Being in the creative and re-creative moment with four virtuoso players is a gift no matter what the weather is like, but being in the company of that much warmth on a frigid first of February is memorable.
With Steve Allee at the piano, Dick Sisto on vibes, Frank Smith on bass and Jason Tieman on drums, we absorbed nine pieces coming alive through collective artistry. Opening with a nod to the blues, the foursome took off from Sisto's lead and that's how it was throughout the 9:30 p.m. set, with Sisto thrusting charts onto stands for a "Friday Night Live" nod to the greats and their descendants.
Allee infuses his "Conversation" with Bill with the quiet voice of Bill Evans then spins to rapid repartee between the four instruments. Allee's highly visual "Zebra Dreams" builds drama through interweaving of players. Reminiscing started slow and easy with calls and answers and reflective piano runs. Isham Jones' 1936 standard "There is No Greater Love" exploded with fun as each player took us into overlapping set of spheres for a whirlwind tour of everything fine about being in this place at this time in the company of people spanning seventy-five years. The 1950s "All the Way" started with Allee doodling, Sisto, Smith and Tieman in readiness to take up the dreamy mood for a unified heartbeat. Bricusse and Newley's "Who Can I Turn To" was writ achingly lovely as vibes and piano built upon each other, bass and drums echoing emotions, happily bringing to mind Wynton Marsalis' 1981 breakthrough recording.
With vibes and piano runs supported by bass and drums, Ellington's 99 percent synthesis of jazz and classical slowed us down to think about who we are, how we move together to get things right. And then the magical time was over with Billy Srayhorn's luscious UMMG ["Upper Manhattan Medical Group"] ensemble piece, its undercurrent whisperings building to the big finish.
Watch for a new recording by Allee, Sisto, Tieman and bassist Jeremy Allen. Allee promises that will be followed by recordings of the sacred music of Ellington, Strayhorn and John Coltrane.
If you're within range of WFPK Louisville tune in Sundays at 11 a.m. for Sisto's "Inner Ear: what to listen for in jazz" show. And, just so you know it's not just music in the Allee family, NUVO stopped by First Friday at the Harrison Center to chat with Brian Allee about "Relit," his new work in The City Gallery.
[A+E] Festivals + Parties, DJs + Dancing
[Food+Drink] Dining Out, Jazz + Blues + R&B
[Music] Jazz + Blues + R&B
[Music] DJs + Dancing