Ladies Shook the Earth, and then There Was Jazz

  • 04/07/2014
  • Reporters Desk

By Melina Paris, Music Columnist

At about 9 p.m. March 28, the stage at the Seabird Jazz lounge rocked. Then, it rolled, it shook and it moved smoothly.

The female quartet Lady Jazz was just into their first set, stirring the room with their soulful take on jazz standard, “Autumn Leaves” when an earthquake struck, as if it was an afterthought.

The audience joined in with jovial commentary on how their music moved this room. The best part, aside from being safe, was we got to hear the song again, happy recipients of a live replay. Not missing a beat they picked it up with gusto.

This evening the Lady Jazz lineup was comprised of Lindsey Hundley on piano and electronic keys, Sherry Luchette on upright and electric bass, Lauren Kosty on vibes and percussion, and Rivkah Ross on drums.

With “Autumn Leaves,” they peeled back complex layers of this number. Luchette’s bass was noticeably clear. I took special note of that, as it can sometimes be difficult to hear bass players consistently amidst a quartet. This was a refreshing change. Hundley’s soulful playing alongside the funky bass, a nice touch of congas and softly-tumbling drums made this number speak out loud. At one point Hundley played classical tones on her piano, the number was well paced and elegant.

The next number, an original called “Agina” began with a gentle bossa nova beat and soon built into a big groove. In an interesting arrangement Luchette on bass worked it very close to a straight ahead bebop sound while the rest of the band caressed us weaving in and out of the changes. But wait, the number started to pick up to a swift bossa and virtually transformed into a salsa. Then, Ross went into the first of multiple amazing drum solos through the night. She elevated the beats to downright steaming; serving us a bop. She lit up the room then coolly returned to the bossa sound they started this flow with.

“Fly Me to the Moon” came alive. Featuring Kosty on vibes she started smooth with double batons in each hand. In a creative show of timing and skill, exactly at the end of the last note on the vibe, Hundley picked that chord up and carried it out precisely on her keys, — identical tone with a different medium. It was beautiful to watch the unmistakable communication as they then picked up the pace largely, in double time. I could still hear Luchette’s bass even as Hundley pounded the keys and the drums kept it all flying high.

The next song, “Gabby’s Sandwiches” was the highlight among the evening’s explosive performance. As Hundley said, “It’s a busy one, so enjoy”.

One word: “percussion.” Hundley’s hands were striking the strings — inside the piano, not on the keys but in. This amazing sound sent out reverberations. Then, she beat the lower keys deep down to the absolute lowest tones on her piano moving right on up to the higher range her digits rapidly tapping the ivories,  as if they singed her fingertips. Her piano sounded like two instruments at once, soulful while straight ahead, alongside Ross’s exotic pace on the drums, using both her brushes and sticks. The vibes crept in with an ethereal sound and Hundley’s playing culminated in a classical tone as they reach completion of this avant garde piece.

“The Girls Colors,” by the Brazilian Jovino Santos Neto is an elegant number that swings with joy. Hundley played a percussive piano and Ross on drums kept building and creating power right alongside her. Hundley’s chords seduced with the charm of a light and beautiful dancer. Hearing the two distinctly, while in unison, was an elevating experience.

With the number, “Have You Met Miss Jones?” the announcer in the club named it “Have you Met Miss Hundley?” instead because Hundley rewrote the bass lines for this version. Hundley came out on the keys swinging hard, tickling the chords and playing outside the changes simultaneously. She commanded attention; the band so clearly followed her lead yet, held individual expression. Another timing change and Lady Jazz just picked it up to what sounds like a tenfold leap. It was wild. Then, Ross, on her drums, barreled in strong from an outer continuum bringing her rhythms down to the ground again to close.

Herbie Hancock’s “Cantaloupe Island” was deeply embedded in funk. Hundley on electric keys employed an effect sounding like a wah wah peddle — on keys twisting yet moving straight through the room. Kosty’s vibes skimmed to the top of the melody elevating the groove.  Ross’ drums tantalized in powerful, sensory movements to her beats and her cymbals chime-like bells in expressions of release. Her brushes stroke the drums and her rhythms utterly drew listeners in.  They were not finished. Hundley took it deeper sending out shockwaves, drums by her side, bass pushing it down, until Ross switched things up building, taking it higher till they take it through the roof again all together.

On an entirely different plane they continued to raise our senses by following with Johann Sebastian Bach’s “The French Suite in B Minor” (the jazz version). Hundley ever so smoothly switched from classical to jazz. There is no dividing line, one becomes the other. Within the periphery of the two there is an elevation, an accompaniment of both genres at once creating a complete movement. It was sublime.

Lady Jazz will move you through an array of elevated passions as you may see. They have boundless good energy. Of the handful of times I have seen this show with rotating female player’s one thing remains constant: the connection. With their audience or among the group, it is part of Lady Jazz. I will take it a step further, as a woman and a fan of the music, seeing these talented female artists together and feeling that infinite energy is an encounter in that live charge of connectivity and sisterhood.

Catch the next Lady Jazz show at Seabird May 3.


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