Saturday, December 22, 2007

Chris Bates and Poutums Jazz Trio

When: 12/20/07
Rogue Buddha Gallery
Who: Set 1: Chris Bates (solo bass); Set 2: Poutums Jazz Trio: Chris Thomson (saxophone), Adam Linz (bass), Alden Ikeda (drums); Jon Pemberton (trumpet)

Live jazz in an art gallery on a winter night. No, no, don't make me go. Surrounded by gallery owner Nicholas Harper's paintings (some of which I liked, some of which I didn't), we sat in folding chairs sipping red wine from plastic glasses hearing fine music for a suggested donation of $5. The crowd was SRO and not the usual jazz club group, more the art gallery group, with ones and twos sneaking outdoors to smoke throughout the evening.

I'm always happy to hear Chris Bates. His set ranged from solo improvisation to songs where he accompanied himself (on electronic loops, some prepared ahead of time and some recorded on the spot) to bowing that made me think of Edgar Meyer's recording of Bach's cello suites on double bass. We often think of bass as needing something else—piano, horns, percussion—to be meaningful, but in the right hands it stands alone.

I like the big, low instruments: bass, baritone saxophone, bari clarinet, tuba (as played by Stefan Kac). To me, these are solar plexus instruments; the sound (especially the sound of the bass) stays in the center of the body and hums. I also like the bass because it's an instrument you embrace to play, like a dancing partner.

If I could wake up tomorrow knowing how to play any instrument, it would be the bass. I once thought about studying with Herbie Lewis, who said he'd be willing to take me on. He passed away in May of this year. If you follow this link and read the obituary Don Berryman wrote for Jazz Police, you'll also see a photograph Andrea Canter took of Lewis with Frank Morgan, who died a little over a week ago.

After Bates's set, it takes a few moments for the Poutums trio to set up, and the second they start to play, the whole gallery fills with music, like water rushing in. We're sitting right in front of Linz's bass, so again it's the bass that gets my attention. Linz plays like he could pull the strings right off the neck, tugging and yanking and grabbing great fistsful. He strums and plucks and pats the instrument, pulls it close and pushes it away, twirls and dips it—like a dancing partner.

At first, Thomson and Pemberton stand at opposite ends of the group, having a warm, brassy dialogue; at the end of the set, they're beside each other, weaving in and out of each other's notes. Ikeda drums with sticks and hands; it's my second time seeing him perform and I like him. The music is tuneful and beautiful.

Bates, Linz, and Thomson are frequent participants in the Rogue Buddha's iQuit Music Series, of which this evening was a part. The space is interesting, there's parking nearby, the music is good, and the price is right.

Meanwhile I wonder what Poutums means.

Photographs: Chris Bates; Chris Thomson and Adam Linz being observed by a sourpuss Nicholas Harper painting. All shot in a dark gallery at ISO 1600.

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