Peter & Will Anderson, Songbook Summit at Symphony Space - New York City Article
Peter & Will Anderson, “Songbook Summit”
Symphony Space (Leonard Nimoy Thalia)
Through September 2
I first heard Pete and Will Anderson, the identical twin saxophonists, playing big band swing with the Juilliard Jazz Orchestra, and then playing 1920s style Hot Jazz with Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks. But if this were 60 years ago, the Anderson Brothers band would be recording for Contemporary Records, playing familiar melodies with bright, clean melodic lines, equally informed by swing-style exuberance and bebop-style harmonic profundity. (And with album covers depicting pretty models lying on the beach.) No, it doesn’t have to be all bleak and bluesy to be great jazz.
This is the second year of their “Songbook Summit,” series, featuring the twin tenors (and altos, clarinets, sopranos, flutes) with a formidable line-up of iconic songwriters and songbooks, having started last week with Irving Berlin, continuing through Saturday with Jerome Kern (through Sunday, August 19), and concluding by two especially jazzy composers, Hoagy Carmichael (August 21 through 26) and Jimmy Van Heusen (August 28 through September 2). The format is the same is last year, in that the brothers are joined by an ace rhythm section (Tardo Hammer or Steve Ash, piano, Clovis Nicolas or Neil Minor, bass, and drummer Philip Stewart) and the warm and welcome vocalist Molly Ryan (who was particularly effective in a surprising introspective and intimate “Ol’ Man River”). As last year, the program is enriched by documentary-style multimedia, factoids, clippage, and power pointing. Still, what makes every week worth catching is how the Brothers make these well-worn melodies sound fresh and vital without resorting to such stupid pet tricks as putting the tunes in 5/4 or weird non-western minor keys. The Old School straight-ahead swing still works just fine.
Photo: Pete and Will (or is it Will and Pete) Anderson in front of the Highline, near the McKittrick Hotel, by Lynn Redmile.
Author: Will Friedwald
Will Friedwald writes about music and popular culture for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, VANITY FAIR and PLAYBOY magazine and reviews current shows for THE CITIVIEW NEW YORK. He also is the author of nine books, including the award-winning A BIOGRAPHICAL GUIDE TO THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP SINGERS, SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU, STARDUST MELODIES, TONY BENNETT: THE GOOD LIFE, LOONEY TUNES & MERRIE MELODIES, and JAZZ SINGING. He has written over 600 liner notes for compact discs, received ten Grammy nominations, and appears frequently on television and other documentaries. He is also a consultant and curator for Apple Music.
SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU - NEW REVISED EDITION (Chicago Review Press, May 2018)