Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Howard Alden/Marty Krystall/Buell Neidlinger: The Happenings: Music of Herbie Nichols (K2B2)

Review of album by chamber-jazz trio paying tribute to pianist Herbie Nichols

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.
Cover of Alden/Krystall/Neidlinger album The Happenings
Cover of Alden/Krystall/Neidlinger album The Happenings

When this chamber-jazz trio album was recorded in 2013, it was intended as a tribute to one man: pianist Herbie Nichols, who died (in 1963, age 44, of leukemia) decades before his idiosyncratic writing style was appreciated by a wide audience. Just before its belated release, the album was dedicated to a second, newly departed musician: trombonist Roswell Rudd, who played a crucial role in bringing Nichols’ many unrecorded compositions to light in the early 21st century. Sadly, cellist/bassist Buell Neidlinger’s death in March of 2018 now makes The Happenings a memorial to three late jazz greats.

A fine memorial it is, too—and it should be emphasized that little in the music itself could be called sad. Indeed, a joyful vivacity characterizes all nine tracks, even in the most sensitive moments. The two takes of the delicate waltz “Another Friend” that open and close the album are a case in point. Both are duets between Howard Alden, on seven-string archtop guitar, and Neidlinger, on cello. While Alden revels in the contours of Nichols’ chord progression, Neidlinger takes clear delight in how those chords call forth the sophisticated swoop of the melody. Although their respective approaches to the tune’s features change subtly from one version to the next, an air of blissful romanticism pervades both.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published