Photos: The Undead Jazzfest 2010*

  • Steve Coleman addresses the crowd at a jam-packed, poorly-ventilated and ecstatic Sullivan Hall after his show.
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    Steve Coleman addresses the crowd at a jam-packed, poorly-ventilated and ecstatic Sullivan Hall after his show.
    Patrick Jarenwattananon/NPR
  • At Kenny's Castaways, Uri Caine and a stellar ensemble played deeply grooving versions of Mozart works.
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    At Kenny's Castaways, Uri Caine and a stellar ensemble played deeply grooving versions of Mozart works.
    Patrick Jarenwattananon/NPR
  • Matthew Shipp played a solo piano set at Le Poisson Rouge — his wildly point-of-departure take on "Fly Me To The Moon" was a highlight.
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    Matthew Shipp played a solo piano set at Le Poisson Rouge — his wildly point-of-departure take on "Fly Me To The Moon" was a highlight.
    Patrick Jarenwattananon/NPR
  • Kim Thompson, whose biggest gig is in Beyonce's touring band, got a chance to play with her jazz quartet at Sullivan Hall.
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    Kim Thompson, whose biggest gig is in Beyonce's touring band, got a chance to play with her jazz quartet at Sullivan Hall.
    Patrick Jarenwattananon/NPR
  • Ben Perowsky addresses the crowd after a set with his Moodswing Orchestra. Rapper TK Wonder's vocal turn enthralled the crowd.
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    Ben Perowsky addresses the crowd after a set with his Moodswing Orchestra. Rapper TK Wonder's vocal turn enthralled the crowd.
    Patrick Jarenwattananon/NPR
  • The New York version of the Marc Cary Focus Trio, performing at Sullivan Hall. Cary (piano) is joined by Burniss Earl Travis on bass and Sameer Gupta on drums.
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    The New York version of the Marc Cary Focus Trio, performing at Sullivan Hall. Cary (piano) is joined by Burniss Earl Travis on bass and Sameer Gupta on drums.
    Patrick Jarenwattananon/NPR
  • Miles Okazaki (guitar) and Dan Weiss (drums) played a duo set that ranged from bossa nova to drumset transcriptions of tabla music.
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    Miles Okazaki (guitar) and Dan Weiss (drums) played a duo set that ranged from bossa nova to drumset transcriptions of tabla music.
    Patrick Jarenwattananon/NPR
  • Miles Okazaki also sat in with the trio of Jean-Michel Pilc, Tim Lefebvre and Ari Hoenig. Hoenig dressed for the Undead theme.
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    Miles Okazaki also sat in with the trio of Jean-Michel Pilc, Tim Lefebvre and Ari Hoenig. Hoenig dressed for the Undead theme.
    Patrick Jarenwattananon/NPR
  • Jean-Michel Pilc drove a jammy, riff-based set on Fender Rhodes, with Tim Lefebvre on bass guitar.
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    Jean-Michel Pilc drove a jammy, riff-based set on Fender Rhodes, with Tim Lefebvre on bass guitar.
    Patrick Jarenwattananon/NPR
  • The two-tiered seating arrangement at Kenny's Castaways made for overhang.
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    The two-tiered seating arrangement at Kenny's Castaways made for overhang.
    Patrick Jarenwattananon/NPR
  • Richmond, Va.'s Fight The Big Bull drove seven hours up to New York to perform. Bryan Hooten solos on trombone, with Reggie Pace (trombone), Bob Miller (trumpet), Jason Scott (clarinet) and John Lilley (tenor saxophone) accompanying.
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    Richmond, Va.'s Fight The Big Bull drove seven hours up to New York to perform. Bryan Hooten solos on trombone, with Reggie Pace (trombone), Bob Miller (trumpet), Jason Scott (clarinet) and John Lilley (tenor saxophone) accompanying.
    Patrick Jarenwattananon/NPR
  • Trombonist Alan Ferber played a late night set with his nonet at Kenny's Castaways.
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    Trombonist Alan Ferber played a late night set with his nonet at Kenny's Castaways.
    Patrick Jarenwattananon/NPR
  • The Josh Roseman Unit closed out the first night at Sullivan Hall.
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    The Josh Roseman Unit closed out the first night at Sullivan Hall.
    Patrick Jarenwattananon/NPR
  • Adam Schatz, one of the two presenters behind the Undead Jazzfest, takes in music at Kenny's Castaways.
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    Adam Schatz, one of the two presenters behind the Undead Jazzfest, takes in music at Kenny's Castaways.
    Patrick Jarenwattananon/NPR
  • Baritone saxophonist Josh Sinton leads a band called Ideal Bread, a Steve Lacy repertory ensemble. With cornetist Kirk Knuffke, the group led off Sunday's lineup at Kenny's Castaways.
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    Baritone saxophonist Josh Sinton leads a band called Ideal Bread, a Steve Lacy repertory ensemble. With cornetist Kirk Knuffke, the group led off Sunday's lineup at Kenny's Castaways.
    Patrick Jarenwattananon/NPR
  • The line for the John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble show at Le Poisson Rouge extended down the block and wrapped halfway around the next.
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    The line for the John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble show at Le Poisson Rouge extended down the block and wrapped halfway around the next.
    Patrick Jarenwattananon/NPR
  • The John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble performs "A Blessing."
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    The John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble performs "A Blessing."
    Patrick Jarenwattananon/NPR

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What is the Undead Jazzfest? A two-night, three-venue, 36-act response to the trope that "jazz is dead." Ben Ratliff's spot-on writeup for The New York Times explains further. I met Ratliff during the festival, and asked his opinion of what he had seen so far. He told me something to the effect of "this is exactly what we need." I very much agree.

Packed crowds filled with people both young and old, coming to hear a variety of new expressions in the music. Musicians sticking around to hear their friends or new friends play, even if they weren't performing during the festival. An atmosphere where you wanted to see sets even if they were overcrowded, sweaty, late at night and impossible to get a good sightline. An outrageous deal, at $30 for two entire nights of music. A model which, demonstrably, can even be replicated from time to time.

At the 2010 Winter Jazz Fest, a similar event even larger in scale, the biggest complaint I heard was that this sort of thing didn't happen more frequently. We got our collective wish, and I must say that it was a good one.


*Or at least the ones I took and annotated before my camera battery died and I stupidly didn't bring a spare. With apologies to the photogenic and captivating sets of Tim Berne's Los Totopos, Happy Apple, The Thirteenth Assembly and Gerald Cleaver's Violet Hour.

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