charge, as you would expect from any club that passes the fees from online ticket middlemen on to their customers like the pizza places that use Uber Eats. So the twinbill with the thrash/spacerock/postrock hybrid Wizard Rifle and stoner riffmeisters Bongzilla will set you back $27. There are other acts on the bill, but these are the ones really worth coming out for, and the quality justifies the price.

The album at the top of Bongzilla’s Bandcamp page is an old one that goes back to 2008. It’s the band’s tantalizingly short, complete set from one of the Relapse Contamination Festivals: a lot of bands made live albums there and this is one of the best. Bongzilla are a riff band and don’t do much in the way of solos: the band name fits their immersive intensity.

Mike Henry’s drums punch up and then puncture Jeff Schultz’s wall of guitar fuzz until just a hint of an evil doom riff appears in the first song of the set, Gateway. Then the band hit a slo-mo gallop and run that simple heavy blues hook over and over.

Their second song, Stone a Pig isn’t as sludgy as you would expect from a 3rd gen Sabbath tune, thanks to Henry’s nimble drumming and the grit on the bass – if memory serves right, Cooter Brown held down that spot in the band at the time. His woozy where-did-that-come-from bass breakdown is there to fake you out and set you up for the roar that follows, through some unexpectedly tricky changes.

Methodical heavy blues riffs and an unpredictable series of tempo changes also feature heavily in their third song, Hashdealer and the closing cut, Keefmaster. This slow-burning blast from the past is another reminder that more bands should make live records.

And for a similarly riff-loaded, tuneful idea of what’s in store for the show, check out Wizard Rifle’s more texturally diverse, rhythmically tricky, thrashy most recent album from 2019.

Miwa Gemini Brings Her Darkly Surreal Narratives and Southwestern Gothic Tinged Sounds to the South Slope

This blog has called songwriter Miwa Gemini “sort of the missing link between Shonen Knife and Calexico.” The Japan-born, Brooklyn-based singer and multi-instrumentalist is one of the most unique tunesmiths to emerge from this city in the past several years. She populates her songs with quirky characters she calls “muses.” She got her start as a member of well-loved all-female accordion ensemble the Main Squeeze Orchestra. Since New York venues emerged from lockdown hell, she’s returned to playing with a rotating cast of supporting musicians. Her next gig is on April 29 at 4 PM at Freddy’s with a three-piece unit including Shoko Morikawa and taiko drummer/pianist Midori Larsen.

Miwa Gemini’s latest album Will I Fly – streaming at Bandcamp – was one of the innumerable great records that got lost in the ugly early days of the 2020 lockdown and sank without a trace. Gemini can be poignant one moment and ridiculously funny the next, sometimes in the same song. The music is on the brooding side, although there are many lighter moments. It’s a full-band record with rhythm section, layers of guitar, banjo and horns in places.

She opens with the title track. It’s a bristling mix of lickety-split, banjo-driven punkgrass and phantasmagorical circus rock with oompah horns. “I wonder if I fall. will I be free,” Gemini muses. The song may refer to the wirewalker Miss Scarlet, who plays a major role in the album’s sixth song.

Layers of sunny, jangly guitars mingle with the banjo in the slowly swaying, soul-infused second cut, Hattie’s Love Story. Gemini switches to her native language for the aptly titled Japanese Song, a lilting waltz with lingering spaghetti western guitar, accordion and a big, anthemic chorus: “The end is near…it’s just a beginning, it’s just a beginning.”

The banjo takes centerstage again in On the Road, a scrambling, Tom Waits-ish Kerouac homage spiced with oldtimey clarinet. The closest thing here to standard-issue indie rock here is Hard Time, a funny tune about the goofy things couples fight over.

Gemini goes back to a steady, somberly strolling klezmer-tinged atmosphere for Miss Scarlet and Zoe, a surreal tale of a circus elephant who’s in love with a cute trapeze girl. Butterfly, a delicate waltz, continues the narrative, a lingering mashup of moody southwestern gothic rock and Japanese folk.

Marching is Miwa Gemini’s Pink Panther theme, a coyly misterioso strut that brings to mind Brooklyn underground legends Kotorino. She goes back to waltz time for Sleepless Night, a warmly lush, catchy number that could be Rachelle Garniez with a Japanese accent.

The band hit a pulsing, slinky Nancy Sinatra noir groove for Jockey Full of Bourbon: it’s the most evocative and arguably best song on the album. Paris, a wistful, balmy waltz, is just as picturesque, with glockenspiel tinkling uneasily up through the wafting accordion and distant, forlorn muted trumpet. Gemini brings the album full circle with Little Monkey, shifting between shadowy, propulsive border rock and an equally menacing waltz.

