Neil Peart presciently penned his own epitaph in the artwork of Rush’s 1998 album “Different Stages • Live” (1998). He wrote (of his deceased daughter and wife): “Suddenly … you were gone … from all the lives you left your mark upon.”
Peart made his mark in 41 years as drummer and lyricist with Rush, retiring in 2015 as tendonitis and cancer took their toll. He died Jan. 7, just 67.
Joining the Canadian trio in 1974, high-water mark of fusion-jazz and prog-rock when speed and density ruled, Peart’s power and precision likely inspired as many drummers (and living-room air-drummers) as Billy Cobham. Peart made music on a quest, as he told Rolling Stone after his last tour (2015). “I set out to never betray the values that 16-year-old had, to never sell out, to never bow to the man.”
Other quests marked his life, like the restless rolls across galaxies of tom-toms in “Tom Sawyer,” the pulsing polyrhythms in “YYZ.” After daughter Selena and first wife Jackie Taylor died, Peart motorcycled across America; he’d earlier bicycled across Cameroon. Both journeys became insightful, introspective memoirs.
Drummers naturally revered him, just as Peart himself honored similarly hyperactive jazz master Buddy Rich. Police drummer Stewart Copeland hailed both Peart’s complexity and how he “keeps the throb, which is the most important thing.” Since Peart’s death, bands including Tool, Styx and Dream Theater paid tribute onstage. A fan Facebooked in deep amusement at the notion of a million cover bands struggling to honor him by finding an easy Rush song to play. There are no easy-to-play Rush songs, nor easy Peart drum parts.
“Sorry to hear Neil Peart of Rush has passed,” Gazette colleague Jeff Wilkin Facebooked. “ … reviewed them in 2004, best concert I ever saw!” Unless we consider those on DVD sets “Rush in Rio” (2003), “Rush R30” (2005) or “Snakes and Arrows” (2008), we won’t see another Rush concert. The passing of legacy bands hits fans hard; the end of a kind of continuity in our lives as the music-makers who dazzled our younger selves shuffle offstage.
Maybe that’s why we feel comforted by continuity onstage now.
Thursday Jazz Night continues tonight at the Van Dyck (237 Union St., Schenectady) with Cliff Brucker’s “New Circle” band: saxophonist Kenny McCabe, guitarist Chad McLoughlin, bassist Tarik Shah and Brucker playing drums, composing original tunes and arranging standards. Brucker made two albums and played live shows with Full Circle, a powerful, straight-ahead band and predecessor to this one.
McCabe studied with Dick Oatts and has played hereabouts as sideman and leader. McLoughlin’s credits range from rockers Bo Diddley and Little Anthony to smooth jazz and fusion artists including Dave Kikosky and a Mahavishnu Orchestra tribute. Shaw boasts the longest track record, including stints with Willis “Gatortail” Jackson, the Duke Ellington Orchestra and stars of all jazz styles. 7 p.m. No admission charge, hit the tip jar. Future Thursday Jazz Nights feature Bopitude and Keith Pray’s Ortet. 518-348-7999 www.vandycklounge.com.
Also tonight, another strong jazz crew plays Lost & Found (942 Broadway, Albany). Visiting horn stars Ralph Lalama, tenor sax, and Joe Magnarelli, trumpet, join local heroes Awan Jenkins, alto sax; Phil Allen, valve trombone; Mark Kleinhaut, guitar; Otto Gardner, bass; and Joe Barna, drums. 7 p.m. $15. 518-694-0670 www.lostandfoundalbany.com
The Everyone Orchestra at Putnam Place (63a Putnam St., Saratoga Springs) Saturday also represents continuity; another all-star jazz crew like the SeaGods last Saturday. Matt Butler conducts the Orchestra: guitarists Chuck Garvey and Al Schneir, both of moe., as is drummer Vinnie Amico; also Rob Mercurio (bass, of Galactic); trumpeter Mike Maher and saxophonist Chris Bullock (both of Snarky Puppy); keyboardist A.C. Carter (TAUK); and saxophonist Shannon Lynch (Conehead Buddha).
Butler challenges them onstage, calling sparse directions for “Funk in A” or “Space Jam,” for example. Connecticut jam band Eggy opens. 8 p.m. $22 advance, $25 on Saturday. 518-886-9585 www.putnamplace.com
BIG hats off to all those who played, attended and staged the SeaGods last Saturday, a successful fundraiser to support the cancer treatment of Ominous Seapods/SeaGods drummer Ted Marotta’s daughter. A packed show with hot music for a great cause.
Dom Flemons returns to Caffe Lena (47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs) Friday with a new chapter of old-time black music that began with the supernova Carolina Chocolate Drops. His Grammy-nominated “Black Cowboys” album honors the contributions of African Americans to the myths and meaning of the Old West. Flemons sings and plays folkloric instruments from banjo to bones. Opener Nora Brown also plays banjo, since age 6; she’s now 14. 8 p.m. $25 advance, $30 door, $15 students and children. 518-583-0022 www.caffelena.org
The Caffe’s top show this weekend presents singer-actor-activist Holly Near. Honored in her five-decade career by the ACLU, the National Lawyers Guild, the National Organization for Women and as Ms. Magazine Woman of the Year, Near headlined the Eighth Step’s 50th anniversary show. A 6 p.m. live interview for radio’s “Art of the Song” precedes the 7 p.m. show. $32, $35, $17.50
Monday, Martin Luther King Day and 40 days before Mardi Gras, the Caffe hosts New Orleans funksters Shamarr Allen & the Underdawgs: Allen, trumpet; Floyd Gray, drums; Herbert Stevens, percussion; Jason Butler, keyboards; Matt Clark, guitar; and William Terry, bass. A Lower 9th Ward resident, Allen gave his new album the great title “True Orleans.” 7 p.m. $18, $20, $10
More directly honoring Martin Luther King Jr. on Sunday at Proctors (432 State St., Schenectady), “We Shall Overcome” celebrates the music that provided both soundtrack and inspiration to the civil rights movement. Producer/musical director Damien Sneed conducts this wide-spectrum tribute, just as Matt Butler conducts the Everyone Orchestra Saturday at Putnam Place. “We Shall Overcome” also incorporates spoken words of King within a flow of song by Duke Ellington, Wynton Marsalis, Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin and many others. 7 p.m. $45-$20. 518-346-6204 www.proctors.org
WAMC’s The Linda (339 Central Ave., Albany) has increasingly showcased blues, continuing Sunday with Junior Watson and Dean Shot. Since stints with West Coast bands the Mighty Flyers and Canned Heat, Watson has played dozens of sideman gigs while making peppy jump blues on his own. Jersey-based Shot boasts a similar track record as supporting player to the stars, with upbeat inclinations and a Howlin’ Wolf homage on his own. Together, they make music well suited to dancing, so Jason Fenton offers preshow dance instruction. 7 p.m. $20 advance, $25 Saturday. 518-465-5233 www.thelinda.org