Monday, May 5, 2008

Red Planet

When: 5/3/08
Where: Artists' Quarter
Who: Dean Magraw (guitar), Chris Bates (bass), Jay Epstein (drums)

We last saw this remarkable trio in December
, when it was also (for part of the evening) a quartet, with Gary Schulte on violin. Tonight we skip the second set of the Mike Vax Big Band and arrive at the AQ midway through the first tune, something slow and mellow. For the moment it's just Dean and Chris, then Jay walks quietly on stage, unpacks his sticks and brushes, then begins softly brushing the drums. A lovely start to an evening full of music worth close listening.

They rarely tell us what they're playing; Magraw mugs at the mike but never quite gets around to saying "That was a tune by ____ and here comes a tune by ____." Next time I'll request the set list, if there is one. I know we hear something by Dave Holland, something about a place on the Asian steppes where the wind never stops blowing, a Chris Bates tune, Monk's "Let's Cool One" (which I think is a Django tune because it swings so hard), and the group's signature "Viva Coltrane," a long piece incorporating many of John Coltrane's compositions. Throughout the evening, Magraw is jazz man, folkie, and rock god, wailing away on a guitar so white it's blinding. We stay through both sets.

Back in December, Don Berryman made a video of Red Planet performing Coltrane. Especially if you haven't experienced this group in person (and even if you have), it's worth seeing and hearing.

Photos by John Whiting.

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