Amazing turnout at the first NYC Andrew D'Angelo benefit show last night -- the Tea Lounge was packed stiflingly tight, and trying to make your way up to the bar or back to the bathrooms was a major excursion. There were so many musicians in attendance that John McNeil, in his usual deadpan, suggested that someone ought to blow the place up, enabling them to step in and snap up all of our lucrative gigs.
I got there a bit late and only caught the tail end of Matt Wilson's set, but what I heard was, as usual, nimble, spirited, and warm-hearted. Wilson's regular quartet includes D'Anglelo, and he also leads a band called Arts and Crafts with Dennis Irwin on bass, so this can't be an easy time for him. Stepping up to the mic at the conclusion of their set, his voice was understandably a bit overwhelmed with emotion.
Bill McHenry passed out earplugs to his usual Sunday night co-conspirator and donned Blues Brothers shades before taking the stage with Jamie Saft and Mike Pride, who both know how to throw down when it comes to facial hair. (ZZ Top beard and horseshoe mustache, respectively.) The noir-metal vibe sounded like the music Robert Rodriguez should have used for his Grindhouse segment. (Instead of, you know, hiring himself.)
Trevor Dunn's Trio Convulsant contrasts the smart, spiky modernism of guitarist Mary Halvorson with the unslaked primal bloodlust of drummer Ches Smith, whose playing I had not previously heard. Clearly this was a major oversight. Ches, Mike Pride, Matt Wilson and Jim Black, all in one night... sweet Christ.
Chris Speed first met Andrew D'Angelo and Jim Black playing in a youth big band, back when they were all Seattle-area high school students. They moved to Boston to go to Berklee together, formed Human Feel together, and then moved to New York together. Last night they, joined with Trevor Dunn, who also plays bass on Andrew's new record, Skadra Degis, and one of Andrew's closest friends, saxophonist Oscar Noriega, in a set of D'Angelo originals. I think everyone felt the need to bring the heat, to infuse the music with Andrew's nitroglycerin spirit. Which they did, most especially on the blistering, incisive "Sich Reped."
Andrew has been heart-rendingly candid about his situation on his blog, but the good news is that Nate Chinen's Times piece apparently attracted the attention of a doctor at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, the best cancer treatment center in the country.
If you can, please donate.
Photos below the fold.