Palm Sunday afternoon at the Jazz Bakery was filled with fitting music as Justo Almario - Saxophonist, Clarinetist, and Flutist led the way with his joyous ensemble.
Many songs performed were from the group's latest project, "Open Hands" that explores a variety of South American rhythms, Straight Ahead Jazz and the Blues in an authentic and sacred fashion.
Justo Almario - Woodwinds
Abraham Laboriel - Bass
Greg Mathieson -Piano
Bill Maxwell - Drums
The set got started with a very engaging piece, "Drum Along With Bill". Please pardon me, Mitch Miller but this wasn't a social hour of music, more like a glorious entry into a set of music that was filled with rhythms, accents and chord progressions causing one want to shout for joy.
Bill was infectious in his approach presented with candid humility, honestly, deliberate drive and beauty. One's eyes are tied to his technique and connection with the rest of the ensemble.
"Parthia" a tune with an introduction, passages, intervals, and a finale that warmed your soul, set your heart ablaze with linking your spirit with the ensemble. Justo's untiring style could convince even the most conservative agnostic. I doubt any were present in the ardent audience. He can be found often quoting from his on creative works. As he his careening through changes on a piece he'll just throw in a few bars of "Billy Eckstine's, "I want to talk about you" in the tradition of the incredible Saxophonist - John William Coltrane.
Justo is a man after Jazz disciple's heart.
Abraham Laboriel brings sheer passion to each piece is nothing less than marvelous. His essence is more than enchanting...it is a mixture of unadulterated exhilaration and peace. His solos were filled with a bit of everything causing a colorful bouquet.
Abraham sends his message through each chord played on the bass with love.
Greg on Piano was exquisite and sensitive on solos and accompaniment adding a richness all his own. It felt as if one were embraced in a Waltz with him immersed in all 88 keys of the Piano, in sync with the moment of music.
"Prayer for Congo" a very stunning piece which included audience participation. It was a sacred and hallowed immersion indeed. The ensemble showered us with the Swahili blessing, "May God be with you...All the time" and we responded with the same phrase for them.
Call & Response well suited for a Sunday afternoon was mixed in this spiritual piece and dance grooves as well as we intermitted shouted "May God be with you" in Swahili.
What a wonderful and satisfying experience and a true journey in Live Jazz at its supreme.
For other excursions...check the calendar for the Jazz Bakery, located in Los Angeles, CA. at 3233 Helms Ave. between Washington and Venice Blvd. (323) 271-9039