Unless I am mistaken, the Klezmer-Jazz Project, presented by the Alon Nechushtan Jazz Quartet for Sunset Music and Arts on March 6, 2020, was the last Sunset offering before the imposition of lockdown conditions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As a result, there was a certain symmetry in Nechushtan returning to the Sunset, this time leading a trio, for the first Sunset Music and Arts concert since that imposition. Nechushtan led his trio from the piano, performing with Akira Tana on drums and Jeff Denson on bass.
The performance amounted to about 90 minutes of straight-ahead jazz. All the selections seemed to have been Nechushtan originals. However, as leader, he provided ample and generous slots in the performance for solo work by both Tana and Denson. In Denson’s case I was particularly impressed by the occasions when he took out his bow, with soulfully lyric results.
The only thing missing from the program was any sense of klezmer. Mind you, between the Veretski Pass trio and soloists such as clarinetist Ben Goldberg and violinist David Chernyavsky (when he is not playing with the San Francisco Symphony), there are a generous share of opportunities to experience the genre here in the Bay Area. Indeed, one of the CURRENTS programs streamed by SFSymphony+ was devoted entirely to klezmer. On the other hand, one had to go through a very long wait before an augmented second showed up in the Nechushtan Trio performance. Several of the tunes had Hebrew titles; but the “language of klezmer” is Yiddish.
Nevertheless, there was so much thematic inventiveness and mind-boggling technical display coming from all of the Trio performers that any shortage of klezmer spirit could be dismissed as a mere pilpul!