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Sunday, April 14, 2019

Michael Attias - Solo & Quartet at Greenwich House, New York on April 6, 2019

Michael Attias
By Eric Stern

Michael Attias appeared at Greenwich House as part of the Sound It Out series with the announced intention of celebrating the release of his new solo album ḗchos la nuit. He opened, unaccompanied at the piano bench, playing his alto sax into the body of the piano. This is an interesting idea which I have seen a good number of others utilize. The vibration of the piano's strings generates a ghostly feeling as the notes slowly decay. In addition, Attias played duets with himself using his right hand on the keyboard and his left on his saxophone. Much of this part of the performance assumed a languid pace that felt introspective. I assume he uses this technique to compose.

The solo set felt intensely personal. I heard that one review of his new solo CD suggested he needed a better partner. Snark aside, I enjoyed having the opportunity to see his compositional praxis in this intimate setting.

Kris Davis (piano), Attias (sax), Sean Conly (double-bass) and Satoshi Takeishi (drums)

 The second half of the show was his quartet with Kris Davis (piano), Sean Conly (double-bass) and Satoshi Takeishi (drums). I preferred the quartet set to the solo set. Simply put, the solo set felt like more like sketches for the type of music that the quartet would then fully bring to life.

I always enjoy Takeishi’s playing. He is not a show off, but his use of brushes, mallets, and sticks creates an impressive variety of sounds. He clearly thinks about adding to each song rather than just keeping a beat. On this evening he and Attias appeared to be very comfortable with the new music being presented. The show ended with a sax/drum spotlight where Attias raised the intensity level and displayed a bit of fire. This was the highlight of the set for me.

The performers were working from sheet music, and there were few solos. The structure of the songs allowed for an intriguing interplay between the group members, and all the players got an opportunity to showcase their contributions. We can only hope they get a chance to tour this and become more familiar with the material. Good as this show was, I am certain that this would lead to even better performances as each player gets a firmer footing within the framework of the compositions.

A note on the venue: Greenwich House has good sound. With its high ceilings and West Village townhouse aesthetic, it is visually pleasing and physically comfortable. The audience the venue tends to draw is clearly there for the music and is respectfully quiet during performances. The space is known for possessing good pianos. While the venue is flat, it has no physical obstructions to sightlines.


Hollywood said...

I wasn't there personally but I`ve heard so much love about this gig. Heard Mr Attias was in top form.