Take Five: Miles Okazaki's Trickster, Trio 3, Ella Fitzgerald, Joe Fiedler, John Raymond

Mar 20, 2017

A basket. A box. A notebook. A bumper. Every track in this week's Take Five has a title that evokes some material object, for reasons both comic and constructive. Beyond that commonality, there's a staggering range here, with one recording that's almost 80 years old and one or two others that sound like the near future. 

Miles Okazaki, “Box in a Box”

There isn’t a rhythmic matrix or harmonic enigma that falls outside the realm of comprehension for guitarist-composer Miles Okazaki. Trickster — his beguiling new quartet album, due out on Pi Recordings this Friday — contains a series of formal provocations inspired by folkloric tales of deception and cunning. “Box in a Box,” for instance, plays on the Native American myth of a raven with a series of nesting boxes; its structure mimics that image with a syncopated rhythmic loop and a recursive melody that pulls against the current, shifting in and out of sync. Okazaki has had a prominent affiliation over the last decade with Steve Coleman and Five Elements, whose rhythm team — Anthony Tidd on electric bass, Sean Rickman on drums — forms an engine here. Craig Taborn, who rounds out the group on piano, delivers a smart improvisation over the theme, working with a splintery attack and tight chromatic frictions. — Nate Chinen

Trio 3, “Bumper”

Trio 3: Oliver Lake, Reggie Workman and Andrew Cyrille, at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola in 2016.
Credit John Rogers

It’s an enduring mystery: the weight of notes played by legendary artists only accrues gravitas as they grow older. As a case in point, consider Visiting Texture — the new album by Trio 3, made up of alto saxophonist Oliver Lake, bassist Reggie Workman and drummer Andrew Cyrille. As these musicians near an octogenarian age, they seem to be reaching some sort of performance apex. Whatever their physical bodies may lack in facility, they easily make up with clarity of vision and intent; every note rings. On “Bumper,” a composition by Lake, there’s no obvious melody: the music just begins, and the musicians react, in a sublime sort of interplay, somehow both patient and urgent at once. (Trio 3 appears this Tuesday through Sunday at the Village Vanguard, with pianist Marc Cary as a guest.) — Simon Rentner

Ella Fitzgerald, “A-Tisket, A-Tasket”

Ella! A Centennial Celebration,” at the Apollo Theater in Harlem this Thursday, stands apart from most other tributes in Fitzgerald’s honor this year. While it will involve a vocal inheritor — Andrea Frierson, creator and star of the cabaret show Me & Ella — the event is principally a panel discussion on Ella’s music and legacy. Moderated by Farah Jasmine Griffin, it will feature several other scholars of note: Judith Tick, Robert G. O’Meally and Loren Schoenberg. It was Schoenberg who, as founding director of the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, secured the release of the Savory Collection, a historic trove of broadcast recordings. So in that spirit, here is Fitzgerald singing “A-Tisket, A-Tasket” with Chick Webb and members of the CBS Studio Orchestra, on August 13, 1938 — an effervescent highlight of The Savory Collection, Vol. 1: Body and Soul, which was released on iTunes last year. — N.C.

Joe Fiedler, “A Ladybug in My Notebook”

Trombonist Joe Fiedler has a heavy track record with his trio, an exploratory unit featuring bassist Rob Jost and drummer Michael Sarin. But on his robustly engaging new album, Like, Strange, Fiedler beefs up his front line, bringing in saxophonist Jeff Lederer and guitarist Pete McCann. More than a mere expansion, this has transformed the music, nudging Fiedler more toward fleshed-out harmony, jostling counterpoint and Afro-Latin rhythm. For an illustration of the point, look no further than “A Ladybug in My Notebook,” which deploys Fiedler’s trombone and Lederer’s soprano saxophone in a braided melodic line, and includes a brief, calmly ripping solo by McCann. (Fiedler is on tour with the band starting this week, and will hit the Jazz Gallery in New York on Saturday. For more dates and album information, check his website.) — N.C.

John Raymond and Real Feels, “Hymn”

John Raymond sets himself a multipurpose agenda with Real Feels, in which he plays flugelhorn alongside guitarist Gilad Hekselman and drummer Colin Strahahan. The trio is dedicated to pursuing an emotional openness not always associated with young musicians of their post-bop pedigree. It also reinterprets songs in mainstream circulation, meaning everything from “This Land is Your Land” to Bon Iver and Peter Gabriel. The broodingly atmospheric video above introduces a new original called “Hymn,” performed live in Eau Claire, Wisconsin late last year. It’s sure to feature into a gig at Rockwood Stage 3 in New York on Tuesday night, and again in the studio later this week, as Real Feels makes its next full-length album.

— N.C.