(Disclaimer: Any opinion contained in this column is that of its author)
Hard though it is to believe, Monday evenings are perfect for live music. After completing the first day of a new week of work, I was excited to find myself sitting with Dean in the Recital Hall at Augusta University on April 24.
Our friends Travis Shaw of The Brownstown Gritty and Dr. Rob Foster of the SoulTown Horns were preparing for their free show when Dean and I arrived. It was our first time visiting the Hall for a night of entertainment, and I was excited.
Dubbed a “funky jazz chamber concert to end the spring semester,” the show brought the two bands together for a night of funk-infused jazz music performed by some of the most talented musicians in the area.
Wycliffe Gordon welcomed the sizable crowd that filled the hall and introduced the members of each of the bands.
The groups joined forces with a selection of songs that launched the room into the stratosphere. The first song, Painted Paradise by Jiro Inagaki, was a many-minutes-long jam. The horns hit all the right notes with each performer doing a solo.
Joined onstage by guitarist Kyle Bryant, the ensemble played one of Kyle’s original compositions, a song called Loves. The music flowed beautifully. Drummer Christian Thornton gave a stunning drum performance on this one, and many seated in the crowd around me tapped their toes and nodded with the music.
Third song on the set list was an original tune called Raccoon Canoe by the Brownstown Gritty. It was a grooving song that carried me back in my mind to the jazz clubs I’d frequented in 1990s Atlanta.
Breeze, another song by Inagaki, blew me away. No pun intended. I made a mental note to locate the original piece on YouTube when I got home. It is so good that I shared it out on my personal Facebook page.
Later, the ensemble performed a stellar version of Marvin Gaye’s classic What’s Going On. Mr. Gaye would have been so proud of how these talented musicians handled his song.
Toward the end of the evening, Wycliffe Gordon joined the band on trombone and tore the house down as they played one of his originals, The Smokestack Groove.
As the concert continued, I found myself lost in a sea of music, swimming in the depths of the bass, floating in the sounds of the brass. I didn’t come up for air until the last note faded into the ether.
From Japanese funk to jazz to classic R&B, the Brownstown Gritty and the SoulTown Horns know how to bring the heat and keep the beat.
The Brownstown Gritty consists of beat master Thornton on drums, the phenomenal TJ Barnes on keys, and groove master Travis Shaw on bass who is a former member of Ed Turner & Number 9. The SoulTown Horns featured musicians who also performed with Number 9 through the years. The trio includes Foster on saxophone and flute, Fabio Mann on trumpet, and Steve Pruitt on trombone.
Prior to the concert, Travis told me that this Recital Hall had the best acoustics of any place in Augusta. After sitting there taking in all the sounds for nearly two hours, I totally agree with him.
Augusta University has a calendar featuring many events that are open to the public. From jazz concerts to movies at the Maxwell Theatre, Augusta University offers cultural offerings throughout the school year. Check out the calendar here.
Columnist Francie Klopotic can be found about the town attending concerts, arts exhibitions and almost any event highlighting Augusta’s cultural offerings. Subscribe to the Augusta Good News newsletter here.