The latest chapter in the Henry Grimes re-entry saga found the obituaried bassist playing with recent veterans of Grimes units, plus a notable newcomer. Multi-reed master Vinny Golia brought his impressive abilities to join the Cline brothers, trumpet firebrand Dan Clucas, and youth brigade Joey Dosik on alto and Nick Rosen on bass. With a towel over his shoulder to catch the prodigious perspiration runoff, hard working Henry with his perpetual pout propelled his band through four long improvised sequences plucking and bowing all the notes in his bass.
With no introduction the musicians mounted the stage and Grimes started it off. Nels chimed in clear and sweet. Despite several effects boxes and some scraping devices, his playing relied on articulate runs few guitarists could duplicate, and prescient chording employing chords that may not have existed before that night’s performance. Alex joined in, quickly gaining momentum until he assumed his position of being everywhere without being busy. Instead of surrounding himself with his usual battery of reeds, Golia limited himself to tenor and soprano sax, here playing streaming leaves of sound on soprano. Clucas announced he felt good and ready with his first solo. Throughout the evening, the normally focused and serious horn player broke into 100-watt grins witnessing contributions by Nels and Vinny. Vinny deftly echoed parts of Dan’s improvisation. As the band gelled into a hard bop groove, Clucas flat out rocked. When the band took it down for Henry’s prodigious plucking, Alex stayed with him on light brushes. Golia added some subtle multiphonics, before Clucas returned muted. Everyone came back strong, then Nels blurred his fingers on the fretboard for an extended excursion with Alex stoking the flame. Dosik, Golia, and Clucas created loose arrangements for color. Vinny got in on the high speed fun, then everything quieted down for Dosik.
Rosen and Grimes initialized the second piece. High school student Rosen struck a good balance between his low-key showing at Grimes’ premiere at the World Stage and his exuberance at the Howling Monk weeks later. Nels muttered some guitar before Alex jumped up the rhythm on high hat and snare. After Nels blistered his frets, Dosik and Clucas indulged in some time honored riff swapping. The band broke free, Alex re-introduced rhythm, then Golia took it out in trio with Grimes and Rosen.
Grimes bowed the intro to the third number, briskly linked to Clucas, Nels and Rosen for some quartet variations. Once Alex joined, the rhythm section churned under more heat from Clucas. Up to this point, Nels had been content to play serene chords, but once in the front he gave way to fitful bursts of notes. As he did earlier with Clucas, Dosik picked up Nels’ lines, threw them back, and created fresh sounds of his own. Golia took the tenor for a wild ride, with Alex copiloting. Henry and Nick went at it, with Henry bowing. The horns circled each other, then Golia blew the brass off the tenor. Clucas proved he could follow Golia, and whipped the band into a frenzy that ended in a powerful group improvisation.
Although the line up varied slightly from the advertised personnel, there were no disappointments. Acting as mc, Rosen closed by announcing another show by this configuration in September at the Eagle Rock Community center. Anyone interested in these players or in virtuoso improv generally should check the schedule at www.liraproductions.com, and make plans to have your ears stretched.