Keyboardist Robert Mason has a very busy week ahead, so we had a brief chat about what he’s up to. Since October, Mason has been playing a weekly solo piano gig every Thursday from 7:30 to 10:30pm at Short North bar Two Truths, which opened this past March. As Mason told me, “It’s been really cool because I’ve been having random musicians come through, and people walking in off the street after hearing the music. I’ve also had friends come through and play different instruments, which has been fun. Since I’m doing that new organ project [Soul Eyz, see below], I’ve been playing mostly organ this month, and I’ll have a drummer come through. I’ve had people play saxophone. That’s usually the second half of the night, when I open it up for more of a jam session kind of thing. I try to keep it solo for the first half of the night. But every week is different. It’s a cool vibe – they serve drinks and food, which is fun, and the staff is really nice. This is my first consistent weekly gig, so that’s been exciting. I set up by the window – it’s fun to see people’s faces when they walk in – ‘Oh, there’s a person playing music here.’ It keeps growing, which is cool.” There is no cover for this event. Keep reading for more of Mason’s itinerary and projects, plus thoughts from Tony Hagood on his next Jazz at the MAC show Saturday.
The Robert Mason Trio remains active, with a show at Barcelona on Sunday, January 21st from 6 to 8pm. Mason: “That’s still going well. Willie [Barthel, drums] and John [Allen, bass], we’ve been playing for a couple years, they sound great.” Mason is also co-leading a new band called Soul Eyz. Mason: “Soul Eyz is a new project that me and Michael Kahn revamped [from an old quartet Kahn led]. We’re doing an organ trio and wanted to focus on a new sound. Organ is a new instrument I’ve recently picked up. This is a cool new project, a bassless trio [where he can] just play and have a different role in the rhythm section, along with melody. We’re focusing on more hard bop groove music and R&B. A lot of it has a Horace Silver influence, or John Patton, plus soul and hard bop – the Ray Charles influence. We’re trying not to categorize it as ‘jazz,’ but more feel-good, funky groove music. Michael Kahn is playing tenor – he’s a great tenor player with a lot of experience. Reggie Jackson is playing drums for our first two dates, which I’m super excited about. I’m learning a lot from him, such a legendary drummer in the area.” Soul Eyz plays Dick’s Den on Saturday, January 20th from 10pm to 2am ($5 cover), and Brothers Drake on Wednesday, January 24th from 8 to 11pm (Free show). Mason also has plenty of work beyond jazz, including planning to go on tour with R&B vocalist Renee Dion this summer (they play as a duo on January 27th), playing regularly with funky soul juggernaut MojoFlo (which plays its 10 Year Anniversary Show later on the 27th), and teaching lessons at Musicologie in Grandview Mondays and Thursdays. Stay tuned to his website for more on his busy schedule and new projects!
Shows To See This Week
Saturday, January 20th (7:30 to 10pm): Jazz at the MAC: Tony Hagood Performs Gershwin at the McConnell Arts Center. The third installment of pianist Hagood’s 2017-18 Jazz at the MAC series sheds light on another important strain of American jazz and popular music. For this concert, Hagood will be joined by: Juan Carlos Ortega – Violin, Meagan Cramm – Viola, Michael Cox – Saxophones, Bradley Mellen – Bass, and Zach Compston – Drums. As Hagood told me about the band and the jazz elements of the legendary George Gershwin:
“I truly enjoy working with these musicians, the professionalism and caliber of playing they each possess makes the actual act of putting together the rehearsals and shows a piece of cake. This is our first time collaborating with musicians from the McConnell Arts Center Chamber Orchestra. It has been an absolute pleasure and we hope to find more ways to collaborate in the future.
Gershwin was a musician and composer that came from a world of classical and jazz music. Although most of his musicals and compositions were billed as popular or classical, they have harmonic and rhythmic similarities to jazz compositions as well. A lot of the compositions we will be performing have become jazz standards over time not just because of their elements similar to jazz but because the music was popular. One of the hallmarks of a jazz musician is taking a popular piece and rearranging it in a new way to connect with the audience and inspire dialogue while evoking a sense of adventure.”
Tickets are going fast, so grab yours here now This show is now sold out!
Have a great week!