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Chris Lightcap's 'Lost And Found New York' On JazzSet

When Chris Lightcap was a student in the Berkshires, he'd put his bass in his car and drive down the river to New York City, south on the Taconic to the Sawmill, over the Henry Hudson Bridge, up on a soaring bluff with a great view to the right of the New Jersey Palisades and George Washington Bridge and New York City coming up on the left. Right about there, Lightcap would ask himself, "What would it be like to live here?"

Lost and Found New York is Lightcap's suite for the vistas and feelings, smells and sounds of his adopted city. "Nine South" is the first movement, for the highway he used to drive into Manhattan from the north. "Arthur Avenue" is for a leisurely lunch in the so-called Little Italy of the Bronx. "Epicenter" connotes the Village Vanguard in Greenwich Village, where Lightcap has experienced "life-changing moments" listening to music. Is it the spirits of the musicians who have played there, or the shape of the room itself? "Epicenter" is the most arranged of the movements in Lost and Found New York.

"Fort Tryon" becomes more meditative, for The Cloisters — inspired by the castles of Europe — and gardens in Fort Tryon Park. In the Gilded Age, John D. Rockefeller funded the area's development. From the stage, Lightcap tells his version of the story, but The Cloisters' website is more authoritative:

The modern museum building is not a copy of any specific medieval structure but an ensemble of spaces, rooms, and gardens that suggest a variety of artistic aspects of medieval Europe.

Last, Stillwell Avenue is the subway stop for Coney Island on the south shore of Brooklyn, where Chris Lightcap, his wife Victoria and sons Sebastian and Theo love the Wonder Wheel and the Cyclone ride (you can feel their rhythm driving the music), Nathan's Hot Dogs, and the zany people who relax there. The city is cleaning Coney Island up, though Lightcap hopes not too much.

In The New York Times, Nate Chinen tracked a performance of "Lost and Found" from beginning to end, from "... springy syncopations for bass and piano, hard-skittering drumming, a declaratory line played by the horns, first in octaves and then in splintered harmony" to the last stop. "Barreling ahead, straining at the curves, the group sounded wild but focused, down to the end of the line."


  • Chris Lightcap, composer and bass
  • Andrew Bishop and Tony Malaby, tenor saxophones
  • Matt Mitchell, keyboards
  • Ches Smith, drums
  • Set List

  • "The Clutch" (opening theme)
  • Lost and Found New York

  • "Nine South"
  • "Arthur Avenue"
  • "Epicenter"
  • "Fort Tryon"
  • "Stillwell Avenue"
  • Credits

    JazzSet captured Lost and Found New York at the end of a short and successful West Coast tour from Earshot Jazz in Seattle to the Redwood Jazz Alliance in Arcata, Calif., and then on to Santa Cruz's Kuumbwa Jazz Center, a nonprofit space for music since 1975; thanks to artistic director and co-founder Tim Jackson with Bobbi Todaro and Jeff Sloan. Recording by Michael Romanowski of Coast Recorders; Surround Sound mix by Duke Markos.

    Lost and Found New York by Chris Lightcap is made possible with support from the Chamber Music America's 2011 New Jazz Works: Commissioning and Ensemble Development program, funded through the generosity of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

    Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Becca Pulliam
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