calendar  |  musicians  |  venues  |  concert reviews  |  CD reviews  |  photos  |  features

Ralph Lalama

North Pointe Cultural Arts Center
Kinderhook, NY
April 8, 2006

by Jeff Waggoner

Jazz fans in Kinderhook recently heard a rare sound. 
It came out of the bell of Ralph Lalama’s silver-plated Selmer Mark VI on April 1 at the North Pointe Cultural Arts Center.
Lalama has a huge, fat tone.  It’s the kind of sound that seems to have largely have died with Ben Webster and Coleman Hawkins.  Lalama – 50 percent of a piano/sax duo at the concert – roars.
His big sound was the perfect complement to the spidery, Bill Evans-style runs that pianist Don Friedman served up in a concert that consisted mostly of straight-ahead standards -- with two originals stirred into the mix.
The Lalama-Friedman pairing is typical of the duos that the Hudson Valley Friends of Jazz (HVFJ) have invited in the past three years to North Pointe.
 The one thing the duos all have in common is excellence – more often than not, HVFJ brings in musicians who have been unjustifiably left out of the limelight. 
That’s certainly the case with the Lalama-Friedman team.
While Friedman may not be known by many jazz fans, jazz musicians, such as giants, Ornette Coleman, Scott LaFaro, and  Jimmy Giuffre know Friedman well.  He was invited to play in their groups.
Lalama’s full, butter tone has been heard in the big bands of Woody Herman, Buddy Rich, Carla Bley and the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestras.  He plays on two Joe Lovano nonet recordings, including the Grammy Award-winning 52nd Street Themes.
Before a full house at North Pointe, Lalama and Friedman got to step out of the shadows of other musicians and into their own well-deserved limelight.
Jeff Waggoner has written book, CD and concert reviews for publications such as Metroland, Jazz Times, Blues Access and The New York Times. He lives in Nassau, is a student of jazz saxophone and guitar and can be frequently found at jazz, blues and folk concerts.