Jazz Report: At the Mezzrow

This is a jazz performance report on the show by Aaron Parks with Ralph Alessi and John Hebert at the Mezzrow — a Greenwich Village showplace. The show was performed on 23 July 2016. Aaron Parks played the piano, Ralph Alessi the trumpet and John Hebert the bass. This was an instrumental performance.

As is typical of most jazz, the instruments used were piano, trumpet and bass and the three combined to produce harmonious sounds that were rhythmically conducted by the bass rhythm and punctuated by the hammers of the piano and the bursts from the trumpet. The piano and the bass are chordophones and the trumpet is an aerophone, according to the classifications of the Sachs-Hornbostel system (Schmidt-Jones).

The timbre of the instruments is rich and poppy. The base drives the sounds but yields up energy to the horn and to the piano, letting the two duel and dance together; mostly the instruments align in a give and take kind of rapidity; the horn alternately leads with solo performances supported by the piano and bass and at times the piano leads the way. There a great fluctuations in the tones of the instruments. The trumpet will burst with rapid-fire like bullets of sounds while the piano issues out chord progressions before running up and down the keyboard in a virtuoso tear of energy and sound. The horn will then devolve into a mellow and melancholy, wistful performance while the piano regroups — and then another burst of energy from the horn will follow. It is overall a very up and down type of timbre throughout the performances from the trio, which is typical of jazz, as it is rooted in a lively, spiritual kind of musical tradition in which various melodies contend with one another and yet participate in the same harmonious course, blending and competing simultaneously or sitting back and letting one instrument lead the way for a time while the others give space (Kubik 111).

There is no real form or structure to the performances as they are like free-flowing expressions of energy and mood. One piece literally picks up and goes and then stops, then another piece begins, moves around freely, and ends. The instruments essentially play off the mood of one another, like friends getting together and conversing — one instrument starts a conversation, another joins, says a few words (makes a few sounds), and a third member chimes in; each participates and adds a little; then the conversation ends and a new one begins. They take various moods but are usually up-beat and confident and very relaxed overall.

The music is polyphonic with multiple notes and melodies occurring at once — if indeed they can be called melodies; they are more like harmonic chords and progressions that…

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