Monday, August 27, 2012

Rogue Party for the Few

It was practically a private show.

Walking into Balliceaux last night, we were among a very small group in the back room for music.

Too bad, too, because Bryan Hooten was doing some amazing things on trombone as we scored wine and slid into a front booth.

Listening to what sounded like multiple notes being played at the same time, we marveled at the un-trombone-like sounds emanating from his instrument.

"Those were two new as-yet unnamed tunes," he explained. "Now I'll improvise one and dedicate to Patrick, who I met at a workshop in Canada. It was sort of a rogue party and there was a lot of whiskey drinking, so I'll call this one 'Rogue Party."

The music came on like a party, eventually winding down to the point where it was easy to imagine that only a few party guests were still standing...and then none as the song closed with a whimper.

Pouring out the contents of his horn, he got a laugh when he said, "Don't worry, it's just condensed water."

"Mirrors," from his solo trombone album, came next and this music-lover was thrilled when he explained what to listen for beforehand.

"I'll be doing some things with the shape of  his mouth to create different sounds," he said. "So if you imagine this tune is a painting, look for the stuff near the top."

Honestly, I heard amazing stuff coming from the top, middle and bottom of that aural painting.

Next up was his workshop buddy Patrick, part of the band Sons of Daughters, who'd driven down from a show in Baltimore today for this show.

A duo tonight, Patrick was playing sax and clarinet and Devin drums and their bass player was missing in action.

"Our bass player couldn't join us for this little four-day retreat," Patrick explained.

Which was a shame in one way because he also provides vocals, but a treat because without him, they eschewed compositions for a whole lot of improvisation.

And they looked like they were having a ball doing it.

Barefoot Patrick closed his eyes and played his instrument waving it side to side, walking back and forth on the stage, sometimes even hanging his toes off the edge and once almost falling off.

Devin, in flip-flops, all but impaled himself on his drum kit, laying across it and even playing cymbals with his forearms.

Toward the end, he was going at it so hard that his drum all but danced further in between his legs and into his lap.

"Is It In You?" got the small audience riled up and "Jay's Tune" was based on music that got stuck in Devin's head.

"If you're enjoying any of this and want to take two thirds of us home with you, we have CDs for sale," they joked in conclusion.

No doubt everyone else in the room had far more musical knowledge than I did, because they called out at what I could only assume were impressive musical feats.

But this much I do know: it would have been hard to beat an evening of progressive jazz by some up and coming young guns, giving their all for a small group of strangers.

When they finished, a woman in the audience came up and asked Patrick, "How do you hold your breath for so long?"

I didn't hear the answer, but my guess would be years of practice.

We did ask about the band's name, clearly a reference to Everyman, since everyone is either a son of a daughter or a daughter of a son.

"Yea, my Mom seems to like it," he admitted with a grin.

Maybe even as much as every person in that room liked our intimate and excellent show.

Sometimes you just have to go out on a Sunday evening and take a chance.

That's when you find out that it is in you.

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