By Cathy Segal-Garcia
Los Angeles. Michal Feinberg, writes All About Jazz, “is a vibrant young bassist/composer whose voice conveys a distinct musical vision, (he) continues to bring fresh ideas to life with music that incorporates jazz, hip hop, and rock, as well as influences from his Middle Eastern and Eastern European heritage.”
At this time Michael is 25 years old, living on the east coast. Already having played for years with such fine jazz musicians as Slide Hampton, Ambrose Akinmusire, Lee Ritenour, Kenny Werner and many others, he is making his way via recording, touring, teaching, garnering attention from magazines and receiving awards.
Last Friday, in Michael’s second visit from New York to perform at L.A.’s Blue Whale, the Feinberg band’s first set found him playing with Louis Cole on drums, Miro Sprague on piano and Phillip Dizack on trumpet. Guitarist Brent Canter (new on the L.A. scene, but already making inroads) was invited to come up to play at the end of the set.
They opened with a Branford Marsalis song — “Black Widow Blues.” Having not heard the piece before, I’m not sure how it sounds when Branford does it, but this version was fun. Louis Cole was playing the sort of intriguing beat that is right up his alley — funky but with a straight 16th notes feeling, and so creative. Michael on (electric) bass, laid down a groove that drove the music on, with energetic matching and counter-rhythms. And the theme was played between solos from everyone, with lots of shifting dynamics and full-on volume when they were building excitement.
Each player played well in this format, never crowding each other or the music, but playing full out.
Pianist Sprague, currently at the Thelonius Monk Institute, has numerous impressive accomplishments in his resume, touring/teaching/recording with some fine artists. And no wonder. This young man’s touch on the piano has sensitivity, space, and interesting harmonic perspectives.
Trumpeter Dizack has received sparkling reviews, filled with comments such as “potent,” “guts” and “grand vision.” And he was indeed amazing to listen to — clear minded, with beautiful technique and great ideas.
Drummer Cole attended USC, and grew up in a musical family. I’ve seen/heard him several times, always intrigued by his combination of pop styles with jazz rhythms. Much of the music now played by younger jazz-oriented musicians such as Cole is great for fans of newer styles, and especially for younger listeners. It’s edgy at times, the volume is often louder, and it’s intense. But it sustains the basic improvisational nature of jazz, while being completely in the here and now.
The Blue Whale is only three years old, but has already proven itself in many substantial ways. The owner, Joon Lee, has been featured on NPR. On New Year’s Eve 2011/2012 NPR did a broadcast from the club featuring Dee Dee Bridgewater. And the highest quality musicians, from literally all over the world, are seeking out the Blue Whale as a desirable place to play. The environment is creative, and the room feels warm and intimate, great for acoustic playing and close listening. There is no stage, with bands usually setting up at the end of the room. Seating is mostly ottomans, with some chairs if a body needs one. There’s good lighting and excellent sound.
On the angled ceiling, several Rumi quotes speak to the higher callings of ourselves, regarding music…
“I should sell my tongue and buy a thousand ears when that one steps near and begins to speak.”
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