Fallacaro brings complex skills to homecoming at Proctors

Thomas Wolfe was wrong. Sometimes you can go home again.

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For Gazette music writer Brian McElhiney’s preview of this show, click here.

Thomas Wolfe was wrong. Sometimes you can go home again.

When local-turned-Brooklynite jazz pianist Dominic Fallacaro came to the Proctors GE Theater on Saturday, family, friends and fans gathered to see the home boy’s progress from prodigy to prodigious. Relatives sang out “Hey, Dom-EE!” as singers in a church choir he’d once accompanied claimed him as one of their own and older jazz-heads gathered to see what the fuss was all about.

Fallacaro led a quintet of well-schooled contemporaries: cool, skillful and capable, reading charts and his cues as he introduced the tunes of his new “Collected” album, which each patron received free upon leaving the theater into a bustling, happy reception in the packed Robb Alley.

The songs were bustling, too. Sometimes the quintet’s youthful energy seemed restless as they quick-changed from one idea to the next before it felt finished — as if not trusting the material, or anxious to introduce the next conceptual. The effect was kaleidoscopic, or disconcerting when something pleasant or intriguing showed up and was too impatiently replaced. The album’s title track “Collected,” a gift as the set-closer, was an exception — a real highlight in its elegance and the generous way Fallacaro let it breathe through a graceful ostinato as soloists orbited around it.

Fallacaro’s eloquent opener, “Ghostwritten Beauty,” earned its ironic title in the strong echoes he played of McCoy Tyner’s percussive chord comping and Chick Corea’s energetic way of building solos on scales and decorating them with muscular arpeggios. These influences provided a firm foundation for much of what Fallacaro played on Saturday, though he focused their approach through a post-modernist prism of sly sarcasm in “False Idol” and rambunctious satire in “Natural Nuclear Waste.”

Everyone had impressive chops, with Fallacaro — a forceful player of stellar technical facility — clearly the top talent in what seemed a band of friends. Bassist Maeve Royce held the band steady even as drummer Stuart Bidwell sometimes made the pulse too elastic, while alto sax-man Mike McGarril displayed a pleasing tone and agile phrasing and guitarist Travis Reuter, used too sparingly, played the most interesting solos after Fallacaro’s.

In his quiet moments, Reuter echoed Pat Metheny’s airy sound; uptempo he had John Scofield’s fearless zip in bluesy runs or electronic manipulations.

Fallacaro’s edgy, fast-mutating tunes demanded and rewarded freedom and listening, and the band was at its best when Reuter played in micro-timed harmony with Royce or McGarril.

Schenectady/Brooklyn troubadour Jon Sandler launched his 30-minute opener with a strong, slow “A Day in the Life.” When he shifted to self-regarding originals, he displayed performing skills better developed than his composing acumen. He grew on the crowd, though, by saving his best tunes for last: “Vodka,” and “Judy Sings,” about his cat.

Just as Sandler started the show with a rock cover, so did Fallacaro and crew: Abba’s “Dancing Queen” with jaunty, mock-disco bounce that was both jazzy and perfect.

Categories: Entertainment

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