"Killer Music Opens New San Pedro Jazz Spot"
by KURT R. "SKOOTS" LARSON
Random Lengths News - Aug. 2005
The Rosalie & Alva Performance Gallery, long known as San Pedro's premier dance studio and school, launched a new series of jazz concerts on Saturday, July 24 with a performance by Luther Hughes and the Cannonball-Coltrane Project. The Performance Gallery, a medium-size room that features excellent acoustics, is a perfect location for live music with casual comfortable seating for some forty or fifty people and not a bad seat in the house.
The Cannonball-Coltrane Project provided musical kismet for the new venue's opening with some of the finest improvisation to be heard anywhere. Bassist Luther Hughes formed this group as a tribute to saxophone giants Julian "Cannonball" Adderly and John Coltrane. Surely Adderly and Coltrane would be honored by the work of alto sax-man Bruce Babad and tenorman Glenn Cashman in saluting their memory. These amazing reed-men were supported by Hughes on bass violin, pianist Ed Czach and drummer Paul Kreibich, a rhythm section that would have delighted Cannonball and Coltrane.
After a brief welcome from Rosalie & Alvas impresario Matt Lincir, the band kicked off an original "gem" they call "Sapphire" at a horserace tempo. Altoist Babad tore into the first solo with velocity and veracity that voiced very tone in each chord's range, his fingers moving around the horn with mechanical precision. Cashman's tenor followed adding fire to what was already an adlib inferno. Cashman's statement proved pleasantly reminiscent of the early John Coltrane that toured with the Miles Davis Quintet.
Ed Czach took the baton from Cashman with a full-voice piano showing a strong influence of the late Lennie Tristano. Czach's Lydian runs, like Babad's, took full advantage of the tune's tonal pallet. Leader Hughes enhanced the fabric of the song with some very tasty use of his string bass's unique range of sound.
Original tribute tunes performed included such titles as "Trane Remembered," "The Old Ball and Trane," and "Julian." While all these compositions excelled as jazz vehicles, a favorite of the evening was a take-off on Cannonball's big hit "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" entitled "No Mercy." Babad captured the soulful side of Mr. Adderly's sound with a churchy bluesy timbre woven from bent notes and lipped glissandos that soared above the typical alto range. Babad's funky explorations bred more of the same from his fellows to create a most remarkable blue's memory.
Another highlight of the evening was "Partido Mar Vista," a song in a Latin-Brazilian meter written by drummer Kreibich. As a break from the evening's straight-ahead jazz feel, Kreibich's number displayed the Cannonball-Coltrane Project's versatility. "Partido" also gave Kreibich the opportunity to stretch out and demonstrate his percussion virtuosity.
After the concert, this writer went home and dug out the original and only recording made by Adderly and Coltrane together in 1959. Remarkably, the tribute in some cases actually sounded better than the original group with more advanced techniques and voicings in the music.
An audience of primarily local `Pedro folks seemed to find great enjoyment with the Cannonball-Coltrane tribute. Attendance was good for a new jazz location with a small amount of advance advertising bringing some folks from greater distances around southern California.
Matt of Rosalie & Alvas' is a self-proclaimed Jazz-a-holic. The Performance Center is definitely a labor of love for him. We can only hope that this fine setting will continue on and draw larger crowds to support the music. If you are a jazz fan, you might contact Matt by e-mailing email@example.com or by telephone at (800) 403-3447 to add your name to their mailing list. The Rosalie & Alvas Performance Center is definitely a superb addition to the San Pedro cultural scene.