Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Dred Scott Trio at the Blue Note

The Dred Scott Trio gave us two astounding sets of music last night at the Blue Note in NYC. I'm very proud to say I've been a fan of Dred's for 20 years and I have always thought of his music as "beyond jazz." He can take any form of music and make it into something uniquely his own. His playing has a physicality about it that results in fingers and keyboard making sounds and patterns of notes you never would expect possible. For me, his music has always been extremely visual. In the early days, I used to take a sketch book along and draw to the music, trying to capture in line and shape the unexpected connections, tones, rhythms and patterns I always "saw" when listening to his music.

When I first met up with Dred, he was part of a trio in Akron known as Third Plane (Dred Scott - keyboards, Wilbur Krebs - bass/guitar, and JoJo Brigandi on drums). They played in a little art bar on South Main called The Bauhaus. Every Wednesday night for a year or so they played original jazz experimenting with avant garde sounds, and also transformed themselves into alternative bands, playing with punk or heavy metal forms. They were such a brilliant thing to have growing there on the dark abandoned streets of downtown Akron at that time. But you know how it goes -- an urban spot is blighted and abandoned, so the only ones who can afford to live there are artists and other dregs of society. The artists succeed in drawing attention to the area, so the developers follow and pretty soon it becomes too pricey for the artists and they all move along.

In the case of Third Plane, they simply outgrew NE Ohio. They were ready for bigger ponds, and so moved out to San Francisco and eventually went their separate ways. Dred played with the San Francisco Mime Troupe, was in Alphabet Soup, a really cool jazz hip hop group, and then moved on to NYC. He pretty much plays all over the world these days. His current trio (Dred - piano, Ben Rubin - acoustic bass, and Tony Mason - drums) can be seen in the clip below. Live last night, they were in top form, playing everything from Dred originals to Black Sabbath and modern spins on California 50s jazz. Guest artist MC Extra Cheese joined in for a couple of raps in both sets.

The Blue Note is a big deal jazz club -- they take it seriously at that club. There are rules: no jackets or coats can hang on the backs of chairs. The lights dim and the announcer lets us know that talking is not appreciated during the music. You can sit at a table for ten bucks or stand at the bar for five. Plus food/drink minimums and tips -- big night out for a Monday. (The weekend acts get $20 for bar tickets and $30 for table seats.)

The audience is serious about listening to jazz, and the place was packed with a very receptive audience. Dred always stretches the limits to places you never expect to be going -- I don't know that the Blue Note had ever experienced anything quite like it. A show to remember!

2 comments:

Dave P. said...

I've never heard of them, I'll check them out.

Is there an underground or avant-garde jazz scene in Akron or Cleveland? I've asked around and can't find anything. It's one of the very few things I miss about Cincinnati, which has a good jazz scene of all types.

Village Green said...

HI Dave,

There have been several waves of incredible music in Akron. The Bauhaus era (late 80s-early 90s) is the one I experieced. The Bauhaus was "the" place to find just about any kind of music. On Mondays, a Ramones cover band from Cleveland showed up regularly. They were a trio consisting of a sewer worker, a construction worker and a cop -- all former high school buddies. Third Plane was on Wednesdays, and the weekend brought everything from punk to goth to every kind of rock imaginable. Intermixed were poetry nights, performance art events and always local art on the walls.

I wish there were something like it nowadays, but everything seems so niche oriented -- we are all put in our compartments and go to our separate bars. No longer shall the various art forms mix and mingle.

I don't know of any jazz clubs now -- there was one in the Falls for awhile.

I was out of town the night your new band premiered. Hope to get out and see you at your next gig. Keep us posted.