A very different but still very enjoyable setting for my second night of jazz in New York City, as I spent the night hearing two bands at Fat Cat. Fat Cat is a very large club, with a mostly young clientele enjoying the large number of pool, ping pong and shuffleboard tables, plus many at tables playing scrabble or chess. And the three dollar cover for all night is amazingly low for NYC. While it is not exactly a "listening room" atmosphere with all that going on, the music area, with its many couches, was comfy and the energy in the room fed into the music.
Check Out Wayne Escoffery's The Only Son of One Recording Session
The band then took on Dexter Gordon's line, "Cheesecake," at a more relaxed tempo than I usually hear for that piece, but the tempo was turned up on Escoffery's solo, which was more Coltranish than Dexterian. On "Just Friends," a tenor player from Italy (the only name I got was Carlo) sat in. He had more legato phrasing than Escoffery, and showed a hint of Getz in his playing. But I greatly preferred Escoffery here, with use of repeated figures being explored at length, punctuated by high note bursts. On the other end of the scale, Rothbard mostly explored the low end of the guitar in his solo. The set closed with the old Miles Davis set closer, "The Theme," with powerful drumming for Cox and walking from Archer on bass. The tune was way up tempo, but they halved the time for the first part of Escoffery's solo, which was very effective. Overall, a very fine, very swinging set grounded in early '60s hard bop but with nice modernist touches, especially from Escoffery, whose new CD, The Only Son of One, is highly recommended, and has been a fixture in recent weeks of Jazz in the Night on Kansas Public Radio.
This was no-hold-barred, high-intensity jazz drawn from the late '60s book of the Miles Davis Quintet, just before Miles went electric but during a period when the music became much more fervid than in the earlier years of the quintet. It was high energy from the git-go, with all the tunes linked by short transitions, from "I have a Dream" to "Black Comedy" to Wayne Shorter's classic "Paraphernalia." Weiss played jabbing, short bursts of trumpet, but with more of a Hubbard than a Miles sound. Felder introduced an electric edge, or maybe an electric spectrum, with some effects laden guitar and incredibly fast passages mixed with power chords. The rhythm section was churning and rather relentless. It's hard for me to really analyze all of this - it was music that was great to witness live, with a high level of intensity and virtousity, but it all began to blend into one large wall of sound without a lot of variety. I both appreciated and enjoyed it, but felt rather exhausted by the end of the evening.