[Dixielandjazz] Jazz Returns to The Knitting Factory in NYC.

Steve barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Tue Jan 11 06:40:30 PST 2005

Couple of parallels in this non-OKOM article to OKOM.

1) Pop & Dance Music were folded into the jazz offerings of the bands.

2) They drew 650 people at $25 a head cover.

3) They may go back to being a jazz venue. (legendary in the 1980s)

See paragraph two for a possible way to program OKOM festivals and thus
insure that we still have some OKOM on the music scene.

Steve Barbone

January 11, 2005  NY TIMES  By BEN RATLIFF

Jazz Is Back (Sort of) at the Knitting Factory

It would be neat and tidy to say that the Knitting Factory is safe for jazz
again. That the once-little club has gone back to its nice old menschy ways
after having gone through a relocation to posh TriBeCa, pretentiously
inflated Internet and worldwide franchising business ventures, street
protests staged by musicians angry at its practices, trying months during
the rebuilding of ground zero, a smoking ban, a few years of rock 'n' roll,
and many torturous chairs and unworkable toilets. (It still has unworkable
toilets.) And that the NYC Winter Jazzfest, a seven-hour, three-stage,
19-band event it held on Sunday night, was the welcoming signal of jazz's

But the Knitting Factory's relationship to jazz was always an interrogatory
one. The club formed its identity around the New York improvisers of the
late 1980's, many of whom felt uncomfortable with jazz as a set of
traditional aesthetic values. They jostled and shook jazz to express how
much it meant to them, and the club had the great idea, during its high
years, of booking the rebels as well as the traditionalists. If the Knitting
Factory is to book jazz again and be true to its own history, it will have
to provoke a little confusion, mixing up audiences for double bills,
nurturing the notion of a homegrown jazz avant-garde and then brazenly
selling out to pop stars, confusing the issue of jazz's current identity.

Perhaps it will do just that. Six months ago the club added a fourth booker,
Brice Rosenbloom, to bring back some of its old heritage. And his bookings
for Sunday's marathon showed that he grasps the club's jazz past as well as
its possible jazz future. This was not a self-celebrating, this-is-our-life
evening for the club, which opened in 1986 in a Houston Street storefront
and moved to Leonard Street in 1994. And it wasn't meant to be: Winter
Jazzfest was occasioned by the Association for Performing Arts Presenters
conference as a kind of trade show for out-of-town producers and promoters
to hear recently established talents all at once. (It was similar in its
purpose to Global Fest, the world-music show held the night before at the
Public Theater.) The event opened up to the public, though, for a $25 cover
charge, and about 650 people packed the club's three rooms.

Curiously, there was no out-and-out free jazz, and none of the club's old
fixtures like Wayne Horvitz, John Zorn and Bill Frisell. The most
established performers were the saxophonist James Carter and the trumpeter
Dave Douglas. Mr. Carter played a good-natured, rocking performance with his
organ trio, and Mr. Douglas opined about the return of "real music" to the
room before playing a tight, fast-moving set with his quintet, featuring a
new saxophonist for the band, the virtuosic Donny McCaslin.

Many bands across the long evening reflected one big obsession: bringing the
rhythms of popular music, and especially of dance music, into jazz.

In the Bad Plus, there was the bearish drummer Dave King, using thin
drumsticks to intimate the needling rhythms of electronic dance music
between wandering patches of free rhythm. In the 12-member band Burnt Sugar,
led by the guitarist Vernon Reid, and the quintet Blackout, led by the
vibraphonist Stefon Harris, there was whomping, old-school funk. (But at
times Terreon Gully, the drummer from Blackout, switched over to the more
recent British club-music rhythms like drum-and-bass and two-step.) The
singer Gretchen Parlato sang a Bjork song, "Come to Me," and in some
reworkings of bossa nova and Brazilian pop songs (sung in Portuguese) locked
into intricate rhythmic tangles with her guitarist, Lionel Loueke.

The pianist Vijay Iyer played a strong set with his quartet, which now
includes Marcus Gilmore, an extraordinary young drummer; he expanded on the
music's fractured rhythmic cycles, turning odd-meter funk into cubism.
Gutbucket based its frantic party music on the idea of Ornette Coleman mixed
with a rock band; the Claudia Quintet's serenely building vamps and drones
were solidified by the sensitivity of its drummer and composer, John

There were other interests at play, some having nothing to do with jazz per
se. Keren Ann, a pop-folk singer, gave the audience a bath of drowsy,
mannered, hyper-cool 1960's obsessions; she might appeal to jazz's
discriminating adult audience. Ditto for Clogs, a half-classical quartet
with guitar, bassoon, violin and percussion. But the pianist Jason Moran,
one of jazz's greatest new artists, gave perhaps the best lesson about jazz:
it is what jazz musicians do. With his group Bandwagon, Mr. Moran used his
slot to prove that he's basically fixated on his own imperatives. Folding
traditional blues structures into his beguiling new music (and adding the
guitarist Marvin Sewell to see them through), he flirted with compositional
tools that could eclipse his own; instead the music turned out stubborn and
almost perversely personal, with a thousand edges. 

More information about the Dixielandjazz mailing list