“The Point Being” be here now with all you’ve got: Ray Anderson & Sarah Weaver

Trombonist Ray Anderson and composer/conductor Sarah Weaver at Roulette Sarah Weaverlast Sunday hit a collaborative sweet spot. Their unusually mixed, all-star ensemble at Brooklyn’s creative music concert hall wove highly individualized solos into a continuous 50-minute set based on loose, humorous writing and spontaneous textural swells. Bloom Lake Anderson Zollar

Photographer Sánta István Csaba took photos while I just listened — also to the opening piece performed by Slide Ride, the four-man trombone unit in which Anderson takes part.

Soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom, alto saxophonist Oliver Lake, trumpeter James Zollar and Anderson himself each gave emotive meaning to the single tones they  blew and blended to Weaver’s broad hand signals for crescendos, sustains, decrescendos and tone color variations. Pianist Uri Caine employed  aSarah Weaver Uri Caine tremelo-like accompaniment during one of the suite-like piece’s movements, but had a lot of ideas. Throughout, bassist Mark Helias added spine and drummer Gerald Cleaver beat steadily, improvisationally, never overwhelming.

The entire ensemble worked part of the time from sheet music, but in genuine jazz fashion seemed to be creating in the moment — which was the message Anderson vocalized urgently yet with a grin in his poem “The Point Being” — “The james zollar's scorepoint is being/Being is the point. . . ” which flowed somehow out from the united sound of the septet, which had an
orchestral impact. When Weaver waved in spotlight episodes, Lake let loose a stream of wild notes flying to the ceiling and all but breaking through it. Bloom dove into an exploration and extension of one of the dramatic, romantic Ellington ballads. They were exceptional, but it was all good.

There were  clues throughout the performance as to whether Anderson or Weaver was responsible for certain moments of the ensemble’s direction, but I Weaver conducts Cleaverdoubt anyone in the audience was thinking hard about who’d written what, as the entirety unspooled with an unforced grace.

In the quartet Slider Rde, with stellar trombonists Craig Harris, Art Baron and Earl McIntyre besides Anderson each leading the group a piece of their own, the stylistic demarcations were clearer — not that those differences made much difference. The musicians in both concert halves were there to work together by being themselves, in the moment. That was the point.  In jazz-beyond-jazz, it’s always the point.


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  1. says

    Hi Howard,
    Thanks so much for coming and writing and bringing Sánta István Csaba for those great pictures! Much appreciated! I’m so glad you liked it – I did too, and that wasn’t a given; of course we really didn’t know what was gong to happen – rehearsal was minimal and, anyway, risk is crucial! Just one note of clarification: I wrote the “Ellington” ballad. I’m flattered that it fooled you!

    • says

      @Ray thanks for checkin’ in & clarifying that. You’ve got a wondrous ensemble — The breadth of your reference is legendary, your originality and inventiveness a gift to listeners. So this music you’re making, please keep making it! bring it all together, keep doing it.

      And the title of your ballad, please? Is it one one of yr (or Jane’s cd) in some form?

      • says

        Hi Howard,
        Thanks again for your encouragement! It means a lot to me coming from you! I don’t really have a name for the ballad. I have been calling it “The Point Being,” but since that is also the name of the entire 7 movement piece I guess I’ll have to come up with something else. It was written for this collaboration and has never been recorded or, for that matter, heard before the gig at Roulette. We’re trying to get some money to record the whole thing……..