Saturday, July 31, 2010

Pete Whitman's X-Tet at the Artists' Quarter: Concert notes

Laura Caviani
When: Thursday, July 29, 2010 • Where: Artists' QuarterWho: Pete Whitman, Dave Milne, and Dave Karr, saxophones; Jeff Rinear, trombone; Jeff Gottwig and Brad Shermock, trumpets; Dave Hagedorn, vibes; Laura Caviani, piano; Gordy Johnson, bass; Joe Pulice, drums

After AntiGravity at Studio Z, we go the AQ to hear the excellent X-Tet. It's their more-or-less monthly gig, which we miss too often, and we're already in St. Paul so of course we go. Plus tonight the band is celebrating the birthdays of leader/saxophonist/composer Pete Whitman and bassist Gordy Johnson and there will be cake.

The "little big band" formed by Whitman and Caviani first came together as a one-time thing in the early 2000s to make a record. Where's When (Artegra, 2002) was so well-received that they kept on keeping on. In January of this year they made their second album, recording live at the AQ over two nights.

When we arrive, around 9:30, few tables are available so we sit at the bar. More people come through the doors. It looks like a full house, it's more than a full stage, and the room is full of music. "Parallel Bars." A sweet and mellow "Light and Rain." Caviani's original "No Better Time." "Berdie," which Whitman wrote for a film (and jokingly describes as "hot off the press...if I can find my own part"). Milne's "Vanguard Shuffle," featuring Karr on the big bari sax, one of my favorite sounds in the world. Former X-Tet member Joe Cosgrove's "Epicycle." What a rare treat it is these days to hear a 10-piece jazz band live in a small room. Or a big room, for that matter.

One of the best jazz clubs in the world, Davis at the door, a crowd of (mostly) attentive listeners, Dan's Manhattans, a terrific band, wonderful music, chocolate cake. We can only stay for the first set (an early morning tomorrow) but we leave satisfied and someone else takes our seats at the bar.

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