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REVIEW: Anthony Coleman and Friends at Barbès Brooklyn

Anthony Coleman in 2012
Photo credit Susanna Bolle/ Creative Commons

Anthony Coleman and friends
(Barbès Brooklyn, 17 November 2018. Review by Dan Bergsagel)

Barbès is a small bar. And beyond it, behind a curtain in a smaller room still, sat pianist Anthony Coleman, drummer/ percussionist Satoshi Takeishi and reedsman Marty Ehrlich, running through phrases, throwing around scraps of manuscript paper, and generally enjoying themselves as if they were in their own front room.

As the third of a four-week Saturday residency at Barbès, this makes sense. While they discussed the Brechtian Verfremdungseffekt of their continuing rehearsal five minutes before the set, and questioning the crowd as to whether the sound balance was OK, once the curtain was drawn across the door, it was very much a gig.

The opening piece set a clear intensity, with Ehrlich taking a bright phrasing on alto, dropping in and out to meet the various energies of Coleman’s piano. The trio was further deconstructed, with Takeishi rejecting drumsticks and instead delicately playing his toms with his fingers and palms. There was a continued enthusiasm in not playing woodwind instruments as envisaged, an atmosphere generated from grunts and slaps on the soprano as well as the cleaner improvisation.

Throughout the set the sheer enjoyment of jamming was evident and enjoyable, but is was on two ballads, A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing and Ghost Of A Chance, that the musical combination really shone. The tender Ghost… had Coleman accompanied by restrained percussion backing within the room and the well-timed additional shuffle of a cocktail shaker reaching through from beyond it. Having been sprung on him by Marc Ribot midweek when Coleman was accompanying him at his residency at the Stone, he came ready and motivated here, and had the decency to warn the others in advance so Ehrlich could produce a very considered clarinet melody.

They finished with a jaunty piece from Coleman’s most recent recording, playing to piano pumps and drawing on Takeishi’s interests in Colombian rhythms – perhaps a different focus to explore here in the coming months. For an early evening local session, Barbès is an unpretentious and rare opportunity to get up into the action, and Coleman and friends readily provide an immersive experience.

This is our first report from New York by Dan Bergsagel, who has just moved there.

LINKS: Barbès Brooklyn is at 376 9th Street, Park Slope – WEBSITE
Biography of Anthony Coleman from the New England Conservatory

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