Splendors of Brooklyn

The move-to borough’s expanding scene: on a Saturday night the “creative music community” has a choice of alluring concerts.

Has it happened — Brooklyn become the center of the avant world?
In the newly renovated downstairs little theater of the Brooklyn Central Library, the happy life and genre-defying ouevre of the late genre-defying violinist Leroy Jenkins, influential member of the AACM and co-founder of Meet the Composer was celebrated by ensembles led by tenor Tom Buckner, violinist Tom Choi, pianist Myra Melford (all playing Jenkins’ compositions) and trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith (creating his own) before a sell-out crowd full of other musicians (composer-saxist Henry Threadgill, percussionist-Go! Orchestra leader Adam Rudolph, bassist Lisle Ellis, among others), visual artists, presenters and “creative music” devotees.
At the same time at Issue Project Room just a few blocks away, reedist Marty Ehrlich — another friend of Jenkins’ — was presenting his Four Altos (saxophones, that is). Reedist Ned Rothenberg, who introduced the Jenkins concert, had to scurry off to play in that.
Just around the corner from the library, though, Americanist bluesman Taj Mahal was staging a reunion with his multi-tuba band that included such other of Leroy Jenkins’ colleagues as low horn specialists Bob Stewart and Howard Johnson.
And just the night before, I’d heard Robert Dick, the most innovative flutist ever to invent a glissanding headjoint, with superb improvising bassonist Sara Schoenbeck and deft free-drummer Harris Eisenstadt at a neighborhood Senegalese restaurant, Le Grand Dakar.
Lawrence Douglas “Butch” Morris, avatar of improvised conduction, is curating a series of Wednesdays this month at Barbes, the tiny backroom in Park Slope. Trumpeter John McNeil and saxist Bill McHenry continue their weekly quartet gigs at Bisquit BBQ, while quartets led by pianist Daniel Kelly (whose special project is “duets with ghosts”) and Cuban-born traps drummer Dafnis Prieto performed recently at the Belarusian Church under the auspices of Connections Works’ Brooklyn Wide Open Series (which encourages artists-audience discussions). The Brooklyn Lyceum is presenting two “Sea Chantey Nites,” advertised as “Melville-era Sing Alongs,” on Feb 16 and 23. Extrordinary brass player Taylor Ho Bynum introduces Positive Catastrophe, his new ten-piece ensemble co-led by percussionist Abraham Gomez-Delgado, at the Tea Lounge, another Park Slope hang, on the five Mondays of March.
This is not to say it’s all over for Manhattan, but it is clearly becoming more tenable to stay east of the East River after dark, yet be enlightened. Center of the avant-world no — there is no center in the new real estate reality — but action is picking up.
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  1. Michael says

    you foreigners are always surprised to find out that there is more to nyc the manahattan. many of us in brooklyn still are not happy being absorbed into nyc we liked being independent
    HM: I’m a way-foreigner, ’cause I keep comparing Brooklyn to Chicago, and even for Brooklyn I exist somewhat on the fringe (on one of the fringes), exploring its vast stretches by bike. .. Don’t worry, this redoubt is unlikely to be absorbed (or seduced) by the really cool kids across the river, I’m just pleased whenever there’s a coming together of the relocated, far-flung and seldom seen in my unusual new precincts. Did I mention Brooklyn-native vocalist Shelley Hirsch was at the Jenkin’ celebration and bi-borough music lover Stephanie Stone?

  2. says

    Hi Howard,
    Thanks so much for mentioning our show at Dakar!
    The show was the first of a new series called Infrequent Seams. We’ll be hosting three sets twice monthly. More info at http://www.myspace.com/infrequentseams
    February 22, 2008
    Infrequent Seams at EAT RECORDS
    8 PM Ryan Blotnik Duo
    9 PM Dave Ballou (trumpet), Jason Robinson (saxophone), James Ilgenfritz (bass), Harris Eisenstadt (drums)
    March 7, 2008
    Infrequent Seams at Dakar
    8 PM Jeff Younger (guitar)
    9 PM Dom Minasi (electric guitar) w/ Tomas Ulrich (cello)
    10 PM Lukas Ligeti (balafon), Wu Fei (gu zheng), Julianne Carney (violin), James Ilgenfritz (bass)
    All my best,