Bizingas Live at Barbes (26 Jun 2013)

No comments

I have been looking for an opportunity to hear this band play live for quite some time because of how much fun these musicians, led by Brian Drye (trombone, piano, keyboards), sound like they have on record (check out their 2010 self-titled release on NCM East). The band also includes Kirk Knuffke (cornet), Jonathan Goldberger (guitar), and Ches Smith (drums). In their first public performance in over a year, Bizingas played six originals at Barbes on Wednesday night. This group has an amazing ability to swing while incorporating a plethora of free elements into the compositions and improvisational sections of the songs.

The bookends of the show–the extended opening piece with a “medley” feel and the final song–were the most engaging songs of the concert. The first piece featured a bold introduction with exhilarating chemistry between all four musicians. One of the hallmark features of Drye’s compositions is the ample room he provides his musicians for solos and also occasional duets that play to the strengths of the band. The opening number indeed featured a brilliant solo by Knuffke that merged into a vibrant duet with Goldberger and eventually morphed into a driving solo by Drye. From the opening number, the music oscillated between tight togetherness and free improvised moments–the two halves of the greater whole fit together and even propelled each other by giving balance to the overall feel of the music. From the ecstatic moments of free playing, Drye’s songs always seem to find some satisfactory, unifying conclusion.

The second piece, a ballad, featured Drye swinging through a tight, well-orchestrated solo. The song contained no melodrama or bland repetition that can sometimes creep into the melodic expression of jazz horns and was unpredictable, yet driving. The fifth piece, titled “Plant-based” explored a number of interesting rhythmic interactions between guitarist and percussionist, with Knuffke and Drye adding color to produce an oceanic, abyssal sound that ranged from deep mellow to exclamatory dissolution. The emotional breadth and depth of the music are among its hallmarks.

The closing number was a tour de force–the most tightly-orchestrated composition of the night. The piece finally featured Smith, whose impressive talents seemed to be smoldering under the surface for much of the evening, here unleashed as he propelled the sophisticated, complex, and driving song to conclusion.

Bizingas next plays at Korzo on Tuesday evening (2 July)–get out and see this band develop its new set of songs before going into the studio to record in July. Then, we hope, a tour will bring this music to a broader audience of jazz and creative music enthusiasts.

Cisco BradleyBizingas Live at Barbes (26 Jun 2013)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *