On a night when the Woman’s Club was in the middle of a featured art exhibition of paintings by artist Irina Collister, our JSJBF member band, TriCity Jazz, performed for an attentive audience. Art and jazz are a good pairing and both were much appreciated by those in attendance. Drawing from some of the greatest jazz composers, the band was more than up to the task. Longtime member Chris Andreach, who plays both the alto and curved soprano sax, had the nucleus of his band with him this night including young keyboard player Ian Howells who plays more like a veteran, and drummer Tom Hyland who has been with many incarnations of the band. The “new kid” in the band was guitarist Steve Bryant and that was an interesting story in itself. It seems that both Steve and Chris were wrestling opponents in high school but lost touch for nearly half a century but were reunited on this night in the band. Steve had just recently joined the JSJBF with his own band, Red 123, so this was the first time we had heard him. A teacher by profession, he spent six years in the service playing with the US Navy band.
This combination of players was the winning formula for some great jazz interpretations like “Comin’ Home Baby” and one of the audience favorites, Benny Golson’s “Killer Joe.” Having heard Chris and Ian before, I was fully aware of their fantastic ability to solo within the song’s structure and being innovative while staying in the pocket. Steve, however was a revelation on guitar, his long fingers allowing him to create runs on the fret board which were pleasing to the ear and I doubt many players could duplicate. The band seemed to feed off of each other with everyone stepping up their solos which allowed them only enough time to play six of the eleven songs scheduled for the opening set. The audience didn’t seem to mind, applauding their virtuosity at every turn. The second set opened with “Softly as In a Morning Sunrise,” a song which comes from the 1928 operetta “The New Moon.” The Andy Summers’ arrangement of “Afro Blue,” again let the band stretch out and show their individual musical prowess. A beautiful rendition “Summertime,” while at once familiar to those in the seats, was unique in its presentation. The final song of the set “All Blues” by the great Miles Davis confirmed what we knew from the first number, TriCity Jazz with Steve Bryant are one of the finest interpreters of this music on the Jersey Shore.