It's the week before Halloween, and with my dad in a bachelor mode tonight with my mom out of town, we headed to the Musicquarium to listen to four of our local favorites: Rick Mandyck, Jeff Johnson, John Bishop, and my brother Thomas. The Origin Mondays at the Triple Door's Musicquarium are always fun, and this night in particular, as a considerate, listening audience was present (as opposed to the potential inconsiderate, talking audience that tends to be present).
After scarfing down some Seven Flavor Beef, the band launched into a groovy version of Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise. They followed this with a saxophonist favorite, Take the Coltrane, side-stepped through a beautiful ballad (can't remember the name, now, of course), pounded away through Rick's composition, Side Air Bags, and ended the set with the Stanley Clarke composition that seems to make the rounds in every Seattle jazz group, Why Wait.
It should be noted that the Earshot Jazz Festival was in full effect in the large room with Dave Douglas and his Fatty Arbuckle tribute project. Dave took the time to check out a scorching trumpet solo by Thomas during the second set on Frank Foster's composition, Simone. He shoulda stuck around! The second set evolved with Rick's little ditty, Short Shorts, Wayne Shorter's This is For Albert, and closed the set off with more Wayne, this time something from the Miles Davis book, Fall. The short third set was made up of McCoy Tyner's The Greeting, Joe Henderson's Inner Urge, and Claudine Francois' Trapeze.
I love this band -- it presents four very unique, defined, and adventurous improvisors in one band, and yet they are all able to function in what seems like a position of comfort. Most of the time, the all-star concept doesn't work, for whatever reasons, but there is an air of mutual respect among these four that really makes for great music, and great music-making. John Bishop seems constantly involved with making something happen, even if that means taking himself out of the equation. Jeff Johnson, whether improvising from the melody or taking a more free approach, always contributes the right note for the soloist's melody. Thomas -- well, he is my brother, but I can't say enough about his playing of late; he sounds mature, confident, and fearless -- a winning combination for any trumpet-player. And then there is Rick Mandyck -- I've written so much about him on this blog already, but he keeps me coming back for more and more and more. If I haven't said it before (which I know I have), I'll say it again: go hear Rick Mandyck.