Inside out

By JON GARELICK  |  July 6, 2009

Since then, Kohlhase has recorded with Rudd (on the 2001 release Eventuality: The Charlie Kohlhase Quintet Plays the Music of Roswell Rudd), and with Rudd's former partner in the influential New York Art Quartet, saxophonist John Tchicai. And he's played with others of heroes, like Anthony Braxton and the violinist Leroy Jenkins.

Kohlhase's musical dialogues often turn into character portraits, and Adventures has its share of invented superheroes. So on the boppish theme of "Loquator & Taciturnator," his "taciturn" alto-sax response answers the loquacious call of the ensemble. In a series of duets that follow, alto and trombone face off with drums while guitar has to answer to tenor sax. The bass acts as Moderator in all discussions.

The clever scheme wouldn't matter so much if the playing weren't so astute. Matt Langley (a Kohlhase buddy since his Portsmouth days) offers liquid flowing lines against guitarist Eric Hofbauer following Kohlhase's tart alto. Trombonist Jeff Galindo sometimes recalls Rudd in his sweeping melodic inventions, but with a flair for beboppish ornaments. Bassist Jef Charland is a powerful melodic and rhythmic. linchpin. And, in another Kohlhase twist, the Explorer's Club has two drummers, Miki Matsuki and Chris Punis, each exchanging roles as timekeeper and melody player.

BIG HORN: Kohlhase's music is as informed as much by Harry Carney as by Ornette Coleman.
According to Hofbauer, who has played with him since 2001, Kohlhase invites collaboration. "The intricacies of the melodies are always set, but the arrangements are always on the fly." That goes for Kohlhase's character portraits. "He'll tell us that the piece is about these two characters, but it's up to us to find the answers musically. So it's simultaneously specific to the æsthetic goal while remaining abstract. In the end, his vision becomes everyone's vision.

The iconic alto-saxophonist Lee Konitz, now 82, has seemed content to tour the world and record with pick-up rhythm sections or as a marquee-value guest star. But when he comes to the Regattabar this Wednesday, it will be with a group who've come as close to a working band as he's had in some time, the trio Minsarah.

German pianist Florian Weber, Israeli drummer Ziv Ravitz, and American bassist Jeff Denson met as students at Berklee. In 2006, they released a homonymous debut as Minsarah on the German label Enja that shows them with an authoritative sound: the equal three-way exchange that's become standard for piano trios since Bill Evans, informed by Weber's European classicism, Ravitz's Middle Eastern melodic tinge, and Denson's gritty "American" attack.

Over the phone from Israel, Ravitz tells me that he and Weber met Konitz in Germany on a recording session led by saxophonist Nicolas Simeon. Konitz needed a band, and he offered a gig to Ravitz and Weber, who brought in Denson. Konitz kept calling. "At a show in Germany, he said it had been a while since he had a band, and with us he feels that he does. It made us extremely happy." The quartet recorded Deep Lee on Enja, and Ravitz says another disc is on the way.

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