Filed Under:  Entertainment

What a combination: A bridge, a cafe and a Queen…

17th January 2012   ·   0 Comments

By Geraldine Wyckoff
Contributing Writer

Though drummer Joe Dyson, pianist Conun Pappas and bassist Max Moran are still all in their early 20s, the buzz about these talented jazz musicians and their collective group, The Bridge Trio, has been in the air for years. The New Orleans natives and New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts graduates, who’ve gone on to earn degrees from several of this country’s finest music institutions, have reached another milestone in their bright careers.

On Saturday, January 21, 2012, the group celebrates the release of its self-titled, debut CD. It’s fitting that the occasion will marked at Snug Harbor, a spot where The Bridge Trio first caught the attention of local jazz fans. The three artists also performed many times at the Frenchmen Street club with saxophone great Donald Harrison who recruited the trio as his regular rhythm section. He also utilized them for his albums Quantum Leap and The Chosen.

THE BRIDGE TRIO

The quality of the musicianship heard on The Bridge Trio won’t surprise those who’ve been following Dyson, Pappas and Moran. Nonetheless, the swagger, staggered rhythm and explosiveness of the opening cut, “125th and Broadway,” written by Pappas, who graduated from New York’s The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, stuns. It actually stands as a suite moving from the edginess and speed of the first section to a more mellow mode and then back again. Pappas’ rhythmic, two-handed style is superbly complimented by Dyson’s intricate approach on the drums. This is acoustic, post-bop jazz with punch.

Each musician contributed material to the project that includes only two non-originals out of a hefty 13 cuts. One might expect that as a drummer, Dyson’s pen might tend toward up-tempo tunes. Dyson, however, displays his deep understanding of melody on his contribution, “Make Some Noise.” The melodic line is so strong that it soon becomes familiar. It’s memorable enough that you could find yourself humming along after several listens.

After the quiet, calming start of “Make Some Noise,” drama and passion build in unexpected increments that, somehow, is reminiscent of a symphony. Even when Dyson is at his most intense there’s a lightness in his attack.

Moran, a cousin of nationally renowned pianist Jason Moran, provides solid and highly involved support throughout the album. He picks up his electric bass on his beautiful composition, “So You’re Leaving Me,” that offers him a chance to shine on a solo. More modern electronic music and tempos change the pace on Moran’s tune, “Untitled,” that finds Pappas moving to a Fender Rhodes.

The guests on the album, vocalist Davell Crawford and saxophonist Donald Harrison, share close ties with the group and thus fit right in as well as adding diversity to the disc. Crawford, who is Dyson’s cousin, brings his great interpretive style to the standard “Body and Soul.” It’s offered with a bit of a kick and plenty of soulful scatting. Harrison, as mentioned, has utilized and mentored these musicians for years. On the saxophonist’s composition, “Burn-in’,” one can appreciate the trio’s skill in a back-up position as they compliment Harrison’s demanding and ever-flowing lines.

That these guys are young, that this is The Bridge Trio’s first release could be focal points in considering the merit of this work. In this case, they are not. Dyson, Pappas and Moran — The Bridge Trio — are accomplished musicians playing and writing exciting jazz. The album, The Bridge Trio, satisfies on those absolute essentials of jazz music.

Cafe Istanbul – Old Name, New Spot

In August 2011, a second line headed down North Rampart Street, onward to St. Claude Avenue to celebrate the much anticipated opening of the multi-functional New Orleans Healing Center. This Saturday, January 21, 2012, marks the official grand opening of Cafe Istanbul, a club located inside the center. Owners Suleyman Adyin, who operated the original Cafe Istanbul on Frenchmen Street, and Chuck Perkins, a popular jazz poet, are doing it in style with the New Orleans renowned guitarist/vocalist/bandleader Deacon John performing. Now that’s a party.

He’ll be kicking his signature jump blues, rhythm and blues and New Orleans classics at two shows, 9:30 p.m. to 11 and 11:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. Admission is $15 and parking is available at the rear of the building.

Aretha Returns to Essence Festival

ARETHA FRANKLIN

Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul returns to the Essence Music Festival (July 6-8, 2012) for her third appearance at the Party with a Purpose. When the first Essence Fest was held in the Superdome in 1995, which was initially meant to be a one-time event to celebrate Essence Magazine’s 25th anniversary, the legendary vocalist knocked the crowd out with a string of hits and even sat down at the piano. Franklin was back with more of the same in 2005, belting out the songs that have made her one of the best-loved and most-respected singers of all-time.

The legend’s live appearances have long been rare and health issues forced her to cancel scheduled performances at both the 2009 and 2010 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festivals. Of late, things are reportedly much improved for the Soul Queen. She’s regained her health, lost some weight and recently became engaged to her long-time friend Willie Wilkerson.

This year’s line-up also includes returnees such as the great Mary J. Blige, Fantasia, Charlie Wilson and many more. On the local front, New Orleans-born Ledisi, whose star continues to rise, hits the big stage and artists including the Stooges Brass Band and saxophonist Khris Royal & Dark Matter head to the intimate superlounges.

This article was originally published in the January 16, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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