Chuck Israels Nextet
The bassist who stepped into Scott LaFaro’s shoes in the classic Bill Evans Trio led his Nextet at Dizzy’s Club (Mar. 6th), inconspicuously upstage but framed by the stunning view. Chuck Israels and company performed a clean, clear and swinging set, the sextet often operating as a hip big band as much as a postmodern combo. Charlie Porter (trumpet/ flugelhorn), Tim Wilcox (tenor saxophone) and John Moak (trombone) occupied the frontline with well orchestrated voicings, often interwoven with call-and- response traded lines. Drummer Jimmy Madison brought his unfailing drive and terse sensitivity to the rhythm section, complementing Israels’ pensive, shadowy lines and the evening’s featured performer, pianist Aaron Diehl. The leader’s vocalist daughter Jessica joined in for one noir-like piece, adding soprano long tones utterly designed to give chills. The overall repertoire largely comprised postbop originals laced with a standard (evocative “Lover Man”) and two Evans-associated tunes. It was on the latter that Diehl’s improvisational simmer, masterfully kept just below boil, came to fruition. “Detour Ahead”, heard in its original glory on the Waltz for Debby album, was recreated with Diehl’s wide-spaced chordal pulsations pivoting through clouded horn statements. Israels’ solo spot cast a dark, smoky late-night ambiance, accented by whispering cymbals and gingerly dropped bass drum accents, almost like it was a lost Sunday afternoon at you-know-where.
(Downbeat) Separated by 50 Years, Israels, Diehl Find Common Ground, Mar 11, 2019