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Jukebox: The late, great saxophonist Brignola honored

Jukebox: The late, great saxophonist Brignola honored

Thornetta Davis soars at Music Haven
Jukebox: The late, great saxophonist Brignola honored
Musician Nick Brignola poses with friends at Schenectady’s “Blue Apple” nightclub in 1970. Brignola died in 2002.
Photographer: gazette file photo

Brian Patneaude and Dylan Canterbury played free shows twice in 13 hours last week, encouraging signs for jazz here.

Last Wednesday at Music Haven, Patneaude (tenor sax) and Canterbury (trumpet, flugelhorn) honored our late, great hard-bop sax god Nick Brignola; performing with the SUNY Schenectady Jazz Faculty Combo before the all-star band Brignola’s longtime drummer David Calarco built for the headline set. Both bands played tunes Brignola played. Patneaude studied with Brignola and said Brignola scared him, but he turned that fear into virtuoso work; he starred in “Poinciana,” Canterbury in “Invitation.”

Calarco’s one-shot all-star band sounded under-rehearsed in “Jitterbug Waltz” early, but pulled together strongly while Calarco evoked Brignola in chat between tunes. Baritone sax-man Gary Smulyan echoed Brignola’s beefy but buoyant sound and wit, beautifully poignant in the blues “Tears Inside,” flying in “The Night Has 1,000 Eyes.” Joe Magnarelli’s trumpet commented tastefully everywhere and propelled “Signals in From Somewhere” out to anywhere.

The next noon, Canterbury and Patneaude again played side by side, in Canterbury’s quintet at Jazz on Jay; overall, happier fare than the often moody bop of the Brignola tribute the night before.

However, Canterbury’s “Quiet Revolution,” written in the spirit of recovery from an illness, addressed the issues of our troubled times with as much gravity as grace.

We’ll never see another Nick Brignola here, but the power and tradition of jazz flourish in the younger but skilled hands of Patneaude, Canterbury and their contemporaries.

Jazz on Jay continues today with the Joe Finn Trio + 1, Trio Lingo Aug. 15 and the Brian Patneaude Quartet Aug. 22. Noon. Free. Rain site: Robb Alley at Proctors.

Thornetta Davis wielded the best Motor City voice since Aretha Sunday at Music Haven. Gold sparkle claimed “Detroit Girls Rock” across the front of her black outfit, a bustle big as a Buick behind. She could wear more rings only by growing more fingers; miles of bracelets spun on her wrists.

She was not shy.

Her voice soared high in exaltation or cut deep as the feelings behind her words, a mighty melding of musical command and unfiltered emotion.
She was dazzling.

Before she swept on, regal, righteous and ready, her band, all Detroiters, locked a seismic Meters-style groove. There’s no higher praise. Stand-outs: keyboardist Phil Hale and guitarist Carlton Washington. No, not fair: They ALL owned the stage, unified and precise. Sit-outs: twin singers Roseanne and Rosemere Matthews sang from chairs, arms soaring with their voices, showing dancers down front how to do it.

Davis simmered the show in a soul stew. Take us down, lift us up, steer our feelings like a late-night cab on dark streets. Exhilarating in uptempo romps including “Got My Mojo Working,” Davis devastated us in mourning love lost or abused, in the defiant “That Don’t Appease Me” and pleading — OMG! — “Am I Just a Shadow”!

She proclaimed, “I’d Rather Be Alone,” cueing Hale’s titanic organ solo and dabbing sweat from her brow, right on the beat; then she demanded “I Need a Whole Lotta Love.” She seemed likely to get it; and she honored husband/percussionist James Anderson in the tender “Honest Woman.” Mid-song, he eased across the stage to slow-dance with her. Davis reclaimed “Take Another Little Piece of My Heart” from Janis Joplin in a towering wail, giving songwriter Irma Franklin her due. Then she exhorted, “If I can shake all this, you can shake what you got!” — matching motion to words and urging dancers to come forward.

Folks did, from kids who ran more than they danced to earnest jitterbug swirlers, serious-intent as in a class, and gray-hairs who could have stepped off the screen at the Woodstock film Friday. Davis took in this joy and assured in benediction, “I Believe (Everything Gonna Be Alright).” And, wow! — it was.

Cimarron plays Colombian jaropo dance music Sunday at Music Haven; the virtuoso strings duo Maria Z and Sten opens. 7 p.m. Free. Rain site: Niskayuna H.S. auditorium. www.musichavenstage.org

New Orleans prodigy-turned- renaissance man Harry Connick Jr. beings his boisterous, booming big (17 pieces) band to The Egg (Empire State Plaza, Albany) tonight and Friday. 8 p.m. $75, $65, $55. 518-473-1845 www.theegg.org

Connick’s crew isn’t the only jazz band playing a double: Guitarist John Pizzarelli plays two shows Saturday at Caffe Lena (47 Phila St.); both are sold out. And, the Americana quartet Mipso plays the Caffe Sunday at 6 and 8:30 p.m. $28 advance, $32 door, $16 students and children. 518-583-0022 www.caffelena.org

On Monday, LA pop chameleon Beck, Kentucky Grammy winners (Best Rock Album) Cage the Elephant, Austin psychedelic rockers Spoon and Brooklyn’s post-punk band Sunflower Bean play SPAC (Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Rts. 9 and 50, Saratoga Springs) — a blast of diverse rock power. 6 p.m. $144.50-$89.50 inside, lawn $29.50. 800-745-3000 www.livenation.com

Another SPAC big one: On Sunday, California nu-metal rockers Korn, Seattle grunge-rockers Alice in Chains, Florida on-and-off rockers Underoath and Jersey hip-hop crew Ho99o9 team up Sunday. 6:30 p.m. $145-$29.50 inside, lawn $29.50

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