Concert Review: One For All live at The Blue Room in Kansas City

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by Monte, May 2, 2003.

  1. Monte


    Jan 9, 2001
    New Albany, MS
    Last Monday a couple of friends and I took the 5.5 hour trek north to Kansas City to see the jazz collective “One For All” play at the Blue Room, a club in the KC Jazz Museum. For those not familiar with them, One For All is a sextet made up of NYC jazzers who all have their own groups, but come together to record with the same group over the past decade. The musicians are Eric Alexander (tenor sax), Jim Rotundi (trumpet and flugelhorn), Steve Davis (trombone), David Hazeltine (piano), Peter Washington (bass), and Joe Farnsworth (drums). The group has remained the same, other than Ray Drummond filling in on one recording when Peter Washington couldn’t make it. In my opinion, One For All is the modern day Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, and is probably similar in sound to what Art’s band would sound like if he was still around today.

    Monday, the band was a quintet, minus Steve Davis, who had flown out to judge the Thelonius Monk Competition that night. The group admitted that they had suffered some bad nights on the tour, which was their first, but the Blue Room was packed with a great audience who listened and reacted, which really seemed to spur the group on. Besides tunes written by members of the band, Alexander mentioned that the group wanted to pay homage to the home of Charlie Parker. The crowd really got into that when they played a great slow blues on “Goin’ to Kansas City/ Parker’s Mood”. Later they followed it up with a smoking version of “Shaw ‘Nuff”, a Bb rhythm changes at an insane tempo. At this tempo Peter Washington showed why he is increasingly becoming the choice of everyone for a jazz bassist, keeping the band going after numerous choruses and the best example of a walking solo I’ve ever heard. As an encore, they also did another Parker blues whose name escapes me. Other highlights were a piano/ sax duo on “Embraceable You” that showed Eric Alexander’s maturity on ballads as well. Also, “Straight Up”, another burner of a tune that was over 300bpm, written by Rotundi, showed him to be a successor to Freddie Hubbard and Lee Morgan. “Mode for Mabes”, a modal Coltranesque tune written by Alexander for his mentor Harold Mabern, featured Hazeltine showing that he could play the ENTIRE history of jazz piano, and his comping on this was as spectacular as his solo. Standards played included “Who Can I Turn To”, “Ceora” (showing off Farnsworth’s latin chops), and “I’ll Close My Eyes”. The arrangements and the interaction between the players were far above the norm and what set this group apart from most bands thrown together for a tour. It would have been nice to have Steve Davis, especially for the horn riffs behind the solos, but that is the only way I could think the night could have been improved upon. One For All played for three solid hours and STILL left the audience wanting more.

    For the gearheads out there, Peter Washington played what looked to be a Hawkes Panormo strung with Helicore Pizzicato strings. For amplification he used a Gage Realist into a SWR California Blonde amp. The first tune was not enough volume, so they threw a mic in front of the amp, and it worked fine, Personally, I though he had a nice sound, but it wasn’t as deep as I was used to hearing from him. I’m not real sure I could have picked that sound as him if I had been blindfolded. I know he had been using Velvet Anima’s, but he might have taken them off to tour. I think they probably would have been a better match for his bass, which was thin sounding and not as loud (I was sitting right in front of the stage and didn’t hear much acoustic sound). Unfortunately, he was the only one I didn’t get a chance to talk with as he remained backstage eating the Gates BBQ someone brought for them. All the nitpicking aside, he sounded great and was one of the best bassists I’ve ever seen.

    If you get a chance, catch these guys live. Also, the CD on Criss Cross “Live at Smoke Vol. 1” is a good example of them. It was a blast.