CBIII Band at Cecil's Jazz Club

David A. Orthmann By

Sign in to view read count
Cecil's Jazz Club
West Orange, NJ
August 17, 2007

Two drum kits were set up at the front of the stage prior to the CB III Band's first set at Cecil's Jazz Club. Though the configuration was in keeping with an evening billed as "The Father, Son, and Holy Groove, featuring two generations of the Brooks family of jazz drummers, the figure of Max Roach cast a long shadow on the proceedings. Roach, whose virtuosic, interactive style of drumming invigorated jazz icons ranging from Charlie Parker to Clifford Brown to Cecil Taylor, had died on the previous day. The insistent, hard-hitting approach of Cecil Brooks III, the club's proprietor, wouldn't have been possible without Roach's towering achievements.

The first forty-five minutes of the performance moved along without pause. In large measure the band exhibited the trappings of soul-jazz, with audience-friendly material (an unnamed blues, Bobby Hebb's 1966 hit "Sunny, the Carpenters' 1970 smash "Close To You, Norah Jones's recent blockbuster "Don't Know Why, and an up tempo Charles Earland line), palpable grooves, and an abundance of blues and R & B licks. However, Brooks's ferocious drumming, guitarist Matt Chertkoff's and Hammond B-3 organist Kyle Kohler's willingness to stand up to the barrage, and the remarkably fluid exchange of ideas among them, disclosed a spirit of adventure seldom seen in other practitioners of the B-3 trio genre.

Two previous weekends at the club made the trio into a genuinely cohesive unit. Dynamics ranged from a whisper (at one point I feared the band could hear the rustling of the pages of my notebook) to an earsplitting roar. Every selection included at least a couple of sustained climaxes. The sheer force of Brooks's drumming was calculated, his practiced sticking never lapsed into mindless flailing. He was equally adept at latching onto one of Chertkoff's or Kohler's phrases, creating a more intense groove by adding complicated rhythms, or willfully pushing the music in another direction by dint of slamming hits to the snare and bass drum.

Brooks's solo on "Sunny began with an uncanny imitation of the tune's melody. He briefly traveled around the drums only to return to the basic patterns. Another whole sequence was executed entirely on the cymbals, again capturing the essence of the song. After tamping the low tom-tom with one stick and striking the drum with the other, he cut loose, at first moving around the set in a flurry of rapid strokes before becoming downright brutal.

Chertkoff and Kohler revealed a flair for building solos that were both soulful and deceptively complex. Undaunted by Brooks's hard, repetitive snare and bass drum combinations during "Don't Know Why, Chertkoff spit the figure right back at him and then rapidly moved on and developed a four-note phrase. After briefly yielding to the leader's dazzling variety of snare drum beats, Kohler's song-like lines on "Close To You morphed into a number of intriguing fragments, before reaching a climax via a series of bluesy chords.

Brooks introduced his father, Cecil Brooks II, as "the man who taught me how to play, and then left the stage. The reconstituted trio tackled "Shiny Stockings at a middling tempo, Brooks II displaying a sharp, tight sound on the drum set, and his accents perfectly complementing Frank Foster's tune originally conceived for Basie's big band. Throughout Chertkoff and Kohler's solos, he comped judiciously and then served up subtle figures from the snare drum for his four-bar trades with Kohler.

Upon Brooks III's return to the bandstand, the percussion-heavy band turned Sonny Rollins's calypso anthem "St Thomas into a gleeful stomp, Chertkoff's nimble lines constituting his best work of the set. In a big, crowd-pleasing finish, father and son battled to a draw, and made the floor shake throughout an extended series of eight-bar exchanges.

Visit Cecil's Jazz Club on the web.


comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Jazz em Agosto 2017 Live Reviews Jazz em Agosto 2017
by Mike Chamberlain
Published: August 16, 2017
Read Dawn Clement Trio at Kitano Live Reviews Dawn Clement Trio at Kitano
by Tyran Grillo
Published: August 14, 2017
Read Gilad Hekselman at the Cornelia Street Café Live Reviews Gilad Hekselman at the Cornelia Street Café
by Tyran Grillo
Published: August 13, 2017
Read Siena Jazz International Summer Workshop Live Reviews Siena Jazz International Summer Workshop
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: August 8, 2017
Read Mat Maneri and Lucian Ban at Barbès Live Reviews Mat Maneri and Lucian Ban at Barbès
by Tyran Grillo
Published: August 7, 2017
Read "SFJAZZ Collective at the Music Box Supper Club" Live Reviews SFJAZZ Collective at the Music Box Supper Club
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: April 28, 2017
Read "Mike Westbrook at Bury St. Edmunds Festival" Live Reviews Mike Westbrook at Bury St. Edmunds Festival
by Duncan Heining
Published: June 14, 2017
Read "Jon Cleary at The Ardmore Music Hall" Live Reviews Jon Cleary at The Ardmore Music Hall
by Mike Jacobs
Published: September 25, 2016
Read "April Jazz Festival in Espoo, Finland" Live Reviews April Jazz Festival in Espoo, Finland
by Anthony Shaw
Published: May 9, 2017


Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.