Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Roberts' jazz band bubbles with saxes

Jim Roberts
Pianist Jim Roberts was based in New York when he first performed for the Charlotte County Jazz Society at the nonprofit's first full-fledged concert back in 1991. Flash ahead 22 years from that trio date. Now based in Orlando, Roberts returned to the CCJS again Monday night for an Artists Series concert featuring his sextet, which quite appropriately uses the name Saxtet.

It consists of a rhythm section (Roberts, bassist Charlie Silva and drummer Eddie Metz Jr.) plus three saxophonists in the front line. Reed players Danny Jordan, David MacKenzie and Rex Wertz put an exclamation point on Roberts' intricate horn arrangements with their excellent solos and strong unison work. MacKenzie added a bass saxophone to his traditional arsenal of alto, tenor and flute, using the hefty horn to great effect on one tune in each set.

Favorite moments : the flute choir approach the band took to Thad Jones' ballad "A Child is Born" and the adagio from Joaquin Rodrigo's "Concierto De Aranjuez" (best known in jazz circles as the opening segment to Miles Davis-Gil Evans epic Sketches of Spain recording), as well as the saxtet's poignant take on Clifford Brown's "Daahoud." Other material ranged included Robert arrangements of compositions by John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, Kenny Dorham, Herbie Hancock, Jerome Kern and Sonny Rollins.

Metz had a fine feature on Louie Bellson's "Skin Deep." The mega-talented and versatile drummer will be back  at the Cultural Center Theater in Port Charlotte on January 13 with his all-star trio plus special guest Harry Allen on tenor sax.

Roberts, Jordan, Wertz, MacKenzie, Silva, Metz

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