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Three LIVE SHOW reviews for your reading pleasure this time around... the scene around the Puget Sound is definitely "getting better", particularly in th' blues/jazz/funk vein... look for more here next issue...
Blazzmatics, Liquid Soul Cafe, 9/26/2009
Rolled up to the Liquid Soul Cafe just a tad after 7:00, thinking (based on previous visits) that seating would be too easy... there's a lady at the door calling for a $5 band cover & highlighting their dinner special (an excellent Chicken Cordon Bleu, which I signed up for... succulent & full portion, so no one who ordered that went home hungry). The band (a 7-piece) is called "The Blazzmatics" (couldn't find a link for them - it appears that their first performance was at this venue... 's OK, though, because other than the horn & bass players, I've heard all the other players before - here! End-run for the lineup was Martin (the owner & "master roaster") on lead guitar, Kenny Williamson on drums, Dion Taylor on keyboards & percussionist Mike Fieldhouse... the rest of the 7-piece was Steve Sarandos on tenor sax, Jeff Mason doing trombone & harps & bass by Gary Crooks. Martin had told me he was "laying back" from playing so much, but he said his 3 weeks off had him ready to play again, & play they DID!
The beauty of this little coffeehouse is that there is a real vibe going on... despite the packed room, it's really comfortable... seasoned players have a heck of a lot to do with that, but there's high talent in evidence from each of them, no doubt. The intro features some very nice trombone from Mason, & these guys sound like they've all been playing together for years (maybe they HAVE, too). Martin Salinas' guitar solo on this opener is jazz personified, & every player gets their own solo section, too. Heck, big-town Oly jazz may "smell funny", but Liquid Soul is breathing new LIFE into jazz with groups like this.
Old fashioned GUT blues with some rockin' sax & Jeff just KICKIN' on his harps... a very motivated tune that makes the audience respect what th' blues are all about. "Born Under A Bad Sign" is up next... nice walkin' bass from Gary & Mason's harp slides in reminding me a lot of the old Paul Butterfield blues band... nice change of pace - the main thing these guys convey to those watching is that they love to play... lots of bands say that, but you can feel it through the music the "Blazzmatics" perform!
A Grover Washington track is up next, with Steve featured on solo... his playing style is strong, without being overbearing - definitely FULL-throat reeds, & the band is full-bodied & way cool!
I had to split a bit early (kids to take care of), but the tune I trek out on is one of my favorites, a Horace Silver tune called "Song For My Father"... sweet, sweet jazz, played by folks who know how to communicate the nuances in the language of jazz... they let you know they're there, but don't "force" anything on you. You can bet I'll be back the next time they're on the bill... & I would say to all the folks in the whole community (to include Olympia, Lacey & Tumwater) that if you're looking for music that is fun - you'd better scope out this cool little cafe - like, NOW, people! It's an excellent venue with nice friendly folks who will make your stay a most pleasant one!
Bill Horist, solo, Good Sheperd center, 9/19/2009
After a FB announcement, I contacted Bill about the show he was doing in Seattle... it promised to be different, because he was performing solo... he's just returned from a tour in Europe, and is celebrating 17 years in the Great Northwest. Since his show is earlier than most (it was advertised to start at 8:00pm), I decided I could "deal" with downtown traffic & such (this is actually the first show I've been to up there in several years).
After a 40 or 50 minute drive (games going on, so there were quite a few cars out), and a bit of roundabout driving, I crawled up the street of a very residential-looking neighborhood in search of the behomoth you see on the left. Of course, the picture is in daylight, and since darkness had just fallen, I had visions of gargoyles & such by the time I made it up to the trees that guard the entrance. While walking in the front door, a cat named Issac was on his way out to grab a quick smoke just before helping to setup the show... after going in the front, I couldn't figure out where the venue was, so I went back out & asked him (& chatted & smoked with him for a few minutes); he took me to the 4th floor auditorium (in an elevator that surely needed a bellhop), where Bill was setting up his pedals, tuning & such... after introducing myself to his lady friend Tiffany (who is doing the door), I walk in to look the room over - there's a Baby Grand behind him, & in fact, he's using the stool from the piano as he sets up. After a few more seconds of setup, we exchange brief shakes & greets, that kind of thing. I grab a seat & check the room out some more... lots of kids in here, so Bill's ad for "all ages" must have caught some eyes... & of course, I totally DO dig on that! The other noticeable thing as the room began to fill up is that it's not just "one type" of listener coming in... a very nice mix of folks for the show.
