Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Music feature: Guitarist Kreisberg sets first SoFla gigs in five years

Jonathan Kreisberg.‭
(‬Photo by Govert Driessen‭)

By Bill Meredith

New York City-born guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg first showed an interest in music at age‭ ‬10‭ ‬after he‭’‬d moved to Miami with his family. He would go on to study at the New World School of the Arts,‭ ‬appear in‭ ‬Guitar Player‭ ‬and‭ ‬Down Beat‭ ‬magazines while in his teens,‭ ‬and earn a scholarship to the University of Miami,‭ ‬graduating from its esteemed music program.

He then played in successful South Florida progressive rock and fusion groups,‭ ‬achieving an impressive regional audience. But when it came to starting his traditional jazz career, Kreisberg decided there was no place like home.

Now living in Brooklyn,‭ ‬he‭’‬s released several CDs since moving back in‭ ‬1997,‭ ‬including‭ ‬Trioing‭ ‬(New For Now‭)‬ from‭ ‬2002, the‭ ‬2004 gem‭ ‬Nine Stories Wide‭ (‬on Criss Cross,‭ ‬with bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Bill Stewart‭)‬,‭ ‬the‭ ‬2007 disc‭ ‬The South of Everywhere‭ (‬Mel Bay‭)‬ and his latest, Night Songs‭ (‬Criss Cross‭)‬,‭ ‬a‭ ‬2009 collection of jazz standards.

Kreisberg promises that his forthcoming eighth CD,‭ ‬recorded within the past few weeks,‭ ‬will blend all of his different musical tributaries like no other.‭ ‬And he‭’‬ll prove it by debuting some of the new material live on the upstairs stage at Tobacco Road in Miami with his quartet‭ (‬in‭ ‬9‭ ‬and‭ ‬10:30‭ ‬p.m.‭ ‬shows on May‭ ‬27,‭ ‬and a 7‭ ‬p.m.‭ ‬all-ages show and‭ ‬9‭ ‬p.m.‭ ‬set on May‭ ‬28‭)‬.‭ ‬The $15‭ ‬tickets are available at the door,‭ ‬and at‭ ‬,‭ ‬and are good for the entire evening.‭

“I'm not sure which label this CD will be on yet,‭ ‬and I only have a few different working titles for it now,‭” ‬Kreisberg says.‭ “‬But it'll be my own material, with one crazy arrangement of the standard‭ ‘‬Nice Work If You Can Get It.‭’‬ Tradition is certainly part of the album,‭ ‬but it also goes in several different directions that make it un-standard.‭ ‬There's a lot of drive and forward motion,‭ ‬so it's a good document of what we've been doing live lately.‭”

Indeed,‭ ‬advance takes of tracks like‭ ‬Twenty-One‭ ‬(named for its‭ ‬21/8‭ ‬time signature‭) ‬and‭ ‬Stir the Stars‭ ‬mix jazz tradition with the inherent modernism of a composer born in the‭ ‬1970s.‭ ‬Kreisberg's liquid lines and tones show the influence of not only guitar predecessors like Allan Holdsworth,‭ ‬but also piano icons such as Keith Jarrett.‭ ‬And the interactive contributions of saxophonist Will Vinson,‭ ‬pianist Henry Hey,‭ ‬bassist Matt Penman and drummer Mark Ferber help stir the pot into‭ ‬a jazz/fusion/world music gumbo.

Vinson‭ (‬who's worked with Madeleine Peyroux and Gonzalo Rubalcaba,‭ ‬and also plays occasional keyboards with Kreisberg‭)‬ and Penman‭ (‬John Scofield,‭ ‬Joshua Redman‭)‬ will be part of Kreisberg's quartet at Tobacco Road,‭ ‬with Eric Doob playing drums in place of Ferber‭ (‬Norah Jones,‭ ‬Fred Hersch‭)‬.

‭“‬Eric plays a lot with Paquito D'Rivera,‭” ‬Kreisberg says,‭ “‬so he's great with Latin rhythms.‭ ‬And I love the overall feel of his playing.‭”

Kreisberg's recording career started out with the 1995 independent CD‭ ‬Third Wish‭ ‬by Wyscan,‭ ‬a Miami-based rock quintet that blended the sounds of Yes,‭ ‬King Crimson and UK.‭ ‬He then recruited that band's rhythm section of bassist Javier Carrion and drummer Vince Verderame to record his independent self-titled fusion debut in‭ ‬1996.

The guitarist's love for jazz standards emerged on that trio debut,‭ ‬which mixed‭ ‬Someday My Prince Will Come and‭ ‬We'll Be Together Again‭ ‬with muscular fusion originals and a cover of The Beatles‭’ ‬Come Together.‭ ‬After several trio tours of the East Coast and Southeastern United States,‭ ‬Kreisberg decided to move back to New York City.‭ ‬Carrion stayed in South Florida,‭ ‬working with K.C.‭ & ‬the Sunshine Band,‭ ‬among others, and Verderame relocated to Las Vegas and eventually landed the drum slot with the Blue Man Group.

‭“‬The primary reason that trio didn't last longer was that I wanted to get up to New York and lean more into the jazz world,‭” ‬Kreisberg says. ‭“‬But I'm sure Javier will come to Tobacco Road if he's in town and doesn't have‭ ‬a gig.‭”

The current Kreisberg trio‭ (‬usually with Penman and Ferber‭)‬ plays a Wednesday night house gig at La Lanterna in Greenwich Village,‭ ‬at least when its leader isn't on the road.‭ ‬A look at Kreisberg's website shows forthcoming‭ ‬2010‭ ‬concerts by his various configurations around the United States,‭ ‬plus the latest of several European tours starting in September.

The guitarist also tours with the trio led by the iconic Hammond organist Dr.‭ ‬Lonnie Smith‭ (‬and appears on Smith's new release,‭ ‬Spiral,‭ ‬on the Palmetto label‭)‬.‭ ‬In addition,‭ ‬Kreisberg plays with drummer Ari Hoenig and his band Punk Bop,‭ ‬and will appear on their forthcoming live CD on the Smalls label.

‭“‬Vinson and I wil both be on Ari's record,‭” ‬he says.‭ “‬Ari and I go way back.‭ ‬He and I met before I even moved to New York.‭ ‬And Dr.‭ ‬Lonnie's trio also has a young,‭ ‬amazing drummer named Jamire Williams.‭ ‬I only played with Lonnie for the first time a couple years ago,‭ ‬even though we both lived in Florida at the same time.‭ ‬I'd heard him there,‭ ‬but never put together that this was the same guy who was playing amazing stuff with George Benson in the‭ ‘‬60s.‭ ‬And Lonnie still sounds amazing.‭ ‬He's like a mad scientist‭; ‬always trying new things. It's a special trio.‭”

Kreisberg also does occasional recording session work, and rounds out his career through teaching.

‭“‬I do workshops at a lot of the places where I travel,‭” ‬he says. ‭“‬I'll do one during this trip at Glades Guitars in Hollywood on Sunday,‭ ‬May‭ ‬30.‭ ‬And I also teach through the New School University in New York.‭”

The last South Florida appearance by Kreisberg was in‭ ‬2005‭; ‬his last trip to the venerable Tobacco Road‭ (‬Miami's oldest restaurant,‭ ‬established in‭ ‬1912‭) ‬was in‭ ‬2002.

‭“‬It's been a long time,‭” ‬he says.‭ “‬But those were all shows that I put together with musicians from down there,‭ ‬or doing standards with faculty from Miami-Dade College.‭ ‬This will be the first time I'm bringing down musicians from New York to play my own music.‭ ‬And we're going to do it right.‭”

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