At a time when the relationship between jazz and film is getting its due — the Clint Eastwood-Lennie Niehaus connection explored at Carnegie Hall and the John Anson Ford Amphitheater, Rhino’s new “Crime Jazz” compilations — it’s an absolute pleasure to see the connection being explored on a grassroots level as well.
Mark Isham’s Afterglow Ensemble, named for the Alan Rudolph-directed Christmas release that Isham scored, performed three moody and evocative pieces in their second set Tuesday — the rejected title theme for the Robert De Niro-starrer “Jacknife,” the title track from his “Blue Sun” disc that attracted Rudolph to Isham, and the main theme for “Afterglow.”
Concert, with Isham’s flugelhorn and trumpet augmented by Sid Page’s wispy violin and David Goldblatt’s serene pianistics, exhibited the strength with which Isham’s music stands apart from the visuals. Tuesday, Isham took a particularly impressionistic and tempered route, his horn alternately crying and offering comfort. Well-rehearsed band’s strength is clearly the empathy between these musicians — even in improvisational segs, entrances and exits were graceful and accurate. Still, a tune from one of his more spry themes could give this unit a shot in the arm.