All them 88s!

 A whole lotta pianists and more
By JON GARELICK  |  December 28, 2006

061229_inside_bjorn
MUSIC MATES: The Björn Wennås–Carmen Marsico Septet play Ryles January 17.

From free to funky, it sometimes seems like a golden age of jazz piano. The bookings at Scullers and the Regattabar are rife with great piano trios old and young. In the space of a couple of days, the Regattabar has the trios of JASON MORAN (February 1) and BILL CHARLAP (February 2-3). Moran plays everything from Afrika Bambaataa and Prokofiev to “Body and Soul” and his wide-ranging originals with his Bandwagon, bassist Tarus Mateen and drummer Nasheet Waits. Charlap is a Great American Songbook classicist, with beautiful touch and harmonic sense. He’s backed by the peerless rhythm team of bassist Peter Washington and drummer Kenny Washington. Bassist GARY PEACOCK helped invent the modern piano trio back in the day with Paul Bley. For the past couple of decades he’s been best known for his work with Keith Jarrett; now he’s bringing his own trio, with pianist Marc Copland and the great young drummer Bill Stewart (February 15). Moran and Charlap have had the benefit of developing with their trios over several years, and that’s also true of DANILO PÉREZ and his trio with bassist Ben Street and drummer Adam Cruz. Pérez was originally admired for his carrying forward of the Afro-Latin Caribbean tradition, but since joining Wayne Shorter’s quartet, his playing — and this band’s — has become ever more free and expansive. They’re at the R February 16-17.

Meanwhile, Scullers brings in the fiery pianist CYRUS CHESTNUT (January 26-27), who’s been getting audiences screaming since his days with Betty Carter. Canadian JOHN STETCH (February 8) was a denizen of the downtown New York scene before heading upstate a few years ago. He came to piano late (from clarinet) and methodically created himself as a compelling composer and beautiful player. MARC CARY (March 6) is another favorite of New York musicians (and a graduate of Betty Carter and Abbey Lincoln bands), and he almost stole the show when he came to town with young vibes star Stefon Harris last month. AARON GOLDERG, who made his bones in Joshua Redman’s band, brings his excellent trio (bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Eric Harland) to Scullers March 28.

Other notable jazz-related acts coming to the Regattabar (Charles Hotel, 1 Bennett St, Cambridge; 617.395.7757) include the wonderful long-time Boston-based Brazilian guitarist and songwriter SERGIO BRANDÃO with his band MANGA-ROSA with a birthday tribute to Antonio Carlos Jobim (January 27); the excellent Latin-dance band OBBINI TUMBAO (January 30); the exciting young sax man CHRIS POTTER and his band Underground with Craig Taborn on Fender Rhodes and Adam Rogers on guitar (February 6-7); Boston vocal diva REBECCA PARRIS (February 10); and the “Soul Queen of New Orleans,” IRMA THOMAS (March 29-31).

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