Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Azzolina’s Live Dialect

The Stones must be off the road this week. Jay Azzolina was able to get his musical comrade Tim Ries, the Rolling Stones sideman and jazz interpreter, for his CD release and tour launch celebration at the Cutting Room in New York’s fashionable Flatiron district. The CD bringing everyone together was Local Dialect, reviewed here last week.

As on Dialect, Azzolina kicked-off the set with “Friends of Friends” an intriguing, but catchy original that serves as a nice up-tempo ice-breaker. While Dialect often shifts in tone and personnel throughout the disk, in live performance Azzolina stuck to the old-school soul-jazz organ combo format. Azzolina is perhaps best known for his more commercial work with Spyro Gyro, but he can clearly burn through a grits and gravy session. While Dialect actually has one particularly “contemporary” radio friendly track, it was full speed ahead with no concessions during last night’s set.

Behind the organ console, Gary Versace is obviously fluent in the soul-jazz vernacular. Ries, Azzolina’s Westchester neighbor, had plenty to say as well, particularly in his fiery soprano solos. This is definitely a good band, which should only get better as they continue to play this music.

Dialect really is a strong release, with some memorable compositions, that often have a hint of the bittersweet. This is probably most pronounced on the lovely “Angel’s Dance” a Latin-style duo number that did not make it into Tuesday night’s set list. The CD is well worth checking out, as are Azzolina and company if they are playing in your locale.

Fortunately, I had a heads-up about the gig. Even though the Cutting Room is quite convenient to the J.B. offices, its bookings are so eclectic, I often lose track of who is playing there (it turns out Hubert Sumlin will be making a guest appearance Thur.). Hopefully the myspace add will rectify that.

According to his myspace page, Azzolina’s next gig in New York is at the Bar Next Door on December 13th, as part of the club’s guitar trio series. Hearing Azzolina in a slightly different format should make for a good night out as well.