Ari Hoenig Trio at the Regatta Bar – Wednesday, January 25, 7:30pm
Ralph Peterson Jr. at Scullers Jazz Café – Thursday, January 26, 8pm
Two superior drummers–a teacher and his former student–lead groups at two of Boston’s premiere jazz rooms this week. Both shows promise top-notch performances by internationally renowned musicians.
Over the last two decades Ari Hoenig has established himself as one of the most commanding and virtuosic percussionists on the NYC jazz scene and around the world through sideman work with Chris Potter, Joshua Redman, Kenny Werner, and Kurt Rosenwinkel, along with his own projects, and an especially dynamic co-led project with bassist Francois Moutin and pianist Jean-Michel Pilc. (Here’s a link to a #TRoS review of Threedom, the trio’s 2011 album on Motema.) Hoenig’s first new recording in five years, The Pauper and the Magician, was released just last week on Aha Records. The album, inspired by a story Hoenig wrote for his two children, is thoroughly imaginative and wide-ranging—a honest and thrilling translation of Hoenig’s signature drumming style to composition and ensemble performance. The album’s promotion video hints at the sense of whimsy that characterizes all the music; its appeal to the younger crowd should not dissuade anyone from diving into the music which balances childlike wonder, compositional skill, and superior musicianship. On The Pauper and the Magician Hoenig sets the stage with a compelling program full of all the twists and turns of a fantastical child’s tale, reveling in the imaginative dialogue it inspires in the first-rate improvisers he assembled for the date.
On Wednesday night here in Boston, Hoenig will be joined by pianist Nitai Hershkovitz and bassist Or Bareket. Judging from past shows, listeners can expect a highly interactive set of originals and jazz standards where familiar melodies are recast and refreshed in new arrangements that render even the most well-known tunes unexpectedly adventurous. As an example, here’s the trio’s take on Duke Ellington’s “Take the Coltrane,” performed at Smalls in NYC:
Berklee professor Ralph Peterson, Jr., is coming off a very successful 2016: his Triangular III, a trio record with Zaccai and Luques Curtis, earned rave reviews; while the newest, Dream Deferred, just released in November, is continuing to gain traction as a late addition to many best-of-2016 lists. That album, which adds to a chorus of recent recordings that reassert the importance of social justice in the jazz world, is the first by one of Peterson’s new projects, Aggregate Prime, featuring Gary Thomas (tenor saxophone), Mark Whitfield (guitar), Kenny Davis (bass), and Vijay Iyer (piano). The record draws its concept from formulating answers to Langston Hughes’s well-known rhetorical question (“What happens to a dream deferred?”) by bringing the bebop of Hughes’s Harlem and the socially conscious protest music of the 1960s that it inspired into the 21st century. This is just the latest effort in a long and renowned career for Peterson: those interested in a bit more of Peterson’s history should look up The Fo’Tet Augmented (Criss Cross, 2004) and Tom Harrell’s Moon Alley (Criss Cross, 1985) on which Peterson is joined by Kenny Garrett and Kenny Barron.
Fostering the careers of younger musicians (including Hoenig’s) as a mentor and bandleader is a role about which Peterson cares deeply. On Thursday he will celebrate part of his legacy as a jazz educator on and off the bandstand, presiding over a reunion of The Duality Perspective, a project released in 2012. Welcoming a group of former students and sidemen from that session who have since developed their own formidable resumes as leaders and bandmates to some of the finest musicians in the jazz world—including Sean Jones (trumpet), Tia Fuller and Walter Smith III (saxophones), Victor Gould (piano), and Alex Toth (bass)—Peterson will lead an ensemble on a night of exciting, hard-swinging original music at Scullers Jazz Café. When it was released, TDP garnered much well-deserved positive press for its updated take on bop traditions, rich arrangements, and high caliber improvisation. This Thursday night’s show will offer Boston audiences a chance to hear the continued development of the project’s musicians as they revisit the repertoire with fresh perspectives. For a more in-depth preview of TDP, check out this episode of The Pace Report that includes an interview with Peterson and clips from the record release at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola in NYC.