When jazz legends hit the boutique stage at the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society, anything can happen. On Sunday, August 10 trumpeter Eddie Gale's Collective with trombonist Dick Griffin (NYC), saxophonist Kidd Jordon (New Orleans), bassists William Parker (NYC) and Marcus Shelby (San Francisco), and drummer Joe Hodge (San Jose) shook the house with driving jazz. Gale brought his heavyweight band in for a memorable and powerful performance. As the Bach's owner Pete Douglas said, "When I heard they were coming in, I didn't expect ... so much power." The late afternoon/evening show was indeed captivating.
Each of the musicians had ample opportunity for solo work and it's hard to say who broke out with the best of the evening. In a monster solo during the tune "Remembering JohnA Tribute to John Coltrane," Parker used several extended musical techniques on his double bass that I've never before heard. Pete commented on it too, saying, "I've never heard a bass like that." The bass duets between Shelby and Parker were often quite stunning as they were long and intricate, calling and responding, blending fingering gymnastics, and a mix utilizing both the bow, strumming, and plucking.
At the conclusion of one piece Pete called out, "Don't you guys do ballads?" Immediately, Eddie lifted his muted trumpet and moved into a solo that was laid back and gentle. It was an unexpected, for some a welcomed, break from the hard bop style jazz being laid down, soothing the tightly knit and appreciative audience. Gale's range on his trumpet is something to behold. He and Kidd Jordan traveled the full range of their horns, often playing off of one another, though subtly and with warm finesse.
Master trombonist Dick Griffin holds a big horn and plays from his heart. He is unique, having developed a highly personalized playing style which he calls "circularphonics," a type of circular breathing similar to playing the didjeridu. The technique allows him to produce sounds from his trombone that cannot be duplicated. This unusual style, evenly balanced with the rest of the band, took the music through powerful levels. Griffin is a powerhouse trombonist.
It's difficult for a writer to do full justice by this gathering of legendary musicians, with Eddie Gale at the helm. It was both an honor and an extreme pleasure to hear them perform at the Bach. Pete Douglas summed up the experience succinctly: "Now, this is the real thing." The seasoned jazz audience applauded long and hard at the end of the show. They clearly understood that what they had just heard was authentic and, moreover, came from the hearts of these stellar musicians.
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