Brian Settles Quartet Plays the Music of Dewey Redman
Rest assured if native DC, tenor saxophonist Brian Settles is performing it will be a good show. I couldn’t miss this opportunity to hear his Quartet perform the music of Dewey Redman and play for free down at the Smithsonian American Art Gallery’s Take 5 monthly performance, which took place this past Thursday.
Settles has performed with with numerous luminaries: Curtis Fuller, Gil Scott-Heron, Shirley Horn, Stanley Turrentine, just to name a few. Despite his prominence, thankfully, he still performs in DC regularly and is an important fixture of the scene. His 2011 recording “Secret Handshake” is impressive in it’s depth and explorations and is one of my favorite recent jazz records.
It was a beautiful fall night and I escaped the rush-hour chaos into the museums vast and beautifully maintained courtyard. The Quartet had already began their first tune by the time I got there. In front of the centrally located stage, numerous chairs were set up filled with waylaid commuters, a smattering of tourists, jazz aficionados, and even other DC jazz stars like pianist Harry Appelman, saxophonists Brad Linde and Sarah Hughes. People even brought their children, which is always nice to see.
The repertoire was music composed by the great and often under appreciated Dewey Redman. Redman is probably most famous for playing with Ornette Coleman. Their compositions sometimes share similar twists and turns, but certainly Redman’s retain a unique quality of their own.
The Quartet was made up of Brain Settles on tenor saxophone, Steve Synk on bass (whom replaced the expected Taurus Marteen), mainstay drummer Terence Arnett and the great Thad Wilson on trumpet. Wilson is also a prominent and important player in the scene having led his own Big Band and plays regularly around the city in numerous settings and configurations.
All I can say is the group was tight, and I mean really tight. The tunes were well picked, mid-tempo or speedy modal bop with flourishes of dissonance. The space had an amazing echo that made it sound magical. Thad Wilson didn’t even use a microphone and his decisive clear tones filled the air naturally. Between heads and solos, Brian would conduct the band with forceful direction adding to the excitement.
Some of the highlights of the two sets was “Joie de Vivre”, a moving ballad that featured a muted trumpet solo by Wilson. And the Steve Synk bass solo on “Imani”, where he played with melodic yet punchy precision that interplayed nicely with drummer Arnett’s textural mallett playing. “Imani” then blended into “Boody” which I think was the best piece of the night. It started with a jump kind of rhythm with sudden stops that transitioned into a brooding blues that gave each player room to build conversational solos.
Overall, it was a terrific night of jazz with some of the cities finest players. I hope the night was recorded because it would make a great record!
Short URL: http://bit.ly/S8Ns5J