Gemini also released a vividly melancholy, elegantly fingrpicked acoustic single, Snow Over Brooklyn, in 2021.

Timbalero Tito Rodríguez Jr. Celebrates His Iconic Salsa Bandleader Dad’s Legacy of Party Music at Lincoln Center

This past evening, veteran bandleader and percussionist Tito Rodríguez Jr. led his thirteen-piece band at the Lincoln Center atrium, in a celebration of the centennial of his late father’s birth. It was the younger Rodriguez’s first time time here since 2019, when the long-running, mostly-monthly series of salsa concerts ground to a halt before Christmas, and were then stalled out by a big water main break on Broadway. We know what happened after that. This show was was billed as a tribute to the Palladium in the mid-50s, where Machito, Tito Puente and the elder Rodríguez held court, reflected in a setlist and an oldschool vibe that would make a dedicated salsa record crate digger’s mouth water.

Rodríguez Jr. played pretty chill on his timbales throughout the show, setting the stage from the first number, spiced with Carmen Laboy’s smoky baritone sax and a straightforward, emphatic piano solo that hit a rumbling peak. They kept the web of rhythms elegantly undulating under the blaze of brass, a six-piece percussion section in front of two trumpets, trombone, the bari sax, piano and bass.

They slunk from carnivalesque hi-de-ho rumba to sunnier territory and then back in the second number, then picking up the pace with a lightly bouncing version of Rodriguez senior’s catchy anthem, Chevere, lit up with the light/dark contrasts of the brass against the baritone. That dynamic would resonate throughout the rest of the night, continuing with a more ramshackle take of Pajaro Lindo.

The singers in the band flirted with a pretty brunette recording video from the front row while the oldsters in the sold-out crowd, many of them from the projects a couple of avenues to the west, swayed and twirled further toward the back. Meanwhile, the orchestra returned to vampy 50s dance-craze call-and-response rumba with another hit, featuring a tantalizingly abbreviated trumpet-and-baritone duel. Kitty-boom, kitty-boom!

Mujer Erotica was next, the band working variations around a stark Dave Brubeck-esque piano riff to close the first set. They opened the second with another retro hit, Mama Guela, then hit a more jazz-inflected, untethered groove with a wry, cynical edge echoed in the sarcastic horn outro. The best song of the night, Bilongo came toward the end of the set, a smoky, Andalucian tinged, chromatically charged anthem. Tumbling minor-key riffage gave way to a couple of cheery two-chord Cuban-flavored numbers to wind up the night.

The next free concert at the Lincoln Center atrium on Broadway south of 63rd is April 27 at 7:30 with a popular return guest, maverick violist and film composer Ljova Zhurbin with his Trio Fadolin and his whole family, including his electrifying singer wife Inna Barmash as well as his parents, Alexander Zhurbin and Irena Ginzburg, who bedeviled the authorities throughout a pretty wild career in the Soviet Union. The classical concerts here don’t sell out as fast as the salsa dance parties, but arriving early couldn’t hurt if you want a seat.

The Catalyst Quartet Release Another Batch of Delicious Rediscoveries

The Catalyst Quartet are in the midst of a herculean project, resurrecting the work of undeservedly obscure Black American composers. At this point in history, it looks like we’ve finally reached the moment where the racist divide-and-conquer originally conceived to justify the slave trade has been pushed back under the rock from which it crawled. So the time has never been more ripe for rediscoveries like these. While the sinister forces who astroturfed CRT and BLM may be doing their best to weaponize the legacy of artists like Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, William Grant Still and George Walker for a different kind of divide-and-conquer, we mustn’t conflate those schemes with the artists. There are so many breathtaking moments in those composers’ music, and nobody knows that better than violinists Abi Fayette and Karla Donehew Perez, violist Paul Laraia and cellist Karlos Rodriguez.

Their next concert is on April 24 at 7:30 PM as part of the monthly Music Mondays free concert series at Advent Church at 93rd and Broadway on the Upper West Side, where they’re playing works by Florence Price as well as new arrangements of old spirituals, and a new setting of Langston Hughes’s poem, Kids Who Die. It’s a neighborhood institution: get there at least fifteen minutes before showtime if you want a seat.

