Patterns of Change Quartet
Live @ Record Runner
Record Runner Rehearsal Studios
Friday, May 18, 2018 – 8 p.m.
The Patterns of Change Quartet has a classic jazz line-up – saxophone, piano, bass, drums – and musical tastes which run from 60s modal jazz to a more modern groove. But what I noticed most about these four Ottawa-area musicians’ performance was their high energy, their wide dynamic range, and how carefully they interlaced their sound.
The group is co-led by saxophonist Vince Rimbach and bassist Marc Decho, with pianist Clayton Connell and drummer Valeriy Nehovora. The four first started playing together last fall in Decho's larger Warp'tet group, but only debuted as this quartet last month.
Performing before an enthusiastic audience at Record Runner on Friday, the quartet combined originals by Rimbach and Decho with jazz and pop classics from the 1960s and 70s. They strode forth assertively in their first number: “Resolution” from John Coltrane's classic album “A Love Supreme”. The combination of Rimbach's powerful, rolling tenor sax lines over thundering grooves on keyboards, bass, and drums enveloped the audience in the music, while a later joyous keyboard solo by Connell and sultry bass-lines from Decho provided a notable contrast.
Decho's “Blues 4 MDA” opened with a hard-edged beat, but then developed into a sweet Latin groove, the opposite of the first number. Rimbach's soprano sax, rather than driving the piece, instead danced above the bass/drums groove with long ribbons of melody. The music slowed for Connell's quiet and reflective keyboards solo, and then – with a smash-bang drum solo from Nehovora – it steadily built up to a final flourish.
At the beginning of the song, Decho warned the audience that he was reviving an older piece, and this was the first time this quartet had played it – “and it could be completely awful or really cool”. At the end, the audience's happy consensus was “cool”.
Rimbach's “Whatever” was an expressive ballad, featuring thoughtful solos from him on soprano and Connell on keyboards – and fitting in the best of the tradition. The quartet's next piece, Thelonious Monk's “Monk's Dream”, was a complete contrast: they took a jazz classic and deconstructed it into sizzling patterