Matt Slocum Trio Live At The Saville Theater

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Matt Slocum Trio
Saville Theater, San Diego City College
San Diego, CA
August 10, 2010

Matt Slocum is a promising young drummer/composer who appears to be going places in jazz. A graduate of the prestigious Thornton School Of Music at USC, where he studied with Peter Erskine
Peter Erskine
Peter Erskine
b.1954
drums
, (Weather Report
Weather Report
Weather Report

band/orchestra
, Stan Kenton
Stan Kenton
Stan Kenton
1911 - 1979
piano
), and Alan Pasqua
Alan Pasqua
Alan Pasqua

piano
, he has already performed with none other than Wynton Marsalis
Wynton Marsalis
Wynton Marsalis
b.1961
trumpet
. Slocum resides in New Jersey and is working in New York, but is currently on the West Coast touring in support of his first album as a leader, Portraits, (Chandra. 2010).

Slocum's appearance at the Saville Theater generated a lot of word of mouth "buzz" in the San Diego jazz community. This was evidenced by the unusual turn-out of a fair number of top local musicians, like bassist Rob Thorsen and local drum maestro Duncan Moore
Duncan Moore
Duncan Moore

drums
, two of the areas most busy players.

Slocum's credentials were further served by the West Coast trio he was able to assemble for this tour: Grammy winning pianist Bill Cunliffe
Bill Cunliffe
Bill Cunliffe
b.1956
piano
who has played with trumpeter Freddie Hubbard
Freddie Hubbard
Freddie Hubbard
1938 - 2008
trumpet
and tenor icon Joe Henderson
Joe Henderson
Joe Henderson
1937 - 2001
sax, tenor
among many others; his choice for the double-bass chair was no less inspired—Darek Oles
Darek Oles
Darek Oles
b.1963
bass, acoustic
, who's got Pat Metheny
Pat Metheny
Pat Metheny
b.1954
guitar
and Charles Lloyd
Charles Lloyd
Charles Lloyd
b.1938
saxophone
in his thick resume.



Slocum considers himself a composer as much as a percussionist and has a reputation as a "musical" drummer, rather than a "basher." As a composer, Slocum seems to have aligned himself principally in the mid-sixties Miles Davis
Miles Davis
Miles Davis
1926 - 1991
trumpet
camp. Many of his tunes have a vaguely Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
b.1933
saxophone
kind of feel to them—that's hardly a complaint.

The concert began with a loose, swinging take on the Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman
b.1930
sax, alto
blues, "Turnaround" which was delightful. Featuring compact, soulful statements from Cunliffe and Oles, it was the perfect place to start. The trio then launched into "Portraits" which had a mysterious vibe courtesy of a dark unison bass ostinato. Next was another Slocum original, "Avenida Del Paradiso" which featured a lilting six-eight Latin groove, that seemed to infuse Cunliffe with the spirit of Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
b.1940
piano
, say from his Blue Note period. This piece also showcased Oles' ability to solo in his deep, "tone-first" style. Oles has relatively small hands and it was instructive to watch him navigate the additional string-length of his hundred year old German full-size bass. Primarily self-taught, he has worked out an entirely unique set of fingerings for himself, maximizing the use of open strings and a certain degree of magic, because he played a whole lot of bass without moving his hands much.

It should be mentioned at this point that Slocum thus far hadn't "turned the heat up " much in terms of dynamics. He did as the tune reached it's close and it was a relief to hear him finally dominate the mix. When he chooses to be, Slocum is fiery drummer with a swinging bag of tricks. He then announced a ballad named for his long time girlfriend titled, "For Alin." This piece, like many that evening, would fit nicely on an ECM record. It was mostly rubato with Slocum creating a "quiet storm" with the use of soft-mallets all over his tiny Remo drum kit. "For Alin" even ventured into a brief "free" dialogue for a few minutes, before re-focusing on the melody to take the tune out.

Perhaps the most interesting piece of the evening, (certainly the piece with the most percussive drama) was a brand new—as yet untitled composition that alternated between meters of six and seven. This one inspired an absolutely joyous, constantly inventive piano solo, and when it subsided, Darek Oles had the spot light for an unaccompanied bass turn that was spellbinding in it's originality. Oles' sound is massive. When he first arrived in this country, he studied at Cal Arts with the legendary Charlie Haden
Charlie Haden
Charlie Haden
1937 - 2014
bass, acoustic
and it shows. Like Haden, he draws you into his own world. Once you're there—he mesmerizes you with his pure, resonant sound. Following the Oles solo, the entire trio locked into a highly rhythmic dialogue in which Slocum's drums once again came to the fore. This time he stretched out with a constant stream of "snap-crackle-pops" from all over his drum kit, Slocum has done his drum homework—his exposition on this tune referenced some of his favorite percussionists: Max Roach
Max Roach
Max Roach
1925 - 2007
drums
, snippets of Jack DeJohnette
Jack DeJohnette
Jack DeJohnette
b.1942
drums
and the occasional tom-tom expressions of Ed Blackwell
Ed Blackwell
Ed Blackwell
1929 - 1992
drums
.

The trio was now locked in a highly creative "groove" and the rest of the concert seemed to rush by. In rapid succession, they played tribute to Monk with a swinging take on "Eronel," performed a somber, mysterious version of the Darek Oles original, "That Night" and furthered the leader's aesthetic with his own, "Cambria."

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