Jimmy Mak's - August 8, 2006
Farnell Newton/Marcus Reynolds Quintet
Farnell Newton - Trumpet
Marcus Reynolds - Piano
Devin Phillips - Tenor & Soprano Saxophones
Eric Gruber - Bass
Kassa Overall - Drums
I try to go see the Farnell Newton/Marcus Reynolds Quintet whenever I see that they're playing. I've invited people out and some of them invited friends, so it feels like a party.
Marcus graduated from Western Michigan University with a degree in Classical Piano Performance and Jazz Studies, while Farnell graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, so they have obviously studied, and they have plenty of experience, as well. They've been collaborating since 2000 and recently produced an exceptional CD of mostly original compositions, Sense of Direction www.fnmusicweb.com/fnmr. I've written about them twice, in April and July, and they've been written up and given high praise in various publications. They deserve it, with their high level of musicianship.
Farnell and Marcus appear to be opposites; Marcus in a white shirt and slacks and Farnell in an oversized silk shirt. Marcus likes to talk about the music after a performance, but Farnell just wants to play. They are, however, soulful, kindred spirits and appreciate what each brings to the music.
Tonight they're joined by New Orleans native, Devin Phillips on saxophones, the fine bassist Eric Gruber, and Seattle drummer Kassa Overall, a recent Oberlin graduate, who tells me he's heading for New York soon.
They play several originals, The Two Larrys, Blues for Bela, and Lover's Groove. Farnell and Marcus give Cedar Walton's Bolivia a Latin treatment. For a solo piece Devin chooses Ghost of a Chance. His solos are very powerful, yet he can treat a ballad with tenderness, as he does here. They closed the set with Alvin Batiste's Mozart-In'. Devin often honors Alvin Batiste, one of his teachers at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. Marcus has an amazing solo, fingers flying, and Devin kills on soprano sax.
They open the second set with Joe Henderson's Recordame. Followed by Marcus's lovely composition Minha Valsa, which means My Waltz in Portuguese. Farnell follows this with a gorgeous ballad. His clear, sweet tone can give you chills. Then two standards, Straight No Chaser and In a Sentimental Mood. At the end of the evening the spirited Bourbon Street Parade makes you feel like you're in New Orleans. What a great party this has been.
The new Jimmy Mak's is very cool. If you haven't been yet, you've got to go. Jimmy Mak's serves Mediterranean fare in a non-smoking environment. Minors are welcome 8-9pm Mon-Sat. No cover Monday, $6 Tuesday, $5 Wednesday & Thursday. Cover varies Friday & Saturday. Jimmy Mak's is located at 221 NW 10th, phone 503-295-6542.