” data-original-title=”” title=””>Rick Savage 4Tet’s recent appearance at the UpFront Exhibition Space, as part of the Hudson Valley Jazz Fest, checked all these boxes and more. The curator and owner, Gordon Graff, created a place where visual art and music coexist in a welcoming, convivial atmosphere. The UpFront Summer Show featured “over 20 local talented artist works from assembly to abstract to realism to photography” spread out over three large rooms. The first room incorporated a performance area framed by the words “Live Music” on a wall in red neon. It included warm, sophisticated lighting as well as a unique sound system. An old, faded sign for “B & F Hardware” (a business that inhabited the space in the late 20th century) spanned the width of the top of one wall and served as a reminder that the present shouldn’t disavow the past.
Ten selections spread out throughout two lengthy sets offered ample instances of the 4Tet’s ability to cohere during various song forms and address differences in the character of the songs. The material was predominantly comprised of originals by Savage (“Golden,” “Samsara,” “Without A Thang”), pianist
” data-original-title=”” title=””>David Janeway (“MT’s Mood,” “Fully Vaxed”), and drummer
” data-original-title=”” title=””>Eliot Zigmund (“Blues E”), mixed with one selection apiece by
” data-original-title=”” title=””>Wayne Shorter (“Miyako”) and
organ, Hammond B3
1940 – 1978
” data-original-title=”” title=””>Larry Young (“Tyrone”). Savage noted the months of rehearsal in Zigmund’s home and credited the band’s input to “Golden.”
There were exceptions to a program that largely stayed within the parameters of the jazz mainstream from the mid-to-late twentieth century. Both sets closed with what Savage described as “free music,” spur-of-the-moment performances without any previous discussion of key or tempo. Although there was a marked difference between the original compositions and free-form selections, the rapport the band displayed throughout the sets extended to these leaps into the unknown and drew a decidedly enthusiastic response from an attentive audience.
Aside from the forays into free improvisation, Savage displayed an inspired take on the bop-oriented jazz trumpet tradition. Although a rich, crackling sound on the instrument was his calling card, his innate musical intelligence and willingness to allow lines to breathe exemplified the depth of his playing. The first set’s opener, “Tyrone,” established Savage’s ability to play in concert with Janeway, Zigmund, and bassist
” data-original-title=”” title=””>Steve LaSpina, as opposed to simply blowing over them with little regard for the cohesiveness of the music. Spontaneity and the sound of surprise tugged at an underlying sense of order and the symmetry of his lines. “Without A Thang” was one of several instances in which his solos were exciting without turning forced or overdone.
Janeway consistently made arresting contributions in a supportive role and as a soloist. It was a pleasure to hear him supplement Savage’s treatment of the melody of “Tyrone,” find novel ways of complementing the trumpeter’s solos on “Samsara” and “Blues E,” and executing a consonant set of chords during LaSpina’s “MT’s Mood” turn . Janeway’s improvisations encompassed a wide variety of elements, including solid, efficacy, swinging lines, long, winding triplet figures climbing up the keyboard, the effective repetition of brief phrases, and a sudden, radical reduction in volume, instantly followed by LaSpina and Zigmund.
Janeway interjected a spontaneous comment during Savage’s remarks before the first free music selection that was pertinent to the whole performance and made the occasion even more meaningful. Addressing the audience, he stated, “You’re a part of this experience.” It was a rare and welcome acknowledgment of the importance of an audience’s energy and feedback to a band, particularly considering the lingering memories of the traumatic, Covid-era shutting down of all music venues. Ultimately, it is good to know that scenes such as UpFront provide a haven for creative music fans outside densely populated urban areas.
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