Monday, January 21, 2008
Valves Meet Slide: Back for More
Where: The Artists' Quarter
Who: Brad Bellows (valve trombone), Dave Graf (slide trombone), Peter Schimke (piano), Gordy Johnson (bass), Mac Santiago (drums)
I can't imagine a better way to spend a cold Minnesota Sunday afternoon than in the warm embrace of the Artists' Quarter. There's something about parking on the St. Paul streets, walking through the lighted arch over the 7th Place Pedestrian Mall, passing the goofy drummer mannequin in the window of the Hamm Building (we call him "Dusty"), and heading downstairs to the basement jazz club that makes you think all jazz clubs should be in basements. Like the Vanguard, like the Iridium, like the Standard.
As promised, Brad Bellows brought appetizers: crab dip, chips, cheese and sausage. We sat and snacked and enjoyed almost four hours of music by a group that sounds better each time I hear them. We heard tunes by Freddie Hubbard and Dave Karr, J.J. Johnson, Miles Davis, Gerry Mulligan, Jobim, Bob Brookmeyer, Tad Dameron, Horace Silver, and Fats Waller, almost all of which had been transcribed for the quintet's unusual configuration, and an original by Graf, "Going Away." Everyone sounded great, everyone looked happy and relaxed, and everyone had a chance to shine. Gordy Johnson in particular was about the best I've ever heard him; at one point, Graf said, "Gordy's on fire."
The event drew a sizable crowd for a Sunday afternoon that also featured big football games and a figure skating championship at nearby Excel Energy Center. I've heard this was something AQ owner Kenny Horst wanted to try to see if it would fly--would people come to the club on Sunday afternoon? Make it as good as this and they'll come.
Photo by John Whiting. L to R: Peter, Gordy, Mac, Dave, Brad.
Video by Don Berryman.