Leroy Jones at The Living Room
Sheraton Grande, Bangkok
September 28, 2006
The Living Room is an odd-looking place. It resembles the bridge on the Enterprise from Star Trek, with its circular form; the seating arrangements are not dissimilar either and then there is the big window, although instead of dark space and asteroid fields the visitor sees Bangkok's Sky-train whiz by. The Living Room beats the bridge on two scores; firstly, there is a bar and secondly, it is Bangkok's premier venue for visiting jazz musicians. Tonight it was host to the genial New Orleans trumpeter, Leroy Jones.
The first set of the evening was played by the Jeremy Monteiro Trio, Belinda Moody on double bass, Shawn Kelley on drums and the leader on piano. This trio has been together for six years and their playing is accordingly tight, although they leave plenty of room for improvisation. All three played lively solos on the opener, "This I Dig of You" by Hank Mobley. The two standout tracks, both Monteiro originals, were the delightful "Asiana" with Moody carving out a wonderfully lyrical solo and the set closer, "Soliloquy," a jaunty, Caribbean-flavored vehicle for the remarkable talents of Jeremy Monteiro whose playing was reminiscent of Don Pullen, with a splash of Michel Camilo on the keys making for a colorful palette.
Leroy Jones joined the trio for a hugely enjoyable set during which he showed himself to be equally at home playing straight ahead or New Orleans stomps. He may not have the profile of Wynton Marsalis, Terence Blanchard or Nicholas Payton but in that exalted company he sits most comfortably. The band hit the ground running on "There Is No Greater Love." "Jordu by the greatly underrated Duke Jordan, saw Moody lay down a walking groove with Kelley riding the top cymbal, over which Jones and then Monteiro soloed.
Jones showed off his vocal talents on "Pennies From Heaven" although it was his blistering solo which brought a spontaneous cheer from the crowd. "My Funny Valentine" had little of Chet Baker's melancholy and was instead warm-toned, Jones and the crowd enjoying one of his most extended improvisations of the evening, which ended with him muting the trumpet with his hand.
The quartet became a quintet with the addition of Finnish trombonist and ethnomusicologist Katja Toivola, and they swung their way joyously through New Orleans classics, "Ain't Gonna Give Nobody None Of My Jelly Roll," "When The Saints Go Marching In', "Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans?" and "Bourbon Street," the crowd returning the enthusiasm of the playing by joining in with singing duties, claps and cheers.
Looking back on it, it seems to have been gross negligence for Captain Kirk to boldly set off without an ethnomusicologist of his own on board the Enterprise. Who knows what unearthly music they may have discovered? Would it have been more swinging than Leroy Jones and co? Unlikely.
Personnel: Leroy Jones, trumpet; Jeremy Monteiro, piano; Belinda Moody, double bass; Shawn Kelley, drums; Katja Toivola, trombone.
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