Monday, February 28, 2005

Same Soul, Different Station

I'm a bit under the weather again today, or at least worn out from the non-weekend, but I had to chime in about a great concert I saw last night: Tenorman and UNT prof John Murphy (my former schoolmate and lab band director, as well as the proprietor of a fine new blog) was joined by faculty colleagues Stefan Karlsson (piano), Lynn Seaton (bass) and Ed Soph (drums) in a re-creation of Hank Mobley's classic Blue Note album Soul Station. The concert, held at First United Methodist Church in downtown Denton, featured the quartet, in the same instrumentation as the album, playing the tunes in their exact order and in the style of the original players (Mobley, Wynton Kelly on piano, Paul Chambers on bass and Art Blakey on drums). The solos, of course, were original, but still paid tribute to the masters.

Even though Mobley was often overshadowed by his titanic contemporaries such as Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane, Murphy stated in the program notes for the concert that he always appreciated the lyricism in Mobley's playing, as well as the fact that "[h]e also plays slowly enough for me to hear what he's doing. Many jazz players play awesome lines, but they go by so fast that I dn't have time to savor them." This lyricism shined through in Murphy's playing last night. I also enjoyed Karlsson's great lines and swirling climaxes, Seaton's amazing arco solo on "Split Feelin's" and Soph's tastiness mixed with explosiveness. Even though the album only contained six tunes, Murphy wrote his own encore, a blues entitled "Hank Heaven" that alternated between the keys of B-flat and E--quite a challenge for the soloists, but these guys were more than up to it.

All in all, it was a great evening, and the recreate-an-entire-album format was an enjoyable approach to the repertory; I hope more of this is in store for future years. In the meantime, Murphy has a busy week, as his Jazz Repertory Ensemble presents a special rendition of "Rhapsody in Blue" with faculty pianist Steve Harlos; it will be performed both tomorrow in Denton and Wednesday in Dallas.

Just don't take it to school: An online company has come up with a rubber band machine gun. Also, I wonder what PETA would say about their pig catapult (scroll down a bit to see).
(via Dave Barry's blog)

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