8:00 comes, slides on over to 8:10 & so forth... so it's definitely going to be a "NW show"... laid-back, not necessarily right-on-time & a bit of a "build" in suspense levels... Bill definitely IS a showman... understands that the right amount of tension is important to establishing the magical aura... OR, maybe he was just outside grabbing a smoke & forgot what time it was - who knows? It doesn't really matter, though, because when he walks in at 8:21, takes his seat in the middle of the stage, he gets a superb round of applause! After only a few words to the audience warning that if he talks too much during the show, it may become expletive-loaded... & so says "I'm just gonna' play"... & man, does he EVER!
Lots of shiny glinting from his well-polished guitar, single fender amp & a whole array of pedals & effect boxes as he leads in to his first composition. Bent-over electronics lead-in to loops that keep the audience fully in anticipation of the second part of the tune... in fact, not a murmur escapes from the listeners as we soak in the harmonies and glorious overtones he creates here... & it's just like we are sitting in Bill's living room (or he ours) playing for us... very laid-back and easy. The improvisations are crystal clear and magick, even when he's using the feedback to make the change (in fact, less "scratch" than I've ever heard in a live performance of this nature)! His "feedback hum" sequence is totally captivating, and the audience is spellbound - that's equally amazing because even the kids are entranced. Sweet solo journeys for all to share in the joy of... I also find it striking that so many folks are joining in the gentle sway without trying to impress anyone with their cool... they just enjoy it! Very, VERY cool ambience going on here.
This is some of the most joyful & exuberant playing I've ever heard from Horist... superb rhythms and tone shifts... he pulls all of this off very smoothly, using the room acoustics to the maximum... brand new facets of Bill's playing personality are revealed, & it's really nice getting to know this "new side" of the player. 17 years (seems hard to believe it's been that long) have grown him in many different directions, and Bill literally DANCES on out of the last tune of the set. An essential and bright side of the spirit of music shines through in this grand tower of a room tonite... surely glad I took the time out to come and listen! Well worth the trip, Bill - thanks!
Charlie Saibel & The Intrusions (aka The Mish-Mash Trio)
End of summer in Olympia lends itself to leisurely strolls along the Puget Sound... in my case, of course, that also means lookin' for sounds to listen to. The seagulls crying, an occasional boat horn & (if one's been clued in), the chance to reacquaint oneself with the local players on the scene... Charlie sent me an email a couple of days before the gig, but I hadn't been down to the Olympia Farmer's Market in a few years, so I didn't recognize the play space when I wheeled up... they've done some really nice things, like put a cover over the audience space so the sun won't burn the crowd to smithereens. When I rolled in with my 2 kids, we were fortunate... there were several "front row" seats available. It was the same old Oly crowd... walkers, chatters & folks out to stroll (right along with me & th' kids) 'round the docks. Day was glorious, sunny, but not too hot... & with that new cover in front of the stage, could have stayed there for hours (if I hadn't had lots of other honey-dos competing for my time). The band was in great spirits, playin' some real get-down rockin' stuff, Charlie's organ was smokin' & Tracey Hooker (of the Hook Me Up band), the trumpet player was right ON it... while I stepped to the side booth for a latte, he started playin' two horns at once... the crowd went nuts! Mike Slivka, the drummer (who plays regularly with Hipbone), was the rhythm foundation for all this blues jumpin' timing, as well.
While I was lazin' around in th' latte line, another of my favorite players (Lynn Henson from the "Sour Owl" band) strolled up behind me... right after I got my drink & sat back down, Lynn stepped up to the stage to yak with Charlie (just before he was getting ready to belt out another tune). I didn't know they had played together before, but they must have, 'coz Charlie started layin' down the keyboard/rhythm patch for a red-hot ol' blues tune, then invited Lynn to step up... he said he only had a few minutes & had to take off for another gig, but Charlie convinced him to give him one tune... very cool, both of them were gettin' right on DOWN into that blues.. as you can see, Charlie stepped up from the keyboard & the band got that rhythm KRANKIN' out behind Lynn's vocal. All in all a really cool scene to be a part of. One of my best days this summer, in fact! Thanks, Mish-Mosh Trio... ha! ha!
Till next time...,
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