Friday, April 20, 2018

Sam Javitch Quartet - People and Places; Seven Tracks of Jazz Artistry From the Piano Playing Composer and Band Leader

Photo courtesy of Sam Javitch

Sam Javitch is a jazz musician and composer who has just released his second album People and Places. The New York City native has been performing jazz since the age of eleven. Sam attended the NYU School for Improvised Music, earned an Honors Bachelor degree in Jazz from William Paterson University, and a Masters in Jazz Performance from the Manhattan School of Music. He has studied with a host of notable jazz pianists including Mulgrew Miller, and he has performed at a wide array of New York area venues.
“I learned how much effort and perseverance it takes to turn a musical idea into a reality. There isn’t some button you can push or a lever to pull, but when it’s done, it is one of the most gratifying feelings in the world.”
In 2014, Javitch released his debut recording, Train to Nowhere, which included six original solo piano compositions. People and Places, his sophomore album, represents his debut as a band leader. The album contains seven new Javitch compositions, performed in a quartet format, with piano, tenor sax, bass, and drums. On Sunday, April 15th, Javitch presented an album launch concert at Joe's Pub in NYC. Watch and listen to the entire show below.

Joe's Pub, NYC, April 15, 2018


1. The Pitch to Rich (7:01)
2. Parallel Modalities for Parallel Realities (9:28)
3. Honin Myo: For Sasha (7:55)
4. Lifted: A Song for Grew and Those Who Knew (8:36)
5. Wiseman Weidman (5:47)
6. New Operating System (7:10)
7. Level Up! (5:55)

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People and Places confirms Javitch as a formidable jazz composer as well as a first rate pianist. His style is warm, I would say more Chick Corea than Keith Jarrett. The compositions are constructed with the main melody at the top and bottom of each piece and the solos in the middle. The lead instruments are piano and sax. On most of the tracks, the sax establishes the melody, and the sax playing is simply superb. I also really like when the sax and piano played the melody together.
Upon hearing Rich Perry play, Javitch envisioned the tenor saxophonist playing his compositions. When Perry agreed to appear on the album, the title to the opening song, “The Pitch To Rich”, was born!

Another stand-out track is “Honin Myo”; an ode to Javitch’s dear friend and practicing Buddhist, Sasha Ono. “Honin Myo” is a phrase that means “from this moment on”. This song speaks to the hope of starting anew each day no matter what adversity one may have faced before. “Parallel Modalites for Parallel Realities” speaks to all the choices we make in life that can lead to completely different paths. People and Places also includes “Lifted: a Song for Grew and Those Who Knew”, a tribute to his late mentor Mulgrew Miller, the great jazz pianist.
All this music is anchored by the more than capable rhythm section of Adrian Moring on bass and Matt Niedbaski on drums. This set seems to subscribe to the theory that less is more when it comes to bass solos and drum solos. I can't disagree, but I would point out that the solos by Moring and Niedbaski are nothing short of excellent.

People and Places by the Sam Javitch Quartet is a solid marriage of quality composition, performance, and production. This album reminds me of some of the classic Art Pepper Quartet sessions with Pepper's sax accompanied by Russ Freeman on piano. To hear traditional jazz that sounds as good as this does is continually rewarding.

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Sunday, April 08, 2018

Svetlana and The Delancey Trio, Golden Gates, Philadelphia, 4/4/2018; Svetlana Sounded Superb in Her Philadelphia Debut

For their Philadelphia debut, Svetlana and The Delancey Trio played a beautiful set at Golden Gates on the evening of Wednesday, April 4th. The ten song set consisted of jazz and swing standards, which were often extended by solos from the excellent band.

Instead of The Delancey Five, Svetlana's road band consisted of two musicians from NYC, Willerm Delisfort on piano and Henry Conerway III on drums, and one from Philadelphia, Nimrod Speaks on upright bass.

The show opened with the band playing "Dolphin Dance," an instrumental composition by Herbie Hancock. After introductions, Svetlana sang a delightful "Just Squeeze Me" written by Duke Ellington.

Watch "Honeysuckle Rose"

Setlist: Click linked titles to watch
01 Dolphin Dance
02 Just Squeeze Me
03 Everybody Loves My Baby (Waller)
04 If I Give My Heart To You (Jacobs, Crane, Brewster)
05 Lady Be Good (Gershwin & Gershwin)
06 You Are Like A Song [in Russian] (Rosner)
07 I Can't Give You Anything But Love (McHugh and Fields)
08 Whatever Lola Wants (Adler and Ross)
09 Centerpiece (Edison and Hendricks)
10 Honeysuckle Rose (Waller)

Two of the songs from the set, "Lady Be Good" and "You Are Like A Song," can be found on Svetlana and The Delancey Five's debut CD, Night at the Speakeasy. It was great to hear the material not on the album, most of which was familiar from singers such as Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn, etc. I knew "Centerpiece" from the Joni Mitchell medley version. The only thing that the set was lacking was Svetlana originals. The two original compositions that she included on her record were fantastic, as were the two new tunes that she premiered last year at her birthday show at Joe's Pub. I'm hoping that she includes "Baby I'm Back" and "Is It You" on her second album, now in the works.

Svetlana and The Delancey Five are well known in NYC where they have played all over town including a long running residency Monday nights at The Back Room (102 Norfolk Street), right off of Delancey. The Back Room is a speakeasy whose operation dates back to Prohibition days.

I'm excited to see them take their show on the road so that the rest of the world can come to know the joy. It was especially nice to see them northeast of Philadelphia at a venue that is known for its special events.

As much as I enjoyed The Delancey Trio, and they were excellent, I just love to hear Svetlana sing. Any time. Any place.

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