Outrageous, explosive, pounding piano

THE ZINC BAR, NYC — Eric Lewis opens by obscenely dissing jazz great Keith Jarrett. Then he reaches INSIDE the piano to bang, scrape, and pluck the strings. Lewis opens with a shocker: “The thing about Keith Jarrett is that, like a lot of those other guys, they do a lot of creative stuff, but…

Bobby Bryan’s prison days, blues nights

TERRA BLUES, NYC —  Bobby Bryan counsels convicted teenage felons at the Rikers Island prison during the day. At night, he sings the blues. Makes sense, right? But Bobby’s blues have a decided upbeat vibe because Bobby’s outlook on life, despite what he deals with every day, is decidedly upbeat. And it’s clear he’s having a…

Matt Pavolka’s super intense Horn Band

SMALLS JAZZ CLUB, NYC — For a very mild-mannered guy, Matt Pavolka writes some pretty intense music. And his band members, also very easy-going between sets, play with  equal intensity and passion, producing sounds that provoked lots of audible “wows” in the audience. When these guys play, they command the complete attention of their audience.   Matt’s…

Quintessential blues guitarist SaRon Crenshaw

TERRA BLUES, NYC — Half of the crowd at Terra Blues usually listens to the musicians, and half the crowd, the chatty folks around the bar, don’t. Not for SaRon Crenshaw. When SaRon played, everyone listened. The man is a genius. He is the quintessential blues guitarist: deep, soulful voice; exquisite guitar-picking skills; insightful, often funny…

Misha Piatigorsky’s kinetic jazz piano

ZINC BAR, NYC —  When the pianist explodes off his bench, punctuating the air with his fist, rocks back and forth, tosses his head, rockets over the keyboard, and grins from ear to ear at his band members, it’s a safe bet you’re in for a visual and musical treat. And  all that happened during the…

Chris Norton’s shtick is sizzling horn & swiveling body

ROXY BAR, NYC — I’ve rarely seen anyone who puts his entire body into the performance of jazz the way Chris Norton does. Beyond his exquisite and expressive horn play, Chris swings and twists his body to emphasize every word and bring the joy of musical expression alive. He clearly enjoys entertaining and feels every…

Stan Rubin’s Tigertown 5 w/Barry Bryson rock Dixieland

ZINC BAR, NYC — The New York City music scene really can be a small place. When I walked into the Zinc Bar, the band leader and I looked at each other as if we knew each other. And we did! Barry Bryson, the electrifying trumpet player and Louis Armstrong “channeler” extraordinaire, had welcomed me to…

Robert Powers, a blues legend, shows why at Terra Blues

TERRA BLUES, NYC — Playing the blues has to come from the soul. There is no room for artifice or ego or flamboyance. It’s story-telling, sorrow, humor, hard-times and good times. It can be imitated, but fakers just don’t resonate. Robert Powers is the real thing, and it’s clear his many Grammy nominations have been well-earned….

Felix Slim: New Orleans sound, but new to NYC from Spain

ROCKWOOD HALL, NYC: How can you not like a guy who opens by proudly saying this is his first solo gig in New York City, and thanking all four people at the Rockwood Music Hall’s Stage One for coming to his 7:30 PM show! Then Felix Slim wowed the “crowd” (which swelled to a dozen or so after an hour)…