Chuck Anderson Trio: Philadelphia, PA, July 13, 2013

Victor L. Schermer By

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Chuck Anderson Trio
Jamey's House of Music
Philadelphia, PA
July 13, 2013

Chuck Anderson is a virtuoso jazz guitarist with an eclectic repertoire that includes standards, originals, a dash of rock, and artisan electric adaptations of classical acoustic guitar music. He started out forty years ago as the house guitarist at the Latin Casino, and then formed his own groups that included the great bassist Al Stauffer and the genius pianist Bernard Peiffer. His career was disrupted by a series of medical problems, during which time he continued teaching and composing. He recovered and resumed his performing career about a decade ago, and since then has focused on developing his own tight trio, featuring bassist Eric Schreiber and drummer Ed Rick. In addition to composing, teaching, and recording, Anderson's mission is to play top quality, highly listenable small-ensemble and solo music in venues with optimal listening specifications. Anderson recently received the Number 1 musician rating on ReverbNation. The trio is preparing a new CD, Nighthawk, which will be released in the near future.

The first set began with two Anderson originals, "Matchsticks" and "Spring Rain," followed by the Jerome Kern standard, "All the Things You Are," illustrating the power and lyricism of which Anderson and the group, driven by drummer Rick's rock-solid rhythms, are capable. These were followed by Anderson's stunning solo arrangement of "Cherry Blossom," a traditional Japanese folk-song that he performed in the manner of Segovia on an electronic instrument, a feat in itself.

The momentum picked up with two standards by Bobby Hebb, "Sunny," and "Fever," the latter made famous by Peggy Lee, whom Anderson had the honor of backing at the Latin Casino. These tunes, as well as the original, "Nighthawk," benefitted from Anderson's rich, bright sonority, chordal ingenuity, and rapid Jimmy Bruno-like runs. The set concluded with a gentle tune created for the setting, "Jamey's House of Samba."

The second set showed Anderson's versatility. Bonfa's "Black Orpheus" received the lyrical beauty and passion it deserves. Bassist Eric Schreiber complemented Anderson's guitar with intricately woven melodic lines unexpected from a bassist. Anderson then covered the entire range of the guitar with intense improvisations around the Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby," sounding more like Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards than the Beatles. A series of originals—"Trade Winds, "Wind Mist," "Tribute to Wes," and "Eiffel Tower"—showed off Anderson's capability as a composer, which he honed to perfection in his album, Free Fall (Dreambox, 2009). "Tribute to Wes" was of course dedicated to Anderson's (and most jazz guitarists') idol, Wes Montgomery, and captured the latter's distinctive dual octave sound. The evening concluded with John Coltrane's "Impressions," in which Anderson pulled out all the improvisational and harmonic stops, showing his mastery of the post-bop idiom, which is often an acid test for a jazz guitarist.

With the attrition of jazz nightclubs in the Philadelphia area, the small, intimate salon-like setting is beginning to fill some of the gap. Jamey's House of Music (formerly known as the Psalm Salon) in the Wynnefield section of the city is an almost-too-good-to-be-true example. The host, Jamey Reilley, converted the main living room of his home into a listening space and recording studio with fine stage lighting and state-of-the-art audio/video. Adjacent is an informal service area, where you can purchase a Cantonese dinner box and non- alcoholic beverages at low cost. It gives the feeling of a club without the distracting noise and fuss. The atmosphere is family friendly, and the listening conditions are ideal. The Chuck Anderson Trio is very well received there and does frequent return engagements.

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