Madison Jazz Orchestra – The Brink – 04/23/2015

I’ve not seen too much live jazz, with a notable exception being Marquis Hill, whom I saw both in Chicago and here in Madison.

Since I started my new job in January however, jazz has been a more up front topic. One of my teammates plays sax in a couple of jazz bands around town. We’ve had some conversations about jazz groups and our favorites. He has heard of John Zorn (surprisingly) and Marquis Hill and recommended Cannonball Adderley (love it) to me. Several times Luke has mentioned gigs that he is playing and invited us here in the office to check it out.

I finally was able to get to one with Cindy.

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The Madison Jazz Orchestra played at The Brink, as they do apparently for the last 5 years, every 4th Thursday of the month. They played in the area just inside the lounge area at the bottom of the stairs.

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We arrived shortly after the first set had started, and entered to some great sounds. Luke was down front on the far right playing his sax. There were drums, standup bass, piano, guitar, trumpets, trombones, tuba and of course saxophones. This is the largest group I have seen play since I was attending Max’s high school jazz band performances. It was a cool sound, everyone working together and sounding full and lush, as opposed to what I was used to with Marquis Hill. There was a very simple but effective sound system and the crowd was at tables right in front of the band. I got the sense that a good portion of the crowd were regulars at these gigs. Jazz lovers. There was a very friendly and light atmosphere and the music was good combo music, meaning that they were songs that the whole band played, with some solos, but the feel was ensemble.

Most every songs had a spoken introduction with some history, or reason for its inclusion in the show, it was cool.

Luke was there blowing away on the sax, of course where we decided to sit was not great for pictures, but I did get some. Sorry some were a bit blurry.

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Then moved to the side of the stage to get some shots.

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One thing that struck me this night, as it did when I saw Elvis Costello at Summerfest years ago, is that the trombone, when played well, can be an awesome instrument. I for the life of me have no idea how one learns to play it since there are no frets, no valves and no keys… you just have to know where to stop the slide? Seems incomprehensible to me. I was fascinated by them at the show.

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During the second set Luke played a sax as big as a small child!

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Any bigger and he would need a stand for it or face a lifetime of back problems. A sling for it at least. After the show I looked up saxophones and their sizes. They do get bigger. Wow.

The band featured lots of different member solos, and there were different tempos and styles of tunes played. It was a great mix of music. The show was well worth coming out for.

If you are in the area on the 4th Thursday of the month, definitely stop in and check it out.

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You will not regret it.

Nice job Luke, oh, and the rest of the guys too.

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