Below is a guest post I received over the transom from Hal Schuler, who was able to attend the last night's outing of the Montage Grill's new "Jazz Night." Well, it was "new" to me as I don't remember hearing from anyone before the first. (Musician's please let me know about your gigs, don't expect me to check all your sites or that the venue's will take care of it.) Drummer Aaron Staebell says this was the second of these "jazz nights," which he curates, in what he hopes will be a series attempting to bring jazz that tests borders back to the Montage. Hal, whom I often see out at the gigs on the edge of the jazz envelope, has provided some words and pictures from the gig last night. If you have any comments you want to share click on the link at the end of the post and leave one, I'll see that Hal gets them. Take it away Hal:
The Saturday April 6th Jazz Night at Montage presented three dynamic groups. The show opened with Doug Stone’s new quintet. The group was formed as a vehicle to perform Doug's compositions, which ranged from modern straight-ahead swing to group improvisation. The group was propelled by a hard driving rhythm section and strong solos from a front line of Dave Chisholm on trumpet and Doug Stone on tenor.
Aaron Staebell's new group Normal People was up next. As pointed out in the intro, the leader has many friends that aren't jazz fans so he wanted to do some music for them. Consisting of three guitars, alto/soprano saxophone, bass guitar and drums it features Staebell's arrangements of popular music from several generations. The songs were played without interruption with brief interludes between songs. The melody was carried by the alto/soprano saxophone with the guitars as accompaniment. There weren't solos in the jazz sense and most retained fragments of the melody. The group was a big hit with the audience. At Montage some people referred to the music as atmospheric but I think of it more as moody, melody driven and propelled by a gentle but insistent swing. You should hear the group and come up with your own description. After the set I learned it consisted of about a dozen songs. While I recognized about half the melodies the only song I could name was "The Tennessee Waltz" an early 1950's hit by Patti Page. That should tell you something. [You can hear some sample sounds from Normal People on Aaron's Soundcloud]
Last up was Colossus, a big band that made its public debut last December at the Bug Jar. The music can be heard at the Colossus Bandcamp site. Co-led by Mike Conrad, Levi Saelua and Dave Chisholm, the band plays their arrangements and compositions and consists of a rhythm section including guitar, five reeds, four trumpets and four trombones. The band is big, brash and has a great sound and many fine soloists. Most people like to hear a few familiar tunes but here the original compositions were so interesting and involving the standards were not missed. Later this month they will be recording a CD. I'm sure they will be doing some gigs around town in support of the disc. Don't miss them. You won't be disappointed.
I should point out that the lighting and sound were first rate something that is often missing at musical performances. On the minus side a few more seats would have been helpful.
This blog is about building the jazz community in Rochester. So, if you're out there at a show and want to share your experience of a live jazz gig with Rochester (and, frankly, the rest of the world, as my readers are from all over), feel free to add your voice to Jazz@Rochester. Use the Contact Us button above and we'll see what we can do. The time limits I have make it impossible for me to hear as much as I'd like or to write about it w'hen I do (just getting the listings out is sometimes all I can do in a week), so I welcome guest posts. I just reserve the right not to publish and to edit posts and images to further the purpose of this blog.