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An Electrifying, Psychedelic Debut by Anderson Henderson White

22 Jul

Thanks to Lucid Culture for discovering my new trio Anderson Henderson White at our very first show! Here’s a video of our free country version of Ring of Fire from our second: 

Lucid Culture

It wouldn’t be fair to let the month go by without mentioning the debut performance of Anderson Henderson White at Zirzamin a few weeks ago, following the Sunday Salon put on by Lucid Culture’s sister blog New York Music Daily. Baritone saxophonist Paula Henderson seems to be the sparkplug for this exciting new trio, who blended groove and funk with mysterious free improvisation. Her fellow Australian, the Dirty Three’s Jim White on drums was his usual counterintuitive self: it’s hard to think of a drummer who’s so consistently interesting to watch as this guy, alternating between cymbal bell-tones and atmospherics of all kinds, shamanistic rattles of the hardware and rock-solid groove, all the while adding off-kilter accents on the rims and whirring brushes on the snare. He’s a one-man drum orchestra.

Rev. Vince Anderson has made a name for himself in both the roots of jazz (you should hear…

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Out Now: A Killer Live Show at the Stone by Tzar Featuring Paula Henderson

20 May

Here’s a review of TZAR featuring Moist Paula Live at The Stone … Thanks to Lucid Culture!

Lucid Culture

Moist Paula Henderson (whose nickname stems from her longtime leadership of legendary instrumental trio Moisturizer) has been the standout baritone saxophonist in the New York downtown scene for several years. Her own work has an irrepressible joie de vivre and wry humor; her new album with her latest project, Tzar, recorded live at the Stone this past February takes a turn in a considerably different, much darker direction. Here she’s joined by Ithaca, New York musicians Brian “Willie B” Wilson on drums, electronics and bass pedals (who really gets a workout, playing everything  simultaneously, it seems) and Michael Stark on keyboards. Their intriguing multi-segmented pieces blend elements of trip-hop, downtempo, noise and the edgy jazz that Henderson has pursued more deeply in recent years. It’s a deliciously mysterious, eclectic ride. The whole thing is streaming at their Bandcamp page.

The first track, There’s a Prayer for That…

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Inaugural CIMMFest Baadasss Award Given To Melvin Van Peebles

23 Apr

I just got back from Chicago where I played with Melvin Van Peebles wid Laxative at CIMMFest – we had a great time and Melvin was thrilled to be honored in his home town when the Inaugural Baadasssss Award was presented to him by the Festival.



Last night one of Chicago’s favorite sons came home to receive a lifetime achievement award from the Chicago International Movies & Music Festival. To celebrate we were treated to a short film about his work, followed by a Q&A with NPR’s Richard Steele. Topping it off was a performance by the legend’s band, Melvin Van Peebles widlaxative.

If you aren’t familiar with Van Peebles’ work, you need to get yourself acquainted. Not only is he a talented playwright and musician, but he pretty much set the course for black filmmakers being able to make the movies they want. His picture Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song was the first movie by a black crew and a black cast. Needless to say there was some trouble finding distribution in the all-white movie industry. Van Peebles took a chance and distributed the movie himself. Only two theaters would play it initially, but it went…

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Subway Saxing

13 Mar

From time to time over the years I’ve been playing bari sax I’ve made forays into the time tested and true world of busking, that is playing in public spaces for donations.  It’s a classic form of performance which dates back centuries and has helped musicians and street performers survive all over the world throughout history. 

The first time I tasted the thrill of putting on a guerrilla style live performance and having money thrown at me was in Melbourne in the late 80s — I was invited to busk with some other girl musicians and some circus performers ate fire and did backflips and other tricks.  It was Christmas Eve (a hot summer night in Australia) and people threw money at us wildly — we made several hundreds of dollars in a couple of hours.  After that myself, the drummer and the tenor sax player decided to go out regularly and do it on Brunswick Street in Fitzroy.  We’d go out in the day time on the weekends and discovered quickly the joy of counting up small change which can add up to large amounts very quickly.  That busking band, which we called Modesty Panel, was the precursor to my nightclub rock act Moisturizer which was born in New York a few years later. 

Since moving to New York in the mid 90s I’ve mainly played in club acts and my experience busking has been fairly limited.  It’s difficult here to play in public spaces without a permit.  After my first few times out in the subway I was told to move on by the cops; I didn’t even get a ticket, but I was discouraged, and feeling that I didn’t want to be having conversations with cops whatsoever, I refrained from going back to the subway platforms.