The quartet’s latest record in their ongoing Uncovered series is the third volume – streaming at Spotify – which opens with Perkinson’s succinct three-movement String Quartet No. 1, “Calvary.” He was an interesting guy: a jazz pianist and one of the first Black American symphony orchestra conductors, who also did some memorable arranging for Marvin Gaye in the late 60s. The quartet launch into the allegro first movement with a steely focus, weaving a counterpoint around a terse oldtime gospel-flavored riff. Diffusely reflective figures, in the same vein as the Debussy string quartet, give way and then mingle with a bouncy forward drive fueled by Rodriguez. Perkinson’s subtle rhythmic shifts, up to an almost aching crescendo from the violins, are a treat.

The gospel allusions grow more distant in the adagio second movement, spiced with delicate pizzicato accents, fleeting pauses and a persistent, wistful reflection drifting on the wings of simple echo phrases. The allegro vivace conclusion is exactly that, with a muted, lilting joy that finally swoops down out of the clouds in a jubilant glissando from Fayette. It’s a translucent, fun piece that should be heard more frequently.

Next up is another terse triptych, William Grant Still’s Lyric Quartet. The use of simple, catchy blues-infused phrases and variations is similar to the album’s first piece, the group picking up with a Dvorakian blend of Americana and Eastern European chromatics in the first movement, an otherwise rather wistful portrait of a plantation – one would assume without slaves!

Movement two, a Peruvian mountainscape, is summery and even more minimalistically crafted. The third movement, presumably a portrait of an American pioneer encampment, captures an optimistic bustle as well as some deliciously fleeting chromatics.

The concluding and most challenging piece is the best-known one here, George Walker’s String Quartet No. 1. There’s a vivid, achingly Bartokian quality in the precise chromatics and sudden swells of the first movement. The molto adagio second – often played as a standalone Lyric For Strings – echoes Samuel Barber and gets a rewardingly meticulous, insightfully dynamic interpretation from the ensemble. Stormy striding motives juxtapose against moments of wary reflection in the concluding movement. Like the first two volumes in the Catalyst Quartet’s series, this has as much historical value as it does as sheer sophisticated entertainment.

Lyrical Singers Nefeli Fasouli and Mona Miari Bring Darkly Thoughtful Greek and Palestinian Sounds to the East Village

There’s an intriguing twinbill coming up at Drom on April 26 at 8 PM that will probably slip under the radar outside the two artists’ individual diasporas, but if outside-the-box sounds are your thing, you shouldn’t sleep on it. Palestinian singer Mona Miari and Greek chanteuse Nefeli Fasouli share a searching, tender vocal quality, Miari the more overtly neosoul-influenced of the two. There isn’t much in English about either artist on the web, which puts you in the front of the line if you might be interested in checking them out live. Cover is $25.

Miami, for example, has just a single youtube clip: a lilting mashup of a couple of flamenco and Andalucian folk tunes. Fasouli recorded her album Your World – streaming at Bandcamp – live in the studio sometime before the 2020 global coup d’etat and ended up waiting to release it until June of the following year. It’s a fascinating, often wickedly catchy blend of dusky Greek traditional sounds, psychedelia, European jazz and occasional latin influences from guitarist and main songwriter Fivos Delivorias. Fasouli sings in Greek: her band (uncredited on the Bandcamp page) also features acoustic and electric piano, a rhythm section and occasional horns.

The opening number is Ride, an elegant, gently soaring cosmopolitan jazz tune that rises to a lively charanga atmosphere. She and the band follow with I Don’t Know What It Looks Like, a moody, cumulo-nimbus minor-key rembetiko theme bolstered by looming brass on the low end.

The title track is a poignant, hushed, wary fado-esque ballad set to a spiky interweave of guitar and bouzouki, Then the group dance through The Voice, a spare, bitingly chromatic, icepick electric rembetiko melody, Fasouli rising to an angst-fueled peak

For One Summer, a swaying, catchy rock ballad, wouldn’t have been out of the place as a hit for the Police in the early 80s. Next up is In Acherousia, a bouncy, electrified folk dance tune with clavinova and staccato electric guitar

When You Fall, a pensive minor-key waltz, has terse piano, organ and fiery blues guitar from Delivorias. Organ and electric guitar also figure in I’ll Tell You, a tricky, funkily syncopated party anthem that’s a mashup of Greek folk and LA lowrider latin soul.

Casa Malaparte, a low-key, uneasy, understatedly syncopated piano ballad, pulses along with some dramatic cymbal work. Delivorias takes over the mic for the first verse of the final cut, which translates roughly as Live Onstage and brings the album full circle with a blend of Euro-jazz, lingering nocturnal rembetiko and more than a hint of classic salsa. We so seldom get to hear such an intriguing mix of sounds in New York these days.

