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Five Shows in Five Days (2)

Artist: Jimmy Greene Quartet
Date: October 5, 2013
Venue: Smoke, New York, New York

Jimmy Greene (ts, ss)
Renee Rosnes (p)
John Patitucci (b)
Jeff “Tain” Watts (d)

This was another great night of music. It was my first night in New York, and I got a little confused using the subway to get to the gig. I got on a train going the wrong way and found myself in Queens. I was quick to realize my error and was soon headed in the right direction. In all, from midtown it probably took me 35 to 40 minutes to make it to West 105th Street, where this club is, but fortunately I was there on time (10:15 – 15 minutes before show time). They seated me at the very end of the bar (near the musicians, not the door), so I could listen to Greene maybe seven or eight feet away. I drank a couple of Manhattans, which was my drink of choice during this trip. The first with rye, the way I usually like it; the second, a house specialty with Makers Mark (for Mark).

I think that Greene is in the “Coltrane” tradition of sax blowers. I’m not sure what that means, but his style is exuberant and extroverted, in the style of John Coltrane; rather than introverted and introspective, in the style of Ravi Coltrane. I enjoyed his playing, both on tenor and on soprano … and I confess to not being a big fan of soprano sax. When he wasn’t playing, he would smile, and nod approval, eyes closed.

I have to talk about the drumming of Jeff “Tain” Watts, one of the loudest jazz drummers I’ve heard. This is not a criticism, it’s just that in his dynamic palette, loud plays a big part … alongside quiet and medium-loud. Wearing both a tie and a cap, you could tell he was enjoying himself (by his constant smile), as he propelled the band forward with his relentless swing. A lot of the numbers would start mellow and build in intensity. On bass, John Patitucci would lock into a figure, freeing up Watts on the kit. “Last Summer” and “Seven Candles” were a couple of Greene’s original tunes they did. Patitucci is one of those bassists who can’t help but make faces as they play. I like that.

Greene played a tune dedicated to his daughter, who was killed in the massacre in Sandy Hook, CT. I only realized this fact a week after I had seen the show.

They played only one cover, Cole Porter’s “I Love You,” to bring the set to a close. The way he messed with the bar lines in stating the head, it would have been hard to identify if he hadn’t announced the title beforehand. I couldn't help but thank that as Greene soloed he was channeling Eddie Harris, while Patitucci and Renne Rosnes backed him with a crazy-weird fugal figure and Watts, ever smiling, drummed away.

When the gig was over, Greene pulled out his checkbook, and wrote out checks to the other players. I couldn’t help but think of my friend (awesome sax player) Tyler, dividing up the tip money after the gig.




June 2019



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