Monday Night Jazz
AN EAGER AUDIENCE filled the Simons Center Recital Hall Monday night to hear the Duda Lucena Quartet. This was not the generally staid crowd that comes for classical music (although some of us were there). No, these folks were tapping their feet, swinging their shoulders, uttering regular joys of pleasure. “Yeah…”
And for several good reasons.
The attraction, as billed, was Quentin Baxter: local Jazz percussionist of regional fame. He certainly delivered as promised with his distinctive style of rhythmic variety, not to mention his user-friendly emceeing skills. But most of the night (not counting a few wonderful solos, of course) he purposely took a back seat to lead singer Duda Lucena, the namesake of this group.
Duda is a naturally smooth vocalist. His tone has a silky texture, his delivery could not be more facile, and—being Brazilian—he oozes with the sensuality that so suits this brand of Jazz. But what really makes it work is that he is a nice human being. Pure at the core. Loves the music. Just loves the music.
As do the other members of this quartet.
I had heard pianist Gerald Gregory before, but it was even better getting familiar with his range of styles and interpretations, both of which he manages in his signature understated way. Bass player Kevin Hamilton, however, was new to me, and what a nice surprise.
Kevin’s smile can charm an entire room (in this case about 300) to the point that you easily underestimate him—at first appearance. But once he gets the floor with a solo, then you realize. He loves the music, too. In one of his first solos of the evening, he played his bass like a drummer. Not by tapping on the sound board, but with the strings. Impressive. After that, I listened more carefully to the other things he was doing.
All the while, though, Quentin Baxter was the one having—or at least showing that he was having—the most fun. He’s pleasant to watch partly because he harmonizes so damn well, but also because he is capable of stealing the show with his velvety skills.
Throughout the evening, Quentin kept tying everything together. The more complex the rhythms got, the more he came alive. So well equipped is he as a percussionist that it is hard sometimes to distinguish between his mischievous nature and his complete ease with the music.
Just in case you missed this splendid concert, don’t worry. You can catch this quartet most Wednesday evenings at Charleston Grill, downtown.
You can also enjoy some of this music on their new CD. Learn more here.