Karen Hudson Reinvents a Favorite Linda Ronstadt Album on the Upper West Side

Thursday night at the Triad Theatre, Americana songstress Karen Hudson paid homage to her biggest influence, Linda Ronstadt, with a simmering performance of one of the iconic singer’s more eclectic records, Living in the USA. It was an interesting choice: you might think that someone who was once a thirteen-year-old singing into a hairbrush and noshing on Twinkies while a Ronstadt record spun on the turntable might have picked Heart Like a Wheel, or maybe even Hasten Down the Wind. By contrast, Living in the USA was a departure into harder-rocking territory, hinting at the new wave Ronstadt would flirt with a little later in her career while remaining true to her singer-songwriter roots. Hudson channeled all that while adding a livewire edge.

Seeing her out in front of a first-class band without her trusty acoustic guitar slung over her shoulder was unexpected, but she picked a role that suits her. Lord knows how much she must have practiced it with that hairbrush. “Even though our rock n roll queen has stopped singing, her voice will live on in our hearts,” Hudson asserted.

Appropriately, she was rocking a blue baseball jacket to match Ronstadt’s album cover and inner sleeve photos, switching out the gym shorts for a shimmery black dress. Guitarist Mike Fornatale kicked off the title track playing spot-on, blazing Chuck Berry riffage on his vintage Gibson SG, pedal steel player Glenn Spivack’s sailing lines adding a down-home edge that looked back to Ronstadt’s early 70s work. Meanwhile, bassist Jeff Gordon and drummer Tommy DeVito held the rocket to the rails.

Hudson reached for Ronstadt vibrato for an understated poignancy in a duo with Roth’s echoey, lullaby Rhodes in the second song, When I Grow Too Old to Dream. That’s where the baseball jacket came off and stayed off.

Roth’s first couple of chords hinted at at Warren Zevon hit – but not the one you might think – as the band pounced their way into a version of Just One Look than rocked harder than either the original singer (or Ronstadt, for that matter) probably ever envisioned, Hudson holding down the lead line forcefully beneath Suzanne Hockstein’s soaring high harmonies.

Hudson reinvented Elvis Costello’s Alison as something that would have fit in on his Taking Liberties album, pedal steel mingling with James Noyes’ sax as her phrasing echoed the original more than the Ronstadt version. Introducing a dynamic, gospel organ-driven take of J.D. Souther’s White Rhythm & Blues, Hudson goofed on the audience with a projection of what she thought might be the love child between Ronstadt and Steve Martin, considering that the two had been an item for awhile.

Hudson explained that the first song on side two, All That You Dream, was written by Little Feat’s Paul Barrere and Bill Payne as a reflection on that band’s impending breakup, her vocals matching the keening steel over a steady, flurrying groove.Next, she went deep into the elegant soul-jazz roots of the big radio hit, Ooh Baby Baby, much in the same vein as Karla Rose was singing it five years ago.

The two singers joined voices forcefully for a beefed-up take of Mohammed’s Radio, one of the more memorable Warren Zevon tunes Ronstadt recorded. Likewise, Hudson worked a defiant if heartbroken edge in Blowing Away. She closed the show in an acoustic duo with Fornaatale on an aptly fond version of Love Me Tender.

They stuck with the with the Ronstadt catalog for the first of the encores. Hockstein took over lead vocals on Love Is a Rose, with Hudson on guitar, Fornatale on banjo and Jaden Gladstone on fiddle. Their spirited, oldschool C&W romp through Silver Threads and Golden Needles offered a nod back to Skeeter Davis. The crowd wouldn’t let them go, so they pulled together a deliciously clanging, careening version of the Stones’ Dead Flowers.

Jazz on a Spring Afternoon in the Financial District

It may have been lunchtime, but Winard Harper and Jeli Posse conjured up a hot, crowded Jersey City jazz joint atmosphere at St. Paul’s Chapel downtown earlier today. One of the most evocative, erudite, extrovert drummers around for more than a quarter century thought aloud about how to bottle that energy into a single hour, then said the hell with that and went well over time. The crowd was a lot more sizeable than usual and everybody seemed grateful to stick around.

He kicked off the show with a long, mighty press roll, a big regal cymbal splash, and the band suddenly found themselves in a languid, expressive take of Ellington’s In a Sentimental Mood, fueled by Nick Masters’ expansive piano and Anthony Perez’s tersely percolating bass. Harper immediately felt the room and kept a delicate swing going with his brushes. He had extra rhythm this time out: tapdancer AC Lincoln, plus Gabriel Roxbury on djembe, alongside guitarist Charlie Sigler, who built to a tantalizing flurry in tandem with the bandleader.

