Monday, October 29, 2007

Did I mention the Red Sox won yet? Again!

Okay, now that we have that taken care of, I can pretend to think like a human again. (By happy coincidence, I wandered into a bar on Bowery after my Saturday evening engagement- see below- that was (gasp) a Red Sox bar. So I had friends right off the bat, who all cheered and groaned at the right times. While this post-season was nowhere near as nail-biting as 2004, it certainly had its moments.

Anyhoow, highlights, lowlights and otherlights of this weekend's jaunt to NYC:

The very good- spending time with my blog hero Darcy, hearing a fair bit of the indie-rock that has been so talked about in the blogosphere recently. The recent Arcade Fire disc jumped up my to-buy list as a result. I never run out of friends to see in New York, or leave having a bad time with them.
- lots of time to listen to records in transit, and read. Between train and bus rides I finished Ben Ratliff's new book on Coltrane. I recommend it, and will try to talk more about it soon. (review here, first chapter here)
- New York restaraunts. Dinner at Jellado, brunch at Gasgogne, fantastic coffee at a place in Carrol Gardens whose name I promptly forgot- something about leaves. One could get used to this.

The good- Michael Cain, who is mentioned here occasionally, wrote music for a play at the Public called The View from 151st Street, so I went to see it, naturally. It was a good play, with some exceptional acting and powerful, if uneven writing. The music, which this evening featured Liberty Ellman on guitar, was an interesting mix of live and recorded tracks and sounds, overall very effective. (There was a short, recorded solo piano piece in the middle of the first act that was amazing, reminded me of what took me about Michael's music in the first place) I often thought on the more hip-hop based material that the bass player could've played a fair bit less, but I find myself saying that a lot lately.

The less good- I got in early enough on Friday to trek down to The Stone on Friday night
to see Steve Bernstein and the Millennial Territory Orchestra. I'm not the world's biggest Bernstein or Sex Mob fan, but I've always left his shows entertained. Not tonight. The charts, such as they were, sounded like sloppier, less funky cutouts from Bill Frisell's Unspeakable albums. The one good chart was for a singer (didn't catch the name) who didn't have much of a voice or use the mike well. Some good players- Peter Apflebaum, Ben Allison, Ben Perowsky, Art Baron- were pretty much wasted.

I understand better than many the challenge that is putting a large ensemble show together in any context- there's never enough planning, or rehearsal, or promotion. But here I was embarrassed for the musicians, annoyed at paying even the modest $10 I did, and left before the set ended.

Don't mean to end on a down note, especially when there's so much to look forward to in Boston this week- and not just the Red Sox rolling rally. Caetano Veloso is here Friday, The Bad Plus Friday and Saturday. Full listings tomorrow.

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