Alan Parker 5, Jason Scott 5, and Trio of Justice transformed Monday night with all new music. There’s a theory going around that Wednesday is the new Saturday in Richmond. Does that make Monday the new Wednesday?
There’s something special about jazz on Monday nights around here. The evening is often left blank on the calendars, reserved for people to stay home and lament the return of the working week. Not all of us are lamenters, though, and some people can really get behind a solid night of Monday music. In this case, solid it was last night at The Camel with three bands: two brand new quintets and a trio with a new name.
The evening began with Trio of Justice, the sousaphone-trombone-drums trio formerly known as R2Dtoo (named for its members Reggie Chapman, Reggie Pace, and Devonne Harris). Low brass and percussion — perhaps the two instrument families capable of the loudest volumes and heaviest weights — are their tools, and their only ones. Their sound is deep: aside from the snare drum’s crack and the cymbals’s pings and washes, very few tones from the band register as anything but bass or baritone. The upper registers that people are used to hearing in music are not as present, but the three seem to realize this and use their inventive abilities to accommodate for the missing frequencies. They are experts in natural-sounding grooves in the oddest of meter combinations (that are guided by melody, not contrived logic) and loose time feels that speed and slow to radical extremes.
Like most Richmond musicians, the men of the Jason Scott 5 are no strangers to playing together, but it’s new to see them collaborating in a group like this one. Guitarist Scott Burton augments the small group of Fight the Big Bull members: tenor saxophonist and clarinetist Scott, trumpeter Bob Miller, bassist Cameron Ralston, and drummer Pinson Chanselle. Despite the personnel, a FTBB microcosm is the last thing that the Jason Scott 5 is.
With an affection for the music of Lennie Tristano, Warne Marsh, and Lee Konitz (his gig last week featured the music of all three), some of Jason’s original compositions are melodically quick, complex, and thrilling. “Department of Ed.” was glorious and constantly evolved to new sections, each one related to the last but still different. The Ornette Coleman-ish “E.M.T.” began with a Blackwell/Haden drum and bass vamp before a staggering melody entered, diving in and out of three-part harmony. “Character 2052” told the tale of Jason’s essay-writing frustrations and difficulties with the Richmond Department of Education in a klezmer-rock and, again, evolving style. “ANA” was simply beautiful.
Many of the tunes were composed by Jason for his graduate recital at NYU seven years ago. With a strong group giving the music life once again, this group would make a brilliant album. And hopefully they do, soon.
The lights dimmed for the Alan Parker 5, another new combination of familiar musicians. This time, the guitarist has added bassist Andrew Randazzo and tenor saxophonist Kevin Simpson along with his former AP Connect 4 members Billy Williams on drums and tenor saxophonist Marcus Tenney. Marcus is still a relatively new convert from the trumpet to tenor sax, but he more than just holds his own on the new instrument. His and Kevin’s playing offset each other nicely: Marcus’s tone is bright with Coltrane-like flurries and arpeggios, while Kevin has more of a weathered sound. Billy’s drumming is similar to other contemporary and “urban” jazz drummers like Chris Dave and Jamire Williams: explosive, pulling from modern sources of rhythm, and heavily syncopated.
Alan’s compositions are Jazz Now material, exciting and challenging, but extremely accessible thanks to fat beats and funky melodies.