Monday, February 6, 2012

Jazz Face: Billy Peterson's Rhapsody

© Andrea Canter

Outside of the Twin Cities, Billy Peterson is probably best known for his two+ decades of work with the Steve Miller Band. But here at home, and particularly over the past six months, Billy literally has served as the house bassist at the Artists Quarter, appearing with a wide range of jazz artists from vocalists to quartets and trios, from established bands to new configurations. He’s also been working steadily with vocalist Pippi Ardennia as her “house band” bassist for the monthly PipJazz concert series at Landmark Center, a stirring blend of down-home jazz, blues and R&B.

Do not, under any circumstances or any label, underestimate Billy’s jazz chops, which are among the best anywhere. Listen to his comping. Better yet, listen to his sleight-of-hand solos.

Last week, I happened to catch Billy two consecutive nights at the AQ, with the Phil Aaron Trio and then with the Chris Lomheim Trio. With both ensembles, he played “I Hear a Rhapsody,” leading into the tune with a long solo and pretty much leading the way through the tune to the finish. The particulars varied across the two nights, of course, and for me the standout moments came in his dueling with Lomheim.

On that second night, midway into “Rhapsody,” as Billy and his instrument spun through their exquisite pas de deux, my friend leaned over and whispered, “You can tell, he really loves that bass.”

So do we.

Photos: Billy Peterson at the Artists Quarter (2/1/12). Photos by Andrea Canter.