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Is Ehud Asherie in Town?

Tom Reney blogs about emerging piano talent

Ehud Asherie is one of the musicians I look for whenever I’m in New York, and if he’s not on the road, I usually get lucky and find him at a piano somewhere in town. On a recent visit, I had the good fortune of hearing him two nights in a row, first at the weekly Louis Armstrong celebration at Birdland, and then a solo set at Smalls Jazz Club, where he usually plays the 7:30-9:45 p.m. slot every other Thursday. At Birdland, Ehud joined David Ostwald’s Gully Low Jazz Band to play “Black and Blue,” “After You’ve Gone,” and other tunes associated with Pops; Gully Low’s personnel often changes from week to week, and on this occasion included Wycliffe Gordon and Anat Cohen.

The following night, Asherie was on his own at Smalls for a couple of sets that included material by Fats Waller, George Gershwin, Ellington, Bud Powell, Monk and Leonard Bernstein. Ehud channels the stride masters as well as the modernists, and the lineage that runs from James P. Johnson and Jimmy Yancey to Monk and Errol Garner figures prominently in his work. Not surprisingly, he’s an insightful listener. The first time I met Asherie and mentioned how Dave McKenna had opened my ears to solo jazz piano, he expressed awe not only over McKenna’s two-fisted attack but the subtler internal voicings that are often overlooked by listeners wowed by his rumbling bass lines and dazzling technique.

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