TanaReid at Silo Brew Pub

By Todd Hildreth

Louisville Jazz Society members were treated to new surroundings and a wonderful concert at Silo Brew Pub on Monday, February 8. TanaReid's concert at Luckett's last year was, in my opinion, the highlight of the year as far as the local jazz scene went and they delivered once again with the intensity and masterful musicianship that makes them one of the best groups in the jazz world.

One of the things I like about TanaReid is that they are a jazz band. Everyone gets their space as soloist, but the ensemble sound is what keeps the listener's attention. They are very well rehearsed and each tune was arranged tastefully and intelligently. Their varying ensemble textures and dynamic contrasts produced music that was a welcome relief to the typical grind that plagues so many jazz arrangements: play the head/ play the solos / trade fours / play the head/ end the tune. This sort of thing was avoided successfully by the creative thought that was put into each arrangement. Dizzy Gillespie's "Con Alma" is a perfect example; the head is played on the bass with two saxes providing melodic accompaniment, between the head and the solos the band bursts into a spacey Latin modal groove, the sax solos are over a Latin rhythm and its swings under the piano solo, they return to the head, (arranged as before), for a beautiful rubato ending. Every turn played that evening was arranged in a similarly tasteful manner.

TanaReid is led by bassist Rufus Reid and drummer Akira Tana, possibly the hottest bass-drum combination in contemporary bebop. Together they lay down a wall of sound that spells "groove or die" to the other musicians. Rufus has been keeping the jazz tradition alive since long before the young African-American coat-and-tie crowd made keeping the tradition cool. No bass player that I know of can touch his sound and very few can achieve his swing. Akira Tana, when he's not keeping things sizzling underneath, plays some of the best drum solos I've ever heard. While most drum solos offer me an excellent opportunity to hit the rest room or go to the bar without missing anything substantial, Tana kept me fixed at my seat. Pianist Roll Schniederman, while not a fiery player in a technical sense, can work a groove like few pianists can. On the piano trio feature of the evening, "Cheek to Cheek," he held his own to any of the great trio pianists with swing, finesse and a wonderfully light touch. Of all his musical assets, I'd say his greatest is taste. Saxophonists Craig Bailey and Dan Faulk seemed, in comparison to their older counterparts, to still be more or less in the imitative mode, but both musicians were more than capable of holding their own with the formidable TanaReid rhythm section. Bailey's alto playing invoked both Johnny Hodges and Junior Cooke. Both of these guys were remarkably mature for their age.

The Silo Brew Pub is better than Luckett's for these Jazz Society concerts in some ways and worse in others. On one hand the visibility is a vast improvement. While some seats will always be better than others, no one had to suffer through the show with a pole in their face. The problem, however, is sound. The room that held the show at SBP was huge and the sound bounced everywhere. The existence of two sound men helped, but jazz listeners want every nuance and that was sometimes hard to hear. Possibly some parachutes hung from the ceiling would cut down on room noise; it's at least worth a try.

It is hoped that TanaReid will be back next year and the year after that and the year after that. Simply put, this is one of the greatest groups that the Jazz Society has brought in for us. Let's keep them coming back.