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Zzaj LIVE SHOW review!!!

BLUE WAVE, 3/13/2010, Olympic Coffee Roasters

  Steve (Bartlett, an excellent area bass player) & Jan (Steve's wife) were right there as my son and I drifted in to this little coffee shop (which many moons ago now was the DQ, I believe).  "Lord Erik" (lead guitarist, song composer and all-round performer), who hails from France, was setting up, too, & Jay Sicilia (percussion, drums, Planet Percussion) were all in the front window playspace area, getting ready to gig.



   Steve & I & Jan do a bit o' meet & greet; they introduce me to both Jay & Erik, then I return to my seat to grab a double latte (so as to be properly buzzed when the music begins).  The atmosphere is pretty cool, 'specially when I can (almost) remember the "booths" that used to be in here... they've transformed it into a fairly decent music space, though the layout leaves a bit to be desired (couches, but they're in opposing corners, & one of them can't see the players at all).  Judging from the sort of folks I'm seeing here, though, they won't let that get in the way... they're here to party & when the mood strikes 'em, they'll just get on up & dance 'round th' corner.


    Right on target, just at 7:00, they roll into the first song from Lord Erik... first impressions count for a lot with me, & I'm impressed with his energy for the performance... his vocals are strong and it's clear he loves what he's doing.  He plays strong leads, and you just know that this trio have practiced together a lot, 'coz Jay's percussion emphasizes the pauses perfectly... Steve's bass is SLAMMIN' tonight... it's a bit strange to see him doin' more folk-oriented bass work ('coz I'm used to hearing him do more blues & funk-style), but he's got it down solidly... even hits the mike (as backup) on several of the tunes. 


    The key tune I heard (we had to leave early - the space was just too crowded for me to be comfortable, bein' an old "cool-jazz kat" I guess, & I had to get up and go) that struck me the hardest (both rhythmically and emotionally) was titled "Inspiration"... all three players were heavily into this piece, & they easily had the crowd in the palm of their hands after this one.  The biggest plus factor this "Blue Wave" has goin' for it is the high energy quotient of the players... each of them are seasoned players with strong understanding of what will turn listeners on, & they don't hesitate to turn that energy into a vibe the audience will be excited by.  I give them a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for anyone wanting to hear high-energy folk-rock with an "indie" flavor and a definite "fun factor"!


  THE PRESS Cafe, 3/12/2010, "Momenti Rubati Trio"



     I made sure to arrive about an hour early, as seating is (a bit) limited in this coffee bar venue... nothing wrong with the venue, in fact it has a real "Oly" vibe (I'm talking about the vibe that used to be here, back in the late '70's & early '80's when I first arrived here).  I attended a show here a week or so ago and had to sit on stools in the back of the room... +, it's cool to get in a bit early to watch the setup and the patrons as they wander into the joint. 

     One thing that was amazing to me was that this group started right on time... a rare occurrence for bands in Olympia (even back in those glory years of places like the "Gnu Deli" - but that's another story for another time).  I received a "meetup" announcement from "Olympia Jazz Central" site and decided to go, since I really wanted to hear Richard Lopez play... along with his great flute playing, there was fine percussion/vocals from Betsy Perkins and gutsy guitar by Tarik Bentlemsan.  I drank a splendid double latte as folks trickled in and Betsy/Tarik setup... again, fine vibrations and a truly laid-back atmosphere helped to make it most pleasant.  I also dug the fact that it's "all ages" certified (or something like that, whatever you call it)... point is that there were two or three youngsters who came along with parents - I think that's vital to keeping a healthy jazz community growing, & there weren't any "wild banshee" runs, either.  Everything was nicely set for the music when it began, & by the time they spun into their opener, "All Blues", everyone in the house was anticipating a cool set.

    Betsy's vocal on "All Blues" is superb, straight-up & in the groove... both Richard & Tarik are right with her all the way through the tune and it's easy to tell they aren't a "hype" band... no one of the players seems to be "full of" themselves, a common hazard for some jazz groups I've watched and met.  I particularly enjoyed Lopez' punctuation with his flute & Bentlemsan's guitar shows sure signs of being full of soul.  About this time, my son Andy wanders in (he agreed to meet me there, probably since we are leaving for Korea soon & needed to spend some time together).  They do a couple of tunes with a nice Latin feel and it comes off nicely, to be sure.  The most impressive tune (I believe Betsy said it's titled "High Sierra) featured a beautiful high-strat solo from Tarik - I mean, this one just soared & Richard's flute was sweet through and through.

    The aforementioned "Olympia Jazz Central" is doing one heck of a job at their mission of trying to revive jazz in the community... especially when players like this are there to make sure folks know that "true jazz" isn't so much about the individual musicians as it is about the spirit they convey via their playing - Momenti Rubati Trio is a fine messenger, wrapping the audience into their spell with ease and high talent!  Be sure to go watch this group and others being sponsored by the OJC - they need our support, and the benefits to the community as a whole are inestimable when the music has the level of quality this little trio projected!  Very nice set, very nice music for a laid-back and totally enjoyable Friday evening!





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