Thursday, July 31, 2008

Bass in BKLN

I actually made it out to Brooklyn last night, and no, I’m not waiting for applause. It was well worth making the trek to hear bassist Kevin Tkacz’s gig at Barbès. His first CD, It’s Not What You Think, is in various stages of pre-release, but having already heard it, I heartily recommend it.

I have heard Tkacz (pronounced tax, but skip the annoying I.R.S. related puns) play with Eri Yamamoto’s trio at Arthur’s Tavern. It’s a good example of the peculiar jazz way in which awareness of one cool musician often leads to another. Both on his upcoming CD and at Barbès, Tkacz’s intriguing music defies easy classification. While there is definitely an exploratory, free dimension, it is not at all abrasive. Rather than screaming at listeners, it sort of sidles up to you to say something clever.

The leader was joined by drummer Michael Sarin (also heard on What You Think), Angelica Sanchez on piano, and trumpeter Shane Endsley. Having played before, their easy-going camaraderie was audible, despite the steamy hot environment of the room. Let’s just say they worked hard for it last night (the ice in my drink actually melted). Tkacz’s compositions can be moody and dramatic, but also reflect his sense of humor. A great example last night was the soothingly melodic “Ambien(t) Lullaby.”

If you live in Fargo hearing quality live jazz could be problematic. However, if you live in the City and you’re not supporting live music, you have to get out more. There are great musicians playing every night at affordable venues like Barbès. You obviously have internet access, so have no excuse. Just go to the websites of clubs like Barbès, Arthurs, 55 Bar, and Cleopatra’s Needle, and then check out their scheduled musicians on myspace (90% of them will be there). When you hear one like, go see them, it’s as simple as that.

You could start by hearing Tkacz at Arthur’s over the next three nights, and if you are really polite, you’ll probably be able to buy an early copy of What You Think. (More details will go up here when it is on the market proper.) It’s a great CD and hopefully the start of a long discography as a leader.