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Red, White and Blue Notes 

Thursday, Jun 30 2011
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It's hard to imagine a more patriotic bunch than jazz musicians. There ain't one that doesn't fly the flag from his pad every day, and come national holidays they fly two. There's an old alto player in the Valley who flies three, and stands out front saluting them. On the Fourth of July, jazz musicians go crazy. They got the fireworks. They got the parades. They got the BBQs with the red, white and blue bunting all over the place. And they have the "Yankee Doodle" circular breathe-a-thon down at the Union Hall, which last year went on till the room ran out of oxygen. All these guys in Uncle Sam costumes turning blue in the face, the tune reharmonized into "Cherokee" — it gets pretty surreal. What we're getting at is that, due to love of country, the jazz pickings are a little scarce this week. There are some fine shows, just not so many as usual.

We'll begin by saying that if you're a jazz writer, you never call nobody a genius. All the other way smarter writers look at you and wonder how you could be dumb enough to call somebody a genius. And the poor bastard you called a genius gets stuck with the label. Hey genius, the other players say, you can't figure that out? So we would never call Dwight Trible a genius. But, man, does he blow our mind. We've never heard singing like this.

His voice is an instrument, yeah, but more than an instrument. More than a voice. We don't know what it is. A lot of you out there will hate it. It'll creep you out. It's just too different. But a lot of you will be pinned to your barstools, scared to move lest you knock over a glass and interfere with the sound. On bass, he has Trevor Ware, whose notes are big, warm, alive. Trible anchors himself to them. The piano pumps furiously on the crazy passages, or laces around Trible in delicate patterns. And the drummer ... well, we're getting lost in verbiage here. You can't describe Dwight Trible. Words bounce off what he does like bugs off a windshield. He's at the Blue Whale on Saturday.

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And eclectic pianist Richard Sears has his excellent little trio this week. His drummer Kevin Yokota, who comes from somewhere up in the Central Valley, is terrific. They're at the Blue Whale on Friday. One of our fave tenors ever, Don Menza, is at Charlie O's on Saturday with John Heard on bass. Tenor Doug Webb is playing nothing but 'Trane at the Lighthouse on Sunday from 11 a.m. with a killer quartet, including pianist Mahesh Balasooriya, bassist Jeff Littleton and drummer Kevin Kanner. And it's the Hermosa Pier in the summer, too, my oh my. The flat-out classic tenor Red Holloway plays Hollywood & Highland on Tuesday, and it's free and outside and there are huge elephants and tourists in clothes they think we wear out here. Afterward at Charlie O's, it's the Jimmy Branly quartet. Jimmy plays traps like no other. And we've dug tenor Fred Horn quite a while now, and his Horace Silver tribute at the Crowne Plaza on Thursday features trumpeter Josh Aguilar and the young Charlie O's house pianist Andy Langham. Cool.

(Brick can be reached at brickjazz@yahoo.com.)

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