Rafi Zabor’s Updoc, Fri 2/26 & Tues 3/1


The kids today, they tell me that a shuffle is something, like before everything was transferred to those little phones, that a shuffle was something they did with the music on their iPods, which I think were plant-beings from outer space growing in their basements while they were asleep . . . anyway, something like that, but in MY day a shuffle was this heavy backbeat punch Art Blakey would apply to tunes of a certain lower-middle tempo—was the first one was Bobby Timmons’ Moanin?—because Blakey played almost everything at maximum strength, almost including ballads; and I had no idea, until I heard his new record New Direction, that Herlin Riley, whom I’d taen for Lincoln Center’s impeccable somewhat fastidious drummer, had so much Blakey in him. Now that I do know, I started off this week’s Updoc—Friday at 8PM and noon next Tuesday, Apollo Theatre time—with Riley’s heavily Blakeyed Harlem Shuffle, and when I followed that up with one from the band I grew up on (the one with Lee Morgan and Wayne Shorter up front and Blakey stoking the giant furnace), let us say that Herlin Riley’s drumset did not collapse in response, or his bandmates run for the hills. Variations on the theme follow, featuring people like Johnny Hodges, Miles Davis, Dr. Lonnie Smith’s recent resurgence on Blue Note, with relief provided by the likes of Ben Webster—playing one of his many versions of Chelsea Bridge, no less—and Luciano Berio. And some Mingus in Belgium, 1964, meditating on integration and wirecutters and wishing Eric Dolphy would come home with him alive—so long, Eric. And so long, Charles. And how I miss you, Buhaina. But spring is on the wing if not yet in the air, and most of us will be here for it, with old friends and present company, all together.

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