Ohad Talmor / Steve Swallow / Adam Nussbaum
Text, captions and photos by Patrick Hinely
All images ©2009 by Patrick Hinely, Work/Play®
Officially formed last year, the trio of saxophonist Ohad Talmor, bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Adam Nussbaum does not tour often, and U.S. performances are especially rare. Part of the original plan for this one-night-only gig in New York over Labor Day weekend 2009 was to celebrate the band’s debut album (Playing In Traffic), but alas, the release was delayed by the gradual rhythms of Italian summer. The gig was also to serve as a warmup for a European tour starting later the same month, and this it did, in splendid fashion.
Swallow and Nussbaum are widely known to jazz audiences, of course. Talmor, born in Israel and raised in Switzerland, works mainly as a composer and arranger, and more in Europe and Brazil than the U.S. He collaborated with Swallow on L’Histoire du Clochard: The Bum’s Tale, an album of Steve’s tunes arranged after the style of Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat. Talmor also leads the band Newsreel and has collaborated extensively with Lee Konitz.
The trio gig was at Cornelia Street Café, which has long presented an array of live music and poetry, befitting its West Village location, always as a restaurant with a performance space rather than as a club with food. The cellar space doesn’t seat many, and while the room is comfortable, it is hardly as sumptuous as the cuisine upstairs. The audience was there not just to hear any live music, but to hear these particular guys converse and explore.
With the years I have come to feel that rehearsals offer more photo-opportune situations than performances, so a majority of these images come from the warmup for the warmup gig, which took place at Nussbaum’s home, about halfway between Talmor’s Brooklyn abode and Swallow’s upstate estate. Drums being more trouble to haul about than bass guitars or saxophones, this worked out well.
While we have long seen a lot of very well-executed performance imagery of jazz artists, what we haven’t seen so much is depictions of those same people going about living life and being human beings, doing the 95 percent of what they have to do to make that other five percent possible on the bandstand. To my eye, the potential for the kinetic or even the poetic exists equally off the stage as on it.
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