The Frosty afternoon of Sunday, December 6, 2009, brought the spirit of the holiday season to a monthly Jazz venue in the hills of Hollywood, CA. "Jazz at the A Frame"
The Bill Cunliffe Trio performed an array of original compositions interwoven with a few well known Jazz Standards and Straight Ahead Jazz. Bill Cunliffe is a musician that is a remarkable Pianist but this afternoon he was sharing with us on an Organ.
Jim Hershman is a very sensitive Guitarist out of the New York area. The versatile Drummer Jeff Hamilton completed the trio and was on hand to keep everything "in the pocket" as is often said in regards to Drummers. Jeff however is a glorious soloist sending out a soulful message every time he plays.
Bill's shared stories before each piece only enhanced the essence of the tune. The lyric, melody, and harmony were conveyed splendidly by each musician individually and collectively as a trio. Bill's stories were endearing regarding his transition from working with big bands in the business to his decision to cast his creative net out and form his own group. The fruit of that decision rang out in an astoundingly superb fashion as they performed for an eager audience.
Mr. Cunliffe connects with the music, audience, and ensemble in an enchanting manner by usage of his candid sharing, warm eye contact, and deliberate drive of passion no matter what the tune. This is partially was the LIVE music experience should convey. The Jazz devotees affirmed each piece with smiles and knowing nods when our eyes met with those of the each musician in the trio.
Jeff's remarkable augmentation on Drums with every tune left all Jazz aficionados and aficionadas exultant at the gift he presented to the audience.
Jim has ardent musicality and performs on Guitar with an affecting manner giving soul to each measure of his solos and accompaniment.
All of this combined with the bluesy stride of Bill's Organ produced a creation of magnetism.
Although a Bass instrument is almost always featured on the jazz scene, it wasn't missed on this afternoon as the talented trio began to play.
The evening unfolded with a ballad composed originally by Jimmy Van Heusen "Like Someone in love".
The splendidly romantic song was once performed by Eric Dolphy who made it a hopelessly magical experience on Flute.
The trio created their own love story that was reeling with adoration. The audience swayed with approval.
There was lots of intimate brushwork by Jeff Hamilton interlocked in a wonderful groove with Jim Hershman. The joyous mood reflected was that "like someone in love".
"Sweet Andy" an original composition by Mr. Cunliffe was dedicated to a colleague of Bill's.
Jazz modes were performed that spoke volumes regarding Bill's friend and in respect to unsullied Jazz.
A memorable piece was composed by Bill after his decision to form his own trio. "Time to say Goodbye" is a vibrant piece of work with a waltz - feel that expressed all of emotions of anticipation, adventure, richness, curiosity, splendor and liberation with imperative career transitions.
Jim's guitar execution accented the joy of autonomy with a very cool cadenza at the end of this piece.
A fast tempo piece "Don's Kitchen" composed by Jim kept the audience engaged with a drum solo that was soulfully tasteful adding to the music meal cooking nicely in correlation with the other musicians.
There were many trades of 4 bars of music each (simply referred to as "trading 4's) between Jim and Bill on the swinging tune.
"I-75 Bossa Nova" was a groove composed by Mr. Cunliffe. This song was a tribute to an interstate highway. It proved to hint at a bit of the forbidden in its harmony and melody or maybe it was just a devout love for a highway crossed on thousands of occasions in the beginning of Bill's Jazz Journey career.
The guys played what felt like double-time in different sections of this tune.
Cedar Walton's wonderful tune "Bolivia" a Jazz lovers' favorite, can only be described in one phrase... REALLY FUNKY!
I mean this one was downright blues-filled funky, taking you right to the zenith level of spirit and soul of Jazz. I think most of the audience agreed as shouts of approval were given to the trio.
I believe the musicians called upon the essence, groove, swing and shout of the forefathers Drummer -Art Blakely and other greats.
One could have easily stepped up to dance on the Bill Cunliffe's trio rendition of "Bolivia".
"Partners in Crime" an original composition had a Blues March feel for around 5 minutes before going into something else that was just as pleasing.
Kenny Burrell's "Bass Face" and Matt Dennis' "Everything happens to me" were wonderfully presented.
"Blues for Stephanie" composed by the exceptional Bassist John Clayton had a beautiful feel that the audience and musicians basked in on a cool December afternoon.
Once again interaction between the musicians was soul connected. The same amalgamation was experienced by a joyous audience.
An afternoon of exquisite Jazz pleasure!
Jazz fans and Music lovers of all styles be sure and check out upcoming events at "Jazz at the A frame" held monthly in the Los Angeles, CA. area.