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Jazz at the Nash Volume 2: Roots in AZ

Dave Kaufman By

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This is the second in a series of In Pictures articles on The Nash, a jazz club and educational institution that is at the heart of the Phoenix jazz universe. This article celebrates visiting musicians who have roots in Arizona.

Tenor titan Tony Malaby, a native of Tucson, brought his outstanding group Paloma Recio to the Nash in March, 2015. The group includes Ben Monder, bassist Eivind Opsvik and drummer Nasheet Waits, all group leaders in their own rights with distinguished resumes. They played two superb sets of adventurous, yet accessible music to a very enthusiastic full house. Tony was part of the music scene before moving to NYC and many of the local musicians came out to see him perform. It was a great homecoming celebration.

Endangered Blood is a distinctive quartet of New York City based musicians who deftly straddle the boundary between "out jazz" and the jazz tradition. The group consists of multi-instrumentalists Chris Speed and Arizona native, Oscar Noriega, bassist Trevor Dunn and drummer Jim Black. Speed is the primary composer. All four are formidable soloists and the group engages in a kind of dynamic interplay that includes individual and collective improvisation, that remains grounded in the melodic structure of the excellent compositions. Chris Speed had previously played the Nash (2014) with a trio that included the mighty Dave King on drums and Chris Tordini on bass.

Tenor saxophonist Roxy Coss and her quartet gave a fine performance at the Nash in February, 2016. She was performing music from her recently released album Restless Idealism that features Coss' thoughtful compositions grounded in personal narratives that she shared freely with the audience. She led a band that featured excellent local musicians including pianist Angelo Versace , bassist Chris Finet and Dom Moio on drums. Lucas Pino, a Phoenix native and Coss' husband, also guested on a couple of tunes to great effect.

Noah Simpson is a prodigiously talented young trumpeter who was raised in Arizona and is now based in Portland, Oregon. His quartet included Eric Rasmussen on alto saxophone, Will Goble on bass, and Ryan Anthony on drums. Pianist George Colligan was a featured guest and was an excellent addition. Incidentally, Colligan paid tribute to the Nash on his superb new record More Power. Simpson was also featured in flugelhornist Dmitri Matheny's groups. San Franciso-based Matheny was raised in Tucson and plays the Nash several times a year. Matheny is a contender for the hardest working man in showbiz, touring incessantly and playing around 200 dates per year. He led a band called the Jazz Noir Project, a concept that led to a fine recording in 2016. The collection of classics is inspired by crime Jazz and film noir. It is perhaps, the other side of the coin to John Zorn's Naked City. In the press release, Jazz Noir is described as "mysterious, melancholy and menacing." The "noir music" was splendidly translated by his quintet that included saxophonist Andrew Gross, pianist Nick Manson, Ted Sistrunk on bass and Dom Moio on drums.
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