Next up was a Harper original, possibly titled Sajda, the drummer getting it rolling with a lively, intricate solo on his balafon, dueling with the tap and djembe rhythms that bounced off the walls. Piano and guitar joined in emphatically and then backed away before the horns – Ted Chubb on trumpet and Anthony Ware on tenor sax -ran a steady, stabbing Afrobeat riff. There was restrained joy in Harper’s solo over a majestically rippling piano backdrop and a devious false ending, winding down to a misterious brook at the end.

The band shifted between cloudbursting High Romantic piano and bluesy swing from the horns in the third number, Cedar Walton’s Holy Land, with a gruff, no-nonsense sax solo while Harper shifted the landing zone around. A bubbling trumpet solo, a tap solo with some artful allusions to what a full drumkit would do, and a determinedly clustering guitar solo fueled a big coda. From there the band swung through a similarly purist, blues-infused piano solo, a brisk, incisive bass solo punctuated by some judiciously juicy chords and then Harper doing his own tap imitation up to a big vortex of beats.

He introduced his old boss Dr. Billy Taylor’s Capricious with a misty clave before the horns supplied a balmy cha-cha, and eventually a carefree conversation as the cymbals steamed up the windows – metaphorically speaking, anyway. Abdullah Ibrahim’s Water From an Ancient Well was next, Harper reminiscing about playing a two-week stand with the pianist at the old Sweet Basil. Masters set a glistening mood, Harper introducing a sotto-voce clave for the horns’ fond harmonies and a soulful, low-key, Sonny Rollins-ish solo from Ware.

They stuck with a latin rhythm but picked up the pace significantly with a racewalking take of a Harper original to wind up the show with blazing sax and trumpet solos, and a lustrously chordal solo from Masters, the bandleader spinning but resisting the urge to knock down the walls. They wound up the afternoon out with a swaying, somewhat muted gospel-infused triumph,

The next jazz concert at St. Paul’s Chapel is April 24 at 1 PM with drummer Jerome Jennings and jazz poet Naomi Extra‘s Get Free Collective; admission is free. And Harper has resumed his weekly Friday and Sunday jazz jams at Moore’s Lounge at 189 Monticello Ave in Jersey City.

Organist Kenneth Corneille Plays Fascinating Baroque Rarities and a 20th Century Showstopper

Earlier today organist Kenneth Corneille played an individualistic program of baroque rarities and a 20th century gem on the magnificently versatile organ at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. First on the bill was Bach’s Fantasia & Fugue in A Minor, BWV 561, which he delivered very uptempo with unusually bright registrations, lightning-fast righthand clusters and practically a sprint in places. It was impressive to hear him play it at this velocity and build a cyclotron of cascades. Adrenalizing, to say the least, and the small crowd who’d come out for the recital loved it. What might have been lost in the stampede is open to interpretation.

Next on the bill were five transcriptions of songs by eighteenth century composer and Notre Dame organist Médéric Corneille (a relation, maybe?). A beefy, striding folk ballad, Brillantes fleurs (Shining Flowers) was next. Dure loi du péché (unpoetic translation: The Penalty For Sin Is Harsh) came across as a steady hymn with flourishes as Sweelinck might have given it, bolstered by extra power on the low end. Number three, titled Grand Dieu (Great God) was a processional with the occasional trilling ornament.

The younger Corneille played Si vous avez beaucoup (If you have a lot) over a stern, catchy pedal figure: it was the most Bach-inflected of the songs. He then switched to more subdued colors for Une éternelle inquiétude (Eternal worry), the most sophisticated of the bunch. subtly building to a flicker of a fugue. And then it was over.

Corneille closed with legendary improviser McNeil Robinson’s 1980 composition, Dismas Variations, opening it like a bulkier, less overtly macabre take on what Jehan Alain did with his Trois Danses. A fiery, portentous rise decayed to airy textures that grew more Messiaenic, Corneille establishing a calm, conversational ambience before another attack-and-lull.

His lickety-split, occasionally dissonant exchanges descended once again into hazy resonance. The conclusion was classic, counteriutuitive Robinson, chuffing rhythmic bursts intermingled within an increasingly enveloping, all-stops-out atmosphere that gave way unexpectedly into tremoloing phantasmagoria and ended completely unresolved.

The next organ concert at St. Patrick’s is on April 23 at 3:15 PM with British organist Simon Leach playing works by his wife Helen Leach as well as Bach, Franck and Dupre. Admission is free: these performances start precisely on time and usually don’t go far beyond the half-hour mark.