by Willie Clark
I only had one show at the Jazz Fest Tuesday night -- contrary to popular belief, other types of music do still go on during the festival, and I'll have a full photo slideshow of Motion City Soundtrack's Water Street show up on City's Facebook in the morning. But at least my one jazz show of the evening was a good one.
Coming to us via Scotland, Tommy Smith & Karma put out an enjoyable blend of styles, cultures, and tastes. You could hear the varied world influences throughout the songs, from Scottish and Irish folk tunes, to fiercer rock-heavy songs held together by strong drum work, and I swear I heard some Egyptian sax lines thrown in there as well.
The group had the extremes worked out quite well. It was soft and serene at its sweetest moments, and strong, confident, and energetic during its bellowing louder sections. It was a good variety and showed off the group's dynamics, no pun intended. The musicians' range and skill was further showcased in the feature solo sections. Not often have I heard a soft, almost weeping, electric bass solo, but here one was, and Smith's sax work went from whispery to wild and back again.
Unfortunately for the slower and softer numbers, Xerox Auditorium was quite quite echoey, to the point where even Smith called it a cave. It made me wonder if amplification was even needed for this smaller venue. It wasn't very noticeable during the louder tunes, but some of the very intimate and on-pins-and-needles solos were working against the acoustics of the theater. Regardless it was an enjoyable show, wide in its scope and great in its execution, even if it wasn't quite as Celtic as I would have hoped.
Wednesday I'm back to triple duty for the festival, with Bill Evans Soulgrass (which may be the group I'm most excited for this whole week), Rich Thompson Trio Generation, and Shirantha Beddage. Where are you planning to head Wednesday night?