Oz Noy is a musician’s musician. Although he is little known by the general public, the Israeli-born and New York City-based guitarist mingles in honored circles. He jams on the Beacon Theatre stage with the likes of Warren Haynes and plays small downtown clubs backed by the most celebrated session musicians. Only a month ago, for instance, Noy played lead guitar in SuperMoon’s one-night engagement at the Bitter End; the quartet also featured vocalist/keyboardist Jeff Kazee (Jon Bon Jovi, Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes), bassist Tony Garnier (Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Saturday Night Live Band), and drummer Shawn Pelton (Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Saturday Night Live Band ).
Oz Noy returned to the Bitter End with two of his most frequent collaborators, bassist Will Lee (Barbra Streisand, George Benson, Late Night with David Letterman) and drummer Anton Fig (Bob Dylan, Kiss, Late Night with David Letterman). Performing all instrumentals, the trio played a blend of jazz and rock that hinged on melodic hooks and also reserved room for improvisation. Noy was the lead player, as Lee and Fig provided backbone to cover songs and Noy’s original compositions. Generating funk, rock, and jazz melodies, Noy played extended leads, then signaled to the other players that it was their turn to dig into more complex arrangements.
Over the course of little more than an hour and perhaps a dozen songs, these musicians, often accustomed to playing behind vocalists and marquee players, found the opportunity to stretch and showcase their talents in a very freeing manner. Rooted to the rhythms, the improvisation never ventured into the extreme nor left any loose ends, instead grooving breezily and comfortably within prescribed structures. The music they produced together was not geared for a mainstream audience, and that alone made the performance innovatively refreshing.
Noy tends to play at the Bitter End about once a month, although he seldom plays with the same musicians twice in a row. No two shows are ever exactly the same. It will be interesting to see who he selects as his next collaborators.