Can the health and vitality of a diverse, multifaceted music scene be revealed by reading the tea leaves of one gig?
Maybe not completely, but there’s plenty to ponder in the May 8 appearance of drummer Mat Marucci and pianist Dave Bass in a trio with bassist Kerry Kashiwagi at the Shady Lady.
Marucci and Bass are nationally known veteran jazz musicians who both happen to have new records, which they recorded on the East Coast. Kashiwagi is a low-key but active local musician and one of the co-founders of the Capital Jazz Project. The night of mainstream jazz will be the public debut of the co-operative trio.
Bass is a musician-turned-state-attorney-turned-musician-again, whose March release, “NYC Sessions,” garnered a four-star review in Downbeat and solidly positive mentions in Jazz Inside, Latin Jazz Network and Jazz Times.
Recorded in New York with with jazz stalwarts such as alto saxophonist Phil Woods, trombonist Conrad Herwig and drummer Ignacia Berroa, the music was written mostly by Bass.
Marucci’s new “Live At Jazz Central,” was taken from a recorded piano trio performance at the club Jazz Central in Syracuse, N.Y. It’s also mainly original music by the leader except for his variation on the classical theme “Intermezzo” from “Cavalleria Russticano.”
Marucci played behind organist Jimmy Smith in his Sacramento years and has played or recorded with major jazz figures, including Kenny Burrell, Eddie Harris and Pharoah Sanders, among many others. Marucci’s recordings and books on drumming have received four- and five-star reviews in Jazz Times, Jazziz, Modern Drummer, Downbeat and Drum! magazines.
Still, with all that, the trio will be playing at a busy social bar more known for its excellent cocktails than its refreshingly open-minded musical taste. Jazz fans can be happy the group is playing anywhere outside of Bass’ spacious home music room in Roseville, where he keeps his grand piano and where they’ve been rehearsing.
Kashiwagi and Bass connected earlier this year and decided to play together for fun. Kashiwagi then brought Marucci in, and they all hit it off.
“I knew who Mat was, but I’d never played with him,” Bass said. “Both of those guys are very sensitive musicians who’ve done lots of different things.”
Marucci has been known for what he calls “more stretched-out stuff” often recording and playing in piano-less trios of saxophone, bass and drums. Kashiwagi’s background is similarly broad. Besides the straight-ahead tightly themed gigs of the Capital Jazz Project, he’s been showing in groups at the Monday night Luna’s shows.
“For me it’s a chance to do other stuff that isn’t just my own,” Bass said. “It’s sorta nice to be a side man because that’s a function of a cooperative trio where each of the three of us brings our tunes or our own standards to the set.”
Bass and Marucci described how the trio democratically go around the room, each calling a tune that the band then figures out how to play. Sometimes the song works, and sometimes it doesn’t. They play each other’s originals and make up versions of standards. They’ve enjoyed it and also feel like they’ve created the sound of a band.
Marucci remembers a Sacramento scene in the ’80s, which included jazz every night of the week in places such as On Broadway and Bull Market.
“Scenes go up and down. They definitely go in cycles,” Marucci said. “The cycles seem to affect the whole jazz community, not just your specific city.”
Marrucci remembered the dedicated audience all the years he played with legendary avant garde saxophonist John Tchicai, who spent a decade living in Davis and performing throughout the area and who died in 2012. “Sometimes the more stretched-out stuff has a bigger audience because you’re really appealing to creative people who just want to hear that,” he said.
Bass won’t have his beloved grand piano at the Shady Lady.
“Doing it live even with a second-rate electric piano in front of an audience. That’s jazz,” he said.
“The live thing – if people are listening and reacting – it makes you play different, in a good way. Just the way the musicians interact with each other, they’ll interact with the audience. It’s the band and the audience together.”
Call The Bee’s Marcus Crowder, (916) 321-1120. Follow him on Twitter @marcuscrowder.
Kashiwagi, Bass and Marucci
What: Mainstream jazz with the Kerry Kashiwagi Trio featuring Dave Bass and Mat Marucci
When: 9 p.m. May 8
Where: The Shady Lady Saloon, 1409 R St., Sacramento
Cost: No cover charge
Information: (916) 231-9121; shadyladybar.com