Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A stunning return by a crafty jazz band

Jim Roberts
You experience far more than great playing when pianist Jim Roberts brings his sextet to town. That was clear on Monday, November 14 when Orlando-based Roberts performed at the Charlotte County Jazz Society's concert series with his Saxtet.
Danny Jordan

The band features three reed players:  Danny Jordan, Rex Wertz and David MacKenzie - all doubling on sax and flute. They are backed by Roberts, bassist Charlie Silva and drummer Eddie Metz Jr. 

The glue for this evening was Roberts' exquisite arrangements of classic jazz material. His arrangements are intricate, revealing counterpoint moments for the three horns as well as many melodic nuances not heard in the original recordings. His piano introductions to the tunes are thoughtful and sometimes teasing as they begin to reveal the core melody.
David MacKenzie

Rex Wertz
Roberts brought a trio to Port Charlotte when he was featured at CCJS' first full-fledged concert in 1991. He's been a regular visitor ever since, most often with the Saxtet. It last appeared at the Cultural Center Theater in 2013. 

A repeat of some material from prior years is unavoidable during a Roberts performance.. But every version sounded fresh due to the improvised solos as the band dug into Clifford Brown's "Daahoud," the exquisite flute chorus  on "Thad Jones' "A Child is Born" and Joaquin Rodrigo's "Concerto De Aranjuez," and a triple tenor-sax romp through Sonny Rollins' "Tenor Madness," among others. 

Metz and MacKenzie
Gems not heard in 2013 included the Bill Evans' ballad "Turn Out the Stars," two Miles Davis classics - "So What" and "All Blues," and Wayne Shorter's "Speak No Evil." All of them provided strong moments for this savvy band. 

Metz, one of the finest and most versatile drummers on the planet, stunned on "Jumpin' at the Woodside," which co-featured MacKenzie on alto sax, and Louie Bellson's "Skin Deep."
Roberts, Jordan, Wertz, MacKenzie, Silva, Metz

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