Nasheet Waits Band - Those Fading Sounds of Jazz Downtown


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Nasheet Waitss band Abraham Burton, Eric McPherson and Mr. Waits performed on a bill with Jagged Sky.

It felt just a bit like old times at the Tap Bar in the Knitting Factory on Tuesday night. The crowd was robust and youngish, half noisy, half rapt, enthusiastic. The music was willfully dynamic, high impact and given to steep crescendos. One band, led by the drummer Nasheet Waits, approached its tunes through a cloud of tumultuous action; the other, led by the bassist Drew Gress, revisited music from a decade ago, which seemed about right.

The television cameras offered a clue, if any were needed, that this was an unusual present-day outing. (They were taping Mr. Waitss group for Mezzo TV, a French company.) The commentary of Adam Schatz, who organized the evening, was equally instructive. At one point he plugged a coming show as the final night of jazz at the Knit. He didnt need to mention that the Knitting Factory is moving to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, from TriBeCa, or that jazz has played only a token role in its programming in recent years.

Last December Mr. Schatz, a bushy-bearded keyboardist in his early 20s, began booking jazz-related double bills at the club through a series he calls Search and Restore. This was its second-to-last installment: next weeks finale will involve six groups on two stages. The obvious model is the Winter Jazzfest, an unrelated blowout held here for the last four years. Like that event, the future of Search and Restore is unclear, though Mr. Schatz and his producing partner, James Donahue, have aims to keep it going somehow.

Theres clear demand for such a thing. Tuesdays first set, which was packed, featured Mr. Waits alongside the tenor saxophonist Abraham Burton and his fellow drummer Eric McPherson. (The same group, performing as Aethereal Bace, played this years Winter Jazzfest.) Beginning with an open-ended percussive rustle mallets on toms, brushes on cymbals the group moved steadily onward, gathering density as well as speed.

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