Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Top Cats

Phil Woods was in town this past weekend. He then did a benefit concert to raise funds for reopening the Jazz Showcase last night (where he reportedly called out Tribune critic Howard Reich, and his latest review, publicly at the start of the set - receiving great audience applause in response to this rebuke.) While I wasn't there to witness it, I did catch his concert Friday night at the DePaul School of Music.


When you gather a group of top cats, the results can be vibrant. This was certainly the case at the Friday performance. Though this was a mere single hour long set (and I didn't get there till sometime in) it was most satisfying. Woods' name, of course, should speak for itself. To hear an artist of this quality for free is a special privilege. He was joined by Bob Lark, flugelhorn; Ron Perrillo, piano, Kelly Sill, bass, and Bob Rummage, drums.

Perrillo is one of the most thoughtful artists on the Chicago scene, and deserves to be heard in his own right. Seeing his name on the bill of offerings, alone, always lets you know that it will be worth the price of admission. His soloing and accompanying decoration of others in the band was just brilliant at this performance, wonderful to the ear.

Rummage... now here's a cat who can swing! He frequently set the band into a great groove; finding the right rhythms and leaving the necessary space for music to take flight as it should. This is a drummer who knows how to use the entirely of his tools for effective band work and interesting percussion which is rich and musical beyond the kind of comping too often offered by lesser talents.

He went at it on the last number ("How High The Moon"), especially, in a pairing with Perrillo. The two of them playing together remarkable; making it almost hard to tell whose solo it really was, so on the spot were they both. Woods then called to him to go at it alone with his sax work for another treat. The boppish direction which the tune took on as it progressed made for a flourishing finish and great send off to the night.

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