Jazz Brasserie at the Crowne Plaza Hotel
Los Angeles, CA
January 29, 2009
The Jazz Brasserie at LA's Crowne Plaza Hotel is perfect for jazz, with its informal seating and focused performance platform. Situated not far from LAX, it's convenient for both Los Angelenos and longer haul travelers.
When vibraphonist Mark Sherman came to townand hooked up with old friends pianist John Campbell, bassist Tony Dumas and drummer Paul Kreibichhe brought an evening of bebop-flavored modern jazz and plenty of excitement with him. The vibraphone, after all, is one of the most visually arresting instruments, and Sherman's four mallets swerved left and right through some mighty fine grooves.
The group's three sets were each a mixture of originals and jazz standards. Old warhorses like "Confirmation," "Autumn Leaves," "Moon River" and (Miles Davis') "The Theme" received compelling readings. Of the originals, "Tip Top Rhythm," from Live at the Bird's Eye (Miles High, 2008), is especially memorable for the leader's exciting, up-tempo improvisation. When improvising, Sherman concentrates on the theme at hand and delivers a focused workout that flies like a dart in a whirlwind.
Sherman also works empathetically with his fellow musicians. During "The Theme," for example, he ended his solo with a quote from "Salt Peanuts," which Campbell picked up on at the start of his solo. Like many veteran jazz pianists, Campbell enjoys using occasional outside quotes in his solos. For contrast, his expressive interlude in "My One and Only Love" came laden with a heavy heart and lyrical charms.
Dumas soloed with authority and provided a strong foundation for the unit all night long. His sensitivity made transitions seamless as the quartet passed the baton from one player to another.
Kreibich, a first-call drummer on the LA jazz scene, emulates the vibraphone on his trap set through a thorough structural and melodic understanding of each tune. The result is a lyrical approach to drumming, where rhythmic figures follow word and meaning as Kreibich swings left, right, and forward to place each texture in its appropriate place.
The room served its purpose, allowing the band plenty of undivided audience attention, and encouraging a consistently creative performance in which Sherman sizzled from start to finish. Even the guys sitting at the bar, watching television, felt the need to turn occasionally to watch Sherman in action.