Alex Sadnik Quintet
Better than…going swimming in Long Beach.
Saxophonist Alex Sadnik is not a household name but he's trying. Aside from booking and playing a handful of rooms around the Long Beach area, he has embarked on a more globally minded project — a podcast. Last night, Sadnik presented his quintet in tribute to late hardbop trumpeter Lee Morgan at Fingerprints Record Store alongside his most recent interviewee, trumpeter Ron Stout.
For the most part Sadnik's podcast, “Break the Mold,” focuses on local jazz artists like Anthony Wilson and Kim Richmond. In a sprawling, anything-goes atmosphere, Sadnik stays out of the way allowing his guests to guide the conversation anywhere they see fit, with only the gentlest prodding. On his recent three hour-long episodes with trumpeter Ron Stout, Sadnik gave ample space for the local veteran to espouse his opinions on nearly every subject from piano legend Horace Silver to the uselessness of critics.
With Marc Maron's “WTF” podcast at the front of his mind and Jason Crane's “Jazz Session” lingering just behind, Sadnik has embarked on a West Coast aural jazz history project that shows no signs of stopping and aimed at the stars. His ultimate guest? Saxophonist Charles Lloyd.
For this night, however, Sadnik wasn't there for an interview. He was there to play. The two horn front line, placing Stout in Morgan's shoes, rolled through close harmonies on most of the melodies, even providing the occasional subtle horn backing to rhythm section solos. Stout, with his Santa Claus beard, wasn't nearly as talkative as he was on Sadnik's podcast, choosing instead to speak in short swinging bursts with his trumpet before taking a modest step to the side for others to enjoy the spotlight.
Sadnik, who handled the minimal patter, gave a few frantic solos before settling nicely into Jimmy Heath's “CTA,” backed only by the bass and drums. His decision to do a night of Lee Morgan was mostly motivated by a desire to learn more about the trumpeter's legacy, having delved into a night of Wayne Shorter previously.
Pianist Doug Carter mostly overcame his tinny Nord keyboard and provided a brisk solo on “Totem Pole,” shortly after Stout's torrent of precision and hit a rising barrage of his own on the break on “CTA.” His turning phrases were breezy but occasionally winded on the tune.
It was the other two members of the rhythm section that carried a lot of the weight. Bassist Anthony Shadduck repeatedly offered tasteful solos from the opening number until set closer “The Rumproller,” where he strutted over drummer James Yoshizawa's gentle cross-sticking. Yoshizawa kept a patient swing throughout the set but, like the rest of the band, offered his most inspired take on Morgan's “Ceora.”
The band hit their stride with that airy ballad. Stout provided a searching solo that drew the largest applause from the audience while Carter and Shadduck laid down measured solos of their own. Yoshizawa spent most of his time on a tambourine, floating a simple samba off of the rattling percussion instrument. Although they were capable of pushing the tempo, the laid back tune seemed to fit them best.
Personal Bias: A used copy of my band's last EP is on sale at Fingerprints for $7.99. What a bargain!
The Crowd: Lots of dudes in hoodies and bros in flip-flops.
Random Notebook Dump: The old Fingerprints in Belmont Shore, although full of charm, really can't compete with the warehouse they have got on Fourth Street. The only thing I miss is getting pizza on the corner. Nonetheless, props to anyone who can expand an independent record shop in this century.