- Melina Paris
By Melina Paris, Music Columnist
When you go to see a performance by musicians whose very nature it is to play, it’s as though you’ve crossed a threshold. The seamless flow between their individual expressions, the continuity of harmony, the building of melody and bridges, and clean sound uplifts you.
The Jazz Giants Sessions performance at the Grand Annex April 28, delivered a great show, as expected.
Drummer Al Williams, bassist Henry Franklin and pianist Gary Matsumoto made it an intimate concert experience in this theater setting ideal for music lovers. With two extended sets of standards, they captured the audience.
On Thelonious Monk’s Monk’s Dream, all heads were be bopping to the distinctly upbeat tune. Franklin’s bass leading started nice and easy. Matsumoto soon displayed his grace and vigor, as if Fred Astaire was tap dancing on the keys. Amid all of this,Williams transitioned into a solo, pounding out an echoing riff of giant beats on his drums. It was a powerful juxtaposition of light and rhythmic vibrations.
From bebop to Latin tinged to straight ahead, many numbers they performed gravitated toward themes of love. On You and the Night and the Music, Williams, taking a long drum solo, resembled a scientist on behind his kit designing a complex array of phrases worthy of the many nuances of passion.
Franklin’s upright bass told the story on I Fall in Love Too Easily. He created harmonies manipulating his strings with deep tones as resonant as a whale’s call. In response, Williams ever so slightly let the sweep of his drums sound like waves hitting the shore. Matsumoto’s nimble fingers on keys played as elegantly as birds in descending flight skimming the water’s surface. The trio’s grace was remarkable in this interplay of oceanic sounds. The music they created sweet-talked listeners into letting their imaginations roam.
These are the footsteps of jazz giants. In our complicated world these are just the type of sessions to prescribe deep peace.
Look for Thin Man Entertainment’s next Jazz Giants Sessions May 27, at the Grand Annex.