“New Tricks” Review by Dr. Timothy M. Kalil, 7/15/09
Dr. Kalil is a local classical, blues, jazz, and gospel pianist, an arts administrator, a highly published author on American music, and a former piano faculty member at the University of Kansas.
“New Tricks” Jazz Ensemble from the New York City area featuring Ashtabula native Ted Chubb on trumpet (co-leader) performed to a capacity audience at St. Peter Episcopal Church in downtown Ashtabula on Tuesday, July 14, 2009 on a picture perfect mid-Summer evening.
The ensemble consisting of Chubb, Clevelander Mike Lee (tenor sax, soprano sax, co-leader), Californians Shawn Baltazor (drums), and Kellen Harrison (stand-up bass) who are all professional performing musicians explored a wide range of jazz styles and tunes most all written by either Chubb or Lee from straight-ahead jazz (“Shortstops/Ah-Lu-Cha”) to funk and blues (“Old Dog”) to soulful ballades (“1919”). Although these musicians are all soloists in their own right, in an ensemble setting “New Tricks” plays as if they are one instrument and concomitantly, their strong suit is their intuitive interaction and resultant tight sound. “New Tricks” is well on its way to becoming one of America’s premier jazz ensembles and hopefully will perform as a unit long enough to make an impact on the jazz world.
In regards to the concert proper, the audience was guided through the recital by Chubb and Lee’s anecdotal background information on each piece to be played. The varied musical fare offered this evening included “1919” and the audience especially empathized with the teary-eyed Chubb, as he announced that he wrote the very powerful dirge-like and soulful “1919” as a memorial piece to his late grandfather, Don Jacobus (1919-2008). The brush-technique used by drummer Baltazor on “1919” also added to the solemnity of the piece. Mike Lee had his moment on soprano sax with his renditions of “Josie’s Song” (dedicated to his mother-in-law and wife) and “Jackie’s Day” (daughter’s birthday song) where one was reminded of and transported to the playing of John Coltrane.
Of course the evening belonged to the hometown hero Ted Chubb as his technique was impeccable and virtuostic (“Shortstops” and “Ah-Lu-Cha”) and one here is reminded of trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie and Freddie Hubbard. Chubb is possibly the finest jazz trumpeter ever to come out of this County and has accomplished much in his 28 years and will surely accomplish more. He is currently touring with “Jersey Boys” and has performed at New York’s prestigious “Blue Note” club, Lincoln Center, and the Kennedy Center. He is also on the summer music jazz faculty at Montclair State University.
As the concert progressed, drummer Baltazor stole the show with his Gene Krupa technique and mannerisms in Charlie Parker’s “Ah-Lu-Cha.” To be sure, bassist Harrison provided harmonic direction and tasteful melodic lines (a la Ron Carter) to the ensemble and was always there for the group to bounce off of. This is especially important in an ensemble that does not have a chording instrument such as piano or guitar. These two players’ importance was seen when Chubb and Lee played alternate solos in “Old Dog,” as the soloists were able to know exactly where to enter.
The next gig for the group who are currently on tour is Cleveland’s “Nighttown”jazz venue on Thursday July 16. Contact information for the group and its CD called “New Tricks” is: www.tedchubb.com.
St. Peter’s Concert Series is now in its fifth year of existence and this concert was a fundraiser for the Series and its cooperative program with “After School Discovery/Celebrate for elementary school age students. FMI call the Church at 440-992-8100.