I had a great Jazz Night Out when I saw Athens’ 6:5 Quartet make a Jazz Wednesday appearance at Brothers Drake on March 11th. After catching the tail end of the second set, which I’m told was an extended single piece, I got to enjoy the entire third set, a diverse display of the band’s focus on melodic percussion. If that focus isn’t distinctive enough, Greg Becker’s work on the MalletKat, some sort of electronic hybrid of a keyboard and a vibraphone, helps to set the band further apart. Though it may seem a bit excessive in writing, passages where Becker played extended parts in unison with vibraphonist Seth Alexander were exciting and almost hypnotic. Alexander took the lead role on most of the band’s material, and advanced techniques like playing the bars of the vibraphone with a violinist’s bow added drama. The forceful yet agile lines of bassist (and sole “non-percussionist”) Jason Snoddy often propelled the tunes forward, and in combination with drummer Drew Wright, the pair produced tracks that I would describe as “driving” more often than not. The show-ending trio of “Simple/Sexy Jam,” “Waltz,” and a rendition of Mongo Santamaria’s “Afro Blue” was an excellent conclusion for the evening, as the tunes became more anthemic and solos from all players, including an emphatic MalletKat section by Becker in the finale, were at a heightened level. I was glad I managed to check these guys out, and hope they return to town soon!
Shows To See This Week
Thursday, March 19th: Tom Davis at Dick’s Den. After a winter that included playing gigs in his “second home” of Edinburgh, Scotland, local guitarist Davis is getting ready for the warmer months with a quartet gig at Dick’s. His band for the evening will include Pete Mills on tenor saxophone, Greg Wolfram on bass, and Dan DiPiero on drums, and the program will include swinging renditions of standards and Davis originals. Thursday’s show kicks off one of the first consecutive four-day runs of jazz at Dick’s Den in some time, so stop in there for great live music all weekend, including the James Gaiters Quartet on Friday, the Talisha Holmes Ensemble on Saturday (Holmes’ birthday celebration!), and the Insane Jazz Posse on Sunday.
Monday, March 23rd: Vaughn Wiester’s Famous Jazz Orchestra with Kate Ross at Clintonville Woman’s Club. One of Columbus’ finest and longest-running big bands will spice up this week’s performance by featuring veteran vocalist Ross. Expect flavors ranging from sizzling to sultry on some fine renditions of a wide variety of classic standards.
Tuesday, March 24th: James Gaiters’ SOUL REVIVAL at Natalie’s. After the band previously scheduled for this date was forced to cancel their tour, drummer Gaiters seized the opportunity to debut a new band which should be a delight. The leader will be joined by longtime collaborator Eddie Bayard on saxophone, as well as Jon Eshelman on organ and Craig McMullen on guitar. As Gaiters told me:
We will be playing some old, as well as new originals. Also, we will dive into some other obscure music by some of the pioneers of the “soul jazz” era that, although great, perhaps didn’t get much of the attention that they may have deserved. I put this band together to address my own personal demands to grow and broaden the frequency/pallet of sound, from my perspective. I’m looking to work this band as much as possible. It’s time for a “new sound/vibe.”
Have a great week! Here’s video of a previous appearance by Ross with the FJO: