Saturday, September 25, 2010

Good Vibes, Again Tonight at the AQ

© Andrea Canter

If, like me, you grew up on the unique sound of the Modern Jazz Quartet, or if you otherwise have an affinity for the hollow beauty of the vibraphone, you need to come down to the Artists Quarter tonight (9/25) for the second and last night of Ben Thomas. Based in Seattle, Thomas will be on stage with former grad school cohort Laura Caviani and her trio, bassist Jeff Bailey and drummer Phil Hey. They drew a decent crowd last night, and we were all treated to one stunning arrangement after another, including an unforgettable “All the Things You Area,” topsy-turvy “I Mean You” and sizzling “Alone Together.” And then there was Laura’s “Paper Cranes,” an elegant homage to a trip to Japan which she plays often, but this is the first time I’ve heard it with vibraphone. It’s a match made in heaven.

Laura noted she has recently been delving into the works of Abdullah Ibrahim (aka Dollar Brand), and the quartet performed a favorite of mine, “The Mountain.” Or sometimes it’s titled “Mountain of the Night.” At least that’s how it appears on Lynne Arriale’s Inspiration, where I first heard it. And Ibrahim himself has recorded the tune under both titles. No matter. It is one of the most gorgeous melodies in the piano literature, and with vibes, it is transcendent. Maybe they will play it again tonight. And I’m hoping they cover some of Thomas’s compositions again. Last night, I didn’t stay late enough. Tonight I will.

Photos: Ben Thomas at the Artists Quarter, September 24th. (Photos by Andrea Canter)