BEVAN MANSON'S SEXTET
by Cathy Segal-Garcia
I guess you write about what turns you on. Bevan Manson’s sextet does it for me.
Sitting at The Blue Whale, right from the get-go, the musicians are reading great charts and blowing with everything they’ve got. I feel so lucky to be here, to have this place where they can do this and I can listen!
Bevan Manson on piano, John Crooks on bass, and Matt Gordy on drums…the trio is so solid – but not in a straight way – totally creative, playing with each other, rhythmically and harmonically. Every musician on this stage is incredible! The 3 horn players, each unique, extremely versatile players, great readers – never just play a lot of fast licks – but instead, communicate their ideas through each passage. Bill Reichenbach on bass trumpet and bass trombone, Brian Scanlon on Alto, clarinet and flute, and Glenn Morrissette on tenor. Glenn ...what a tone, what ideas! Brian’s great sound and chops, and Bill Reichenbach’s ideas are constantly fluid and connected.
Bevan is a genius – modest and fun – holding the music in a space by rhythms, motifs, space, and harmonic dancing. He eggs the band on, and is really a brilliant jazz pianist! He’s joyfully joined by John Crooks on bass and Matt Gordy on drums. When this genre of music is played this well, it reminds me of an interview I did with Peter Erskine, where he explained to me about his beginnings with Joe Zawinul and Weather Report…where what was desired was every instrument stretching in their own direction, with a common rhythmic pivot point. Like an abstract painting that works fabulously. Like the night I listened to Jeff Tain Watts and Kenny Kirkland and Dave Carpenter…when Kenny was on the backside of the rhythm and Jeff on the front, and Dave holding the whole thing together in the middle.
Wow, John Crooks bass-playing is so present, he’s consistent, and never boring. Intonation and tone is great. He’s listening and having a great time. Tied in to and totally supported by Matt Gordy.
I have so enjoyed listening to Matt Gordy as of late. Like a beautiful constant running train – keeping perfect time, creating as he travels, listening and generally being the bass on which everything stands on.
Bevan arranges standards, like “Someday My Prince Will Come”, “Giant Steps”, “Alone Together” and his own compositions – which are really wonderful pieces to listen to – having one foot sturdily in Classical and one in Jazz – the music is intelligent, musical, creative, structured and free – it has all the elements of great music. And did I mention that Bevan is funny? He’s a charming leader – as an audience, you are included in the experience – he’s not a stuffy guy, his communication to the audience is most approachable.
Bevan moved to L.A. from Boston, where he was teaching at the New England Conservatory.
He is a jazz pianist, an active classical composer, an arranger and producer for many jazz vocalists; a composer of over 100 jazz tunes and the scores for several independent films. An extremely nice person, Bevan really desires to put forth quality and quality music. And that’s what you get from experiencing Bevan’s music. It’s worth the trip, worth any effort to come out, worth the drive, worth the money spent. Because this quality changes your heart and your head. And we all need that from time to time, don’t we?
And the Whale is such a cool hang – the audience sits close to the musicians – close enough to hear the jokes! And the “stage” is on the same level as the audience; movable seating can bring you close enough to see the veins on the horn players’ hands, and definitely makes you feel like these guys are in your own living room. We are outrageously luck to have this venue, where we can come and listen to music this good; inexpensively, comfortably, and where these great musicians are happy and excited to come and play their very best…
The Blue Whale
123 Astronaut E S Onizuka Stree. Suite 301
Los Angeles, CA, 90012
Times: Mon - Sat: 8:00 pm - 2:00 am
Hard to find the first time, go to the north-east corner of Los Angeles Street and 2nd Street. The Kyoto Grand Hotel is on the corner…go east, and you will find Weller Court, a Japanese 3 story mini-mall (with great sushi and noodle restaurants, by the way!) Underground parking (free with validation)can be found by a round yellow “P” sign, just east of the hotel. If they’re full, park right across the street for $5. The Blue Whale is on the 3rd floor…Suite 301.