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Five Shows in Five Days (3)

Artist: Orrin Evans and the Captain Black Big Band
Date: October 6, 2013
Venue: Dizzy's Coca Cola, New York, New York

TROMBONES: David Gibson (lead), Stafford Hunter, Brent White
TRUMPETS: Josh Lawrence, Thomas Marriott
SAXOPHONES: Todd Bashore (lead), Tim Green, Marcus Strickland, Troy Roberts, Mark Allen
BASS: Luques Curtis
DRUMS: Nasheet Waits
PIANO: Orrin Evans

First off I gotta come clean: I love me some big band music. For some reason, modern recordings of big bands often don't do it for me, but hearing a big band live sends me. I don't know why this is. Nowadays you can put a microphone on every cymbal, snare drum, and instrument in the band, but in the old days, they would probably just dangle one microphone from the ceiling and that would be it. So why do I like the old recordings better? I can't answer that. Anyhoo, this happenin' big band performed original interpretations of the music of Sun Ra, called the "Sun Ra Suite," in celebration of what would have been Sun Ra's 100th birthday.

The band, dressed in suits (with the exception of the rhythm section), marched in behind one of the trumpet players, who was blowing on a conch shell. Then the rhythm section came in, wearing long robes. "Space is the place" was the theme; it was a sort of chanted mantra accompanied by dissonant music in the first section of the suite. But little-by-little the dissonance morphed into a sweetly "Ellingtonian," (that's the adjective) middle section. Throughout the evening the musicians sang and shouted, when called for by the score. There were parts when we would all clap on four, or on two and four.

Nearly every player in the band was featured at some point, and they were all excellent soloists. Lead alto and arranger Todd Bashore plays like Cannonball Adderley. Marcus Strickland was great ... but really everybody was good. The bari sax player was the last to solo, and the truth is that I was wondering whether he would get a solo at all. At the end they paraded through the whole room, in a long snake of a line. It was very cool.

The venue is pretty cool. Located on Columbus Circle at the southwestern corner of Central Park, there are huge windows behind the bandstand through which you can see the midtown skyline. It makes that seventeen-dollar cocktail worth it.




April 2019



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