by Josef Woodard
JAZZ FAN ALERT: Run, don’t walk or mosey, over to SOhO on Monday
night, when the rightly acclaimed pianist Jean-Michel Pilc
(pictured) brings his strong-yet-sensitive trio to town. Pilc is an
“overnight sensation” who has enjoyed heaps of praises in the last
few years, but who has been honing his wares for decades.
Born in Paris in 1960, he established his career in France and
Europe, but opted to make the pilgrimage to N.Y.C. in 1995, where
he stayed. His current upward ascent as a critic’s (and audience’s)
darling began with albums starting only in 2000. On a good night
and a good record, Pilc seems to have it all: harmonic
sophistication, right hand athleticism, a subversive sense of play,
melodicism, and emotional depth.
For a hint of his special qualities of virtuosity and organic
pianistic magic, check out Pilc’s latest album Live at Iridium
(Dreyfus Records), recorded in the Basement Club in midtown
Manhattan. A steamy, thoughtful trio date, the album features Pilc
alternatively stretching out and cooling out, on originals and the
stuff of Monk tunes revisited.
There have been a few remarkable, under-attended jazz shows at
SOhO in the past year, featuring musicians with wide recognition on
the jazz scene, including the limber Cuban-in-New-York Dafnis
Prieto last year. In January, the first great local jazz show of
the year came courtesy of the high-flying Moutin Reunion Quartet,
which left a small-ish crowd happily stunned in its fiery glow.
That band features saxist Rick Margitza and monster bassist
François Moutin, also in Pilc’s trio, along with drummer Ari
No doubt, Pilc’s trio will be another memorable jazz event at
SOhO. It threatens to slip in partly through the side door, in
terms of the kind of veteran, name-brand jazz act recognition found
in larger venues in town. Instead, the show promises the thrill of
discovery, as well as musicianship pumped up with both youthful
verve and maturity of vision. Pilc is fast becoming one of the
cats, and for good reason.
TO LIVE AND LOVE IN LIVE OAK: Father’s Day weekend in the
greater Santa Barbara area can only mean one thing: time to pack up
the kids and friends and head over the mountain, for music’s sake.
The Live Oak Music Festival offers its usual wonderfully, wildly
diverse bounty of acts and a chance to bask in the illusory
rusticity in its encampment off of Hwy. 154, an easy drive from
town. Add the fact that the festival is a fundraiser for the
non-commercial radio haven of KCBX in San Luis Obispo, and you have
a real music-lover magnet of a shindig.
A few of this year’s highlights: Senegalese wonder Baaba Maal
(also appearing at UCSB next spring), the gilded Guthrie Family,
the New Orleans-ian flavors of the Iguanas and the Wild Magnolias,
and a visit from the amazing and genre-defying ex-Lone Justice
singer Maria McKee, who has been doing nicely on her own terms,
post-major label career. There’s plenty more where they came from,
which is all over the place (www.liveoakmusic.org).
COUNTRY WITH A CAPITAL W: Though still in its baby steps, the
current Santa Barbara Bowl season has been enriched with bona fide
C&W music, kicking off with Tele-twangin’ wizard Brad Paisley
and continuing next Thursday with the great singer Martina McBride.
Both have their talons in tradition, in different ways. Paisley
can’t help but lean toward the wind of genuine country music,
despite his occasional show biz tricks and pop nods. McBride,
meanwhile, is soaring on the natural power of her latest “classic
country”-fied album, suitably titled Timeless.
Framed by Hank Williams’s “You Win Again” and Kris
Kristofferson’s “Help Me Make It Through the Night,” and stopping
by the songbooks of Harlan Howard, Don Gibson, Loretta Lynn, and
Johnny Cash (“I Still Miss Someone”), McBride’s latest album pays
respects to the real thing, and she’s just right for the job. (Got
e? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.)