Given how many events were cancelled for tonight, I felt lucky to find that the RVA Jazzfest was on. With a focus on the Richmond jazz scene due to the snow-related absence of the two visiting artists, Ray Anderson and Adam Larrabee, our local musicians represented exceedingly well. The crowd was much smaller than usual when the music began around 9, but fortunately people continued to come in for the first hour.
It was too bad for some of the late arrivals, because missing any of Trio of Justice's set was a major loss. Reggie (Can't Stop/Won't Stop) Pace's latest project of low brass and percussion meant loud volume and heavy weights. Trombone, tuba and drums drove the grooves and captured the audience in the palm of their musical hands.
Talking to Reggie before the show, he assured me that he'll be doing the Thompson and Grace balcony series again this summer; it's still one of my favorite free summer events and a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon. And Reggie remains one of the most genuinely nice and most talented musicians in this town and that's saying a lot. And did I mention that his lemonade is legendary?
The second act was the indomitable Kuhl (JC) + Jones (Brian), practically the rva godfathers of jazz, despite their relatively young ages. Jones' drumming may be a blur to watch, but it's such an amazing thing to hear. There's no part of the sticks, mallets or drums themselves that he doesn't use and it's mesmerizing.
Headlining was Ombak, composer and trombonist Bryan Hooten's project, with their pastiche of musical influences and original compositions. Luckily if you missed tonight's show, they do a regular gig at Balliceaux.
Needless to say, the audience was full of local musicians, as eager to enjoy this array of talent as the non-musical of us in the audience. WCVE's Peter Solomon was there, taking in the show and offering me job advice. There also looked to be students from VCU's jazz studies program, worshipping at the feet of their jazz elders, so to speak.
It was my third year for the Jazzfest, yet another example of the stellar and low-cost entertainment that goes on in rva all the time. If you weren't willing to brave the elements to check it out tonight, I won't judge you, but it's not that hard to find these musicians playing around town on a regular basis and often at the Camel.
You won't be disappointed and you'll likely be hugely impressed, I can assure you.