Friday, October 11, 2013

Nickelson excels in jazz setting

LaRue Nickelson
Guitarist LaRue Nickelson's Tampa-based jazz trio opened the Englewood Art Center portion of the South County Jazz Club's 2013-14 season today.

Nickelson is a modernist who shows great respect for players who influenced him. He has absorbed many such influences - including Tal Farlow, Jim Hall, Pat Martino and Jimmy Raney - but parrots none of them when delivering his own take on standard fare. His bandmates were bassist Mark Neuenschwander and drummer Ian Goodman. (All three are on the University of South Florida music faculty.)

My favorite moments: the band's poignant take on the Benny Golson ballad "I Remember Clifford," written for the late trumpeter Clifford Brown, and a beautiful unexpected mash-up.

A mash-up, also known as an acoustic smash, refers to the practice of playing two tunes together in seamless, layered fashion. That's the goal - and this one worked well. The trio performed "Green Dolphin Street" over the rhythmic bass line from The Beatles' classic "Come Together."

Neuenschwander opened with the stirring bass line - and kept it up - as Nickelson joined in with the "Green Dolphin Street" melody line. Oh, the music they weaved. Mid-tune, Nickelson dropped a few melodic snippets from "Come Together" into his extended solo, and did so again on the coda to great effect.

All because one audience member suggested "Green Dolphin Street" and another asked for a Beatles tune. It was rather magical.

LaRue Nickelson, Ian Goodman, Mark Neuenschwander

The South County Jazz Club's season of 25 concerts in six different Englewood, Sarasota and Venice venues continues on October 25 with trumpeter Bob DelFausse's quintet at the Venice Art Center.

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