Daniel Powell 1:30 p.m., Nov. 19
Joshua White goes it alone at Dizzy's
Straddling the "inside" and the "outside" like a colossus, White delivered the goods.
It is a rare, and beautiful thing to have the opportunity to witness a singular talent developing at a pace so accelerated that each performance is a learning experience for the listener.
I've probably seen pianist Joshua White 20 times this year, and if I get another 20 chances, I'll feel lucky.
One thing I've noticed about the masters over the years -- one unifying principle -- is that they all have the flow, sort of an internalization of motion that makes anything possible -- even inevitable.
Mr. White began his June 23 solo piano performance at Dizzy's with the sparsest of materials, just an interval in the left hand -- gauzy, and resonant -- leading to organic additions of lines that grew with tangled information as ideas orbited around each other -- short bursts angling for dominance, broken clusters, lightening melodic strikes and reverent, catholic harmonies swirling in the ether as "Just One of Those Things," emerged in pieces.
Abstract and angular vignettes wrapped around a rumbling pedal tone on the White original, "Curiosity Landing," where the pianist laced all manner of thematic flurries together -- toggling between jagged edges and breathtaking lyricism.
A medley of Monk followed, beginning with a wild, discordant romp through "Monk's Mood," that sounded like a player piano careening down a staircase while coughing up bits of "Lulu's Back In Town." Martial cadences from the left-hand tethered right-hand cascades of inspired melodic invention that somehow transitioned into a fragmented reflection of "Round Midnight."
Another original, "Scarlet Tanager," began with rhapsodic, ECM-ish impressionism, impossibly rich, personal harmonic signatures surfacing like buoys in rough waters, and, about midpoint, shifting gears dramatically into a gloriously re-imagined "Giant Steps," in kaleidoscopic scenes where the already intricate melody came spilling out in contours resembling bird songs in the very upper register.
A final, unlikely medley concluded the set, beginning with the lyric grace of "I Fall In Love Too Easily," touching on the slow morphing of Errol Garner into Cecil Taylor, then, when the kinetic energy had reached a point of delirium, White's hyper-active blues, "The Lower Case," came crashing tsunami-style, into the room, with its seizure-themed refrain breaking into a ambiguous juncture of harmonic/melodic duality where dissonance and consonance became two sides of the same coin.
Ninety minutes that went by in a flash.
Photo by Barbara Wise