Adam Larrabee Trio: Modern brew

With the Adam Larrabee Trio, guitarist Larrabee has formed a group whose reverence for the classics is tempered by a propulsive modern musicality.

Within the ever expanding catalogue of craft beers, beyond the basic definitions of IPAs and stouts, past the scholarly examinations of hops, malts, and yeasts, there is an entry for a saison brew. This revered style originated as thrifty brewers centuries ago salvaged spoiled batches simply by mixing it with good ones. Nowadays, the process is largely the same. Obsessive craft brewers, who follow the trajectory of each batch as if it were a developing child, steel themselves and allow their product to skunk. Later, when the same recipe is properly conditioned, the funky and the fine are mixed — the result an eloquent contradiction, subtle and biting and memorable.

The Adam Larabee Trio will tackle an equally epic and classic ferment on February 6, as part of RVAJazzfest at The Camel. The group, which boasts Larabee on guitar, Brian Jones on drums, and Randall Pharr on upright bass, will feature adaptations from the classic Duke Ellington/Charles Mingus/Max Roach album Money Jungle, as well as other standards and originals. The trio’s cover of Money Jungle ranges from faithful interpretations to Frisellian soundscapes and will be available for sale at the show.

Guitarist Adam Larabee, who graciously lacks the hipper-than-thou vibe of many less-pedigreed peers, says he stays inspired and relevant by teaching. He performs on mandolin and banjo in addition to guitar, and regards those corresponding styles with the same gusto as Ellington’s hollowed changes. In the always unpredictable Jones and rock-solid Pharr, he’s formed a group whose reverence for the classics is tempered by a propulsive modern musicality.

Significant artists, musicians and brewers included, exist to challenge our expectations of what is unique and good and important. Ellington confronted our notions of his dapper arrangements and polished composition style, just as brewers constantly reinvent and challenge our palettes. This weekend, as the Adam Larabee Trio offers a rare discussion of this odd, challenging, tumultuous album, there is little doubt that the jazz community in Richmond will reevaluate Money Jungle in a fresh, contemporary light.

RVAJazzfest featuring Ray Anderson & Ombak, Adam Larrabee Trio, and Trio of Justice takes place on Saturday, February 6, 2010, at 9pm at The Camel, 1621 W Broad St., Richmond VA. Click here to purchase tickets.

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Joey Ciucci

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