Meanwhile, over the years I’ve seen & heard many great musicians playing in the subway including two saxophone players I admire enormously, Colin Stetson and Matana Roberts.  There’s a banjo player I love called Morgan who is amazing and plays at the Bedford stop on the L train sometimes.  My late, beautiful friend Gerard Smith used to make his living busking on classical guitar in the subway system before he went on to be in TV on the Radio.  Hypnotic Brass Ensemble took over Union Square many a night and my new friend and collaborator TinaKristina grew up busking in the subway with her whole family — I remember seeing them in the 90s — she was playing the shit out of the bass when she was 13 — her little brother was on drums, her mom on trumpet and her little sister on didgeridoo. 

There is definitely something that the experience of playing downstairs has that no club, theater or festival gig can offer.  The immediacy and closeness of the public and their reactions or non-reactions is completely different than anything that can be experienced in concert.  My favorite part of it is watching the flux of all the people.  Little kids are often transfixed and I’m happy to say most of their parents teach them what to do … put a dollar in the case!  I love seeing who responds to what kind of music, because it’s very often surprising. 

When I go down I play a lot of original music I wrote with Moist Gina in our band Moisturizer, which was an instrumental rock band.  Some of those songs go over very well.  And then I play covers — usually some Diana Ross & The Supremes, Lou Reed, Patsy Cline, King Curtis and The Beatles material.  It’s fun to just start playing and see what comes out. 

I made a pact with myself recently to go and play in the subway on all my days off, so I’ll see how long I keep it up. If they give me one of those Music Under New York banners you may see me out there all year!

Here’s an interesting article I found about the history of busking.  I particularly like the term “jongleur” and may start referring to myself accordingly from now on when I go.


Michael Kammers presents The Claustrophobic Noise EP

25 Sep

I first met Michael Kammers on a Mackie Riverside & The StreetPushers gig, which is fun because we play 60s & 70s STAX covers. I immediately liked him and lo & behold he turned out to be a wailing tenor sax player and a GREAT team player. I was always happy to section up with him, even on wedding gigs where we had to learn Seawind Horns lines on MJ covers etc. Next I found out he also shreds on Farfisa which strikes a chord with me because we had one in my house when I was a kid and I used to play with it a lot. So when he invited me, I was more than happy to walk around the corner and lay down bari tracks on a couple of his original compositions which were crazy psychedelic prog with a sense of humor jams. He was recording The Claustrophobic Noise EP in his bedroom with most of his studio set up under a loft bed, this being one of the reasons for the name, the other being a nod to a rehearsal studio from his early youth in Syracuse. Anyway, as life tends to unfold in New York we’ve now played many gigs together and I always love playing with this guy whether he’s on sax or keys — doesn’t matter, he’s an all round great musician. I urge anyone who reads this to check out this EP and keep your ears open for more groovy sounds from Michael Kammers because he’s full of them — you’ll find his MK Groove Orchestra (14 piece big band playing all his original compositions) playing regularly in Brooklyn, the trio version of that group popping up all over the tri-state area and you’ll hear him being an asset to lots of other bands too including some I play in — Rev. Vince Anderson & The Love Choir, Meah Pace, Zoe Sundra and Burnt Sugar to name a few.

Brian’s Party

25 Sep

My first go round on melodica.

Burnt Sugar Smolders at Bryant Park

19 Sep

Here’s a review of a show I did with Burnt Sugar and Melvin Van Peebles wid Laxative.

Burnt Sugar Smolders at Bryant Park.

Here’s some video footage from the show:

Mercury Retrograde Christmas

26 Dec

Every Monday night I play bari sax with Rev. Vince Anderson & The Love Choir

20 Dec

Back in 1996 I had the great fortune to meet Rev. Vince Anderson when I answered an ad seeking a drummer in the New York Press. I don’t play drums, just bari sax, but the ad was humorous and the name of the band was Leopold & Stanges Jangletown, which I liked. They said they liked Tom Waits, Nick Cave and Johnny Cash and I like all of that so I applied, apologizing about my non-prowess on the drums. I got the job, which turned out to be an off off Broadway theatrical production which was not entirely my cup of tea, however Rev. Vince was and a few months later when he put his new band together I was thrilled to receive an invitation to join. I’ve been playing with him every week ever since and it has been an amazing journey of music and friendship. For many years I was the only horn player, although from time to time people would sit in, Aaron Johnson or Steve Moses on trombone, or some sax players who would come through. About four years ago Dave Smith sat in on trombone and has been playing with us every Monday ever since. These days our regular Monday night gig at Union Pool is popular with Cochemea Gastelun from Sharon Jones & The Dapp Kings (more about his solo project Johnny Arrow soon), Eliot Bergman from NOMO, Michael Kammers from MK Groove Orchestra, Eric Biondo from Antibalas and Beyondo, and many others. It’s not unusual for us to cram four or five horns onstage at a time and then all solo simultaneously! Tonight is Rev. Vince’s Christmas Spectacular and we have some very special guests coming through. Showtime is at 11pm in the backroom at Union Pool, 484 Union Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Tacos are served all night and admission is free, but you have to bring ID! Every Monday at Union Pool