Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

3

Hendrik Meurkens-Doug Webb Quintet at Trumpets Jazz Club

David A. Orthmann By

Sign in to view read count
Hendrik Meurkens-Doug Webb Quintet
Trumpets Jazz Club
Montclair, NJ
September 25, 2015

The opening set of a one-off gig by a quintet co-led by vibraphonist/harmonicist Hendrik Meurkens and tenor saxophonist Doug Webb consisted of overlapping, concurrent factors which resulted in over an hour's worth of music brimming with emotional and intellectual substance. The cooperation and connectedness between Meurkens and Webb, who first met decades ago at the Berklee College of Music, set the tone for everything that followed. The co-leaders projected an air of individuals who were there to take care of business and fully intended to enjoy their time on the bandstand. Strong, off putting displays of egotism were conspicuously absent, as was any implication that the music had be regarded with grave seriousness. An optimistic "all for one and one for all" stance spread throughout the band.

A varied program chosen by Meurkens and Webb included something for everyone: Relaxed, forthright, middling tempo swing (Milt Jackson's "Bags' Groove," and Meurkens' original "Mundel's Mood"); a bossa nova (Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Triste"), a ballad (Duke Ellington's "In A Sentimental Mood"), and a pair of barnburners (John Coltrane's "Moment's Notice" and Richard Rodgers' "Have You Met Miss Jones?"). There was ample opportunity to blow, and the listener left with a good idea of the capabilities of individual band members, yet the solos didn't weigh down each selection, or exceed a reasonable amount time. Last but not least, a near capacity crowd—always a welcome sight in any jazz venue—clearly came to listen and gave something back to the band in the form of genuine enthusiasm.

As part of the consistently invigorating support by a rhythm section comprised of pianist Ron Oswanski, bassist Chris Berger, and drummer Alvester Garnett, many of the set's individual accomplishments were framed by their brief enhancements—like Garnett's jolting bass and snare drum combinations; walking lines by Berger that often lifted the band despite a relatively low dynamic level; and Oswanski's knack for inserting a chord in a way that fleetingly stood out as well as boosted the soloist.

Meurkens' vibes turn on "Have You Met Miss Jones?" revolved around deeply focused swing and the juxtaposition of the familiar and the adventurous. A relatively simple three-note phrase served as a palate cleanser after a lengthy, agitated run. Two contrasting, spread out tones marked the onset of a chorus, and he responded to the band's tight, focused momentum with a profusion of notes.

The beginning of Webb's "Triste" solo was the epitome of Getzian cool. He took something off of the customary edge of his tone and stated ideas in an easygoing narrative. Even when his lines became busier and sharper Webb continued to find melodies instead of merely piecing together compatible phrases. A cadenza at the end of "In A Sentimental Mood" was one of the set's highlights. In contrast to a clean, mellifluous sound and relatively low volume while playing the song and variations in the beginning of the selection, during the out head Webb foreshadowed something else entirely by showing signs of exertion and dirtying things up a little. The cadenza that followed was an inspired work of artful extremes. He unleashed a barrage of long, hard, nasty, runs, hinted at the melody without pausing, executed low, elephantine tones and high, keening sounds, and when he finally settled down there was tacit approval in the audience's stunned silence.

The set was proof positive that mainstream jazz doesn't have to be dumbed down to earn the respect and the gratitude of an audience. Rather than erecting a barrier around the bandstand and daring paying customers to try to enter their rarefied world, Meurkens, Webb and their cohort played serious music in a manner that welcomed people while staying true to themselves. And because we live in an era in which there seems to be very little middle ground between pure entertainment and art for art's sake, it was an impressive balancing act.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Euro 12

Euro 12

Hendrik Meurkens
Samba Little Samba

CD/LP/Track Review
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Interviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Video Feature
Read more articles
Cabin In The Sky

Cabin In The Sky

Self Produced
2018

buy
Harmonicus Rex

Harmonicus Rex

Self Produced
2016

buy

Related Articles

Read Brian Wilson Presents The Christmas Album Live Live Reviews
Brian Wilson Presents The Christmas Album Live
by Mike Perciaccante
Published: December 16, 2018
Read Jazz Migration 2018 Live Reviews
Jazz Migration 2018
by Henning Bolte
Published: December 13, 2018
Read Bessie Smith Empress of the Blues Tribute at The Cabot Live Reviews
Bessie Smith Empress of the Blues Tribute at The Cabot
by Doug Hall
Published: December 11, 2018
Read Joe Gransden's Big Band At Cafe 290 Live Reviews
Joe Gransden's Big Band At Cafe 290
by Martin McFie
Published: December 9, 2018
Read U2 at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin Live Reviews
U2 at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: December 9, 2018
Read David Johansen at The Space at Westbury Live Reviews
David Johansen at The Space at Westbury
by Mike Perciaccante
Published: December 9, 2018
Read "Baku Jazz Festival 2018" Live Reviews Baku Jazz Festival 2018
by Ian Patterson
Published: November 13, 2018
Read "Dixie Dregs at the Boulder Theater" Live Reviews Dixie Dregs at the Boulder Theater
by Geoff Anderson
Published: April 28, 2018
Read "Kurt Rosenwinkel at Chris’ Jazz Café" Live Reviews Kurt Rosenwinkel at Chris’ Jazz Café
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: January 2, 2018
Read "Hong Kong International Jazz Festival 2018" Live Reviews Hong Kong International Jazz Festival 2018
by Rob Garratt
Published: October 18, 2018