23 August 2014
After Blue Note, to a true jazz dive. Smalls is different. Small, lax, informal, cheap, downstairs, full of local musos searching for contacts and a hip audience that feels like the beat generation must have been in the fifties. (And a few snappily dressed characters with references to other eras. It’s interesting how themes re-emerge. We talk now of hipsters. The original hipsters – or hepcats - were from ~1940 and led to the beat generation.) This is a place of informality although there’s a seriousness and passion here; it’s just expressed easily. We heard two bands then the start of a jam session that would presumably go for the night. Frank Lacey (trombone) led a driving hard-bop Smalls Legacy Band with Duane Eubanks (trumpet), Stacy Dillard (tenor), Theo Hill (piano), Russell Hall (bass) and Kush Abadey (drums). Plenty of hard driving swing from Bobby Watson, Freddie Hubbard and the like. Russell Hall stayed on to play with a trio of Kyle Poole (drums) and Emmet Cohen (piano). They played a short contemporary set with close interaction, open eyes and lots of smiles before opening up for a Next Generation (read, jam) session. We heard a few trumpets, a few guitars, a tenor, replacement pianists and bass before we set off, but it was going strong. Smalls is obviously a community as well as a venue and we were just visitors but it remains a special place on my jazz map. Just some pics.