Friday, March 14, 2014

The art of the jazz trio

Morgan, Lamb, Chrupcala
The fine art of the jazz trio at its best was on full display this afternoon at the Venice (FL) Art Center. Except when it was the fine art of the jazz quartet.

Pianist Mac Chrupcala, who is based in Newport RI most of the year but snowbirds in Southwest Florida, performed with a powerhouse trio, featuring John Lamb on bass and Dave Morgan on drums. He also brought a special guest who sat in at the end of the first set and most of the second set.

Keven Aland
The guest artist was Nokomis-based violinist Keven Aland, who has a strong classical and symphonic background but has broadened his performance sphere to include pop, gypsy jazz, Latin jazz, straight-ahead jazz and world music.

Suffice it to say, Aland made many new musical fans on Friday. Heck, Chrupcala only heard him for the first time Tuesday night at a Sarasota sushi bar (Kazu's 2.0) - and invited him to Friday's gig.

The music was fun and swinging from start to finish, with Chrupcala telling the band up front that he considered this a trio of equals - and to feel free to play with the same zeal as if they were the leaders. They got the message.

Finest moments (although there were fine moments all afternoon): Chrupcala's extended exploration of "Have I Stayed Too Long at the Fair?" and the band's quartet takes on "Poinciana" and Gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt's ballad "Nuages." The latter was a natural choice with a violinist in the mix, reminding many in the room of Django's classic collaborations with St├ęphane Grappelli.

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