Dwight Trible Cosmic Band
The World Stage
It began shortly after midnight, where the Los Angeles grid unravels into Leimert Park. At the World Stage, vocalist Dwight Trible oversaw a tight band and a rapt, full congregation, delivering a nearly two-hour concert of ecstatic positivity and consummate musicianship.
The band, featuring pianist Mark de Clive-Lowe, bassist Trevor Ware, drummer Dexter Story, violist Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, and harpist Radha Botofasina, opened with a mid-tempo tune that featured a particularly authoritative bass solo from Ware. His solid notes rose over Atwood-Ferguson's tense accompaniment.
Without pausing, the band segued into a pentatonic flutter that summoned Trible to the stage, percussion in hand. His pulled-taffy baritone bubbled up and spread across the room, taking command of the band and his audience. The band continued to build as Trible sermonized before leaving the stage and allowing the instrumentalists room to solo. When he re-emerged, he was wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the face of drummer Billy Higgins locked in mid-performance abandon. Trible would make the same expression throughout the set.
Midway through, de Clive-Lowe played a gentle piano intro to Trible's biblical chant. "In the beginning" wafted over both Ware and Atwood-Ferguson's slow bowing. With a quick "1-2-3-4" Trible launched the band into a hard-swinging turn that pushed Atwood-Ferguson into four-stringed shrieks. Trible pounded his tambourine, controlling each step of the band's crescendo, leaving them wide-eyed and breathless by the end.
Trible followed with an original entitled "Then I'll Be Tired of You." De Clive-Lowe's block chord intro established the straight-ahead ballad, while Atwood-Ferguson's solo summoned Stephane Grappelli's economic flights. This tune proved to be merely a breather.
Ware kicked off the next song with a propulsive vamp that inspired a brief bout of clapping from the audience. Trible erupted with vocal explosions, sometimes clutching the microphone to his chest but belting high above the frenetic band. After a series of hard-driving solos, Trible drew the song to a close with a devolving repetition of "be there brother. Be there sister." Each reiteration was longer and less decipherable.
Following an emotive ballad with just the pianist, Trible returned to testifying. After a slow start he began to accelerate the band with his clapping. Within minutes the audience joined him, sweating and swaying to every pummeling note. Atwood-Ferguson gave a wild solo while de Clive-Lowe reached deep into the hard-bop bag.
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The band closed with a gentle Ahmad Jamal propulsion. Story's mallets helped usher in Trible's slow burn on the Five Stairsteps' "Ooh Child," reducing it to molasses with his long, low tones. His closing, whispered sermon left the crowd believing that perhaps things were in fact going to get easier.
Personal Bias: Ten years after his passing, Billy Higgins' store-front jazz church still thrives under the careful watch of his disciples. It is reassuring that his legacy continues just as he left it.
The Crowd: A living Benetton ad with a sense of swing.
Random Notebook Dump: Instead of a cover charge they should have passed a collection plate.