30 June 2008

Joy of standards

It was a drink with Megan and some mates rather than a listening session, but I thoroughly enjoyed Aron Lyon, Bill Willams and Ed Rodrigues playing Sunday afternoon at the Belgian Beer Cellar in Kingston. Dave Rodriguez has built up a busy schedule of weekly bar gigs for his trio, but he’s gone off to Europe and Aron’s filling in.

This is a standards gig, but the tunes are not too obviously played. There’s a real complexity, a constant, rich interaction between the players and musicality galore. The bass line is anything but pedestrian, with interesting, responsive lines alternating through syncopation and fast and steady walks. There are also the prescribed lines where required: Bill’s bass lines on Round Midnight were spot on and I’m sure I’m heard them before. Perhaps it was a transcription exercise. Aron’s lithe and fluent with a thin, sharp tonality rollicking over the rhythm section. Ed’s drumming is gentle and responsive. There are plenty of solos all round, but equally the accompaniment playing is richly improvised and strongly interactive. The tonality is stated, but it’s subtle. The tonics and fifths don’t always sit on the 1s and 3s. The melodies pass through and over the bar lines. The comping is melodic, diatonic, but rambles freely from the tonal centre, to imply tonality rather than declare it. There are implications of soft, Bill Evans fluidity in all this. This is sweet, complex, rewarding music, and it revives your love of the standards repertoire.

The trio is playing at the Belgian Beer Cellar in Kingston each Sunday afternoon. The beers are luxury (I don’t recommend the one with fresh cherries, but they say you should try everything once) with prices to match, but entry is free. The trio also play other venues each week. Check out the CJCalendar under Dave Rodriguez Trio. Really lovely stuff.

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