LA Beat: Thom Rotella Group at Crowne Plaza LAX
Glenn A. Mitchell, LA Jazz Scene
Tuesday, 04 June 2013
Exceptional guitarist and composer Thom Rotella brought his amazing quintet to Crowne Plaza LAX Jazz Club May 9, 2013. Rotella has been one of the supreme guitarists in jazz music for many years. His quintet includes world class players Andy Langham (piano), Joe Bagg (keys), Trey Henry (bass), and Roy McCurdy (drums). All have various top musical credits over many years.
The band began with a bluesy composition by Rotella, "Who Dat," kicking off the show to a high level early on. Rotella's showmanship shines in every tune he performs. Solos began with Rotella, Langham and Bagg. Another blues followed, "Blues For You'se," from Rotella's newest CD, Out of the Blues. Great solos again from Bagg on his Nord C-1 keyboard, Langham, and then Henry doing some amazing work on his beautiful upright bass, including playing chords in higher bass register and runs.
Rotella's inspirations include Wes Montgomery, George Benson and Andre Segovia. He next played groovy Montgomery number, the famous "Four By Six." The band settled in to play their best. Both Bagg and Langham backed each other's solos, trading choruses, delighting the audience. A stand-out tune twas a delicious version of "All Blues." Even though the instrumentation was different from the original piece, the playing still related the best sounds from this classic jazz gem. McCurdy played some remarkable rhythmic patterns opposite Henry's great bass lines and during both of their solos.
Set two started with the Stanley Turrentine classic, "Sugar," filled with great solos. An audience favorite, "Besame Mucho" had a stellar arrangement by Rotella. McCurdy gave a long interesting drum solo with varied rhythms infused along the way. "Hackensack" was a jazzy number that Thelonious Monk fans love. The group played it very well, and McCurdy's rousing solo concluded the number. Closing the second set was "Sand Piper," a pretty serene ballad by Rotella, setting the mood in a romantic, peaceful scenario.
Reprinted with permission from L.A. Jazz Scene, June 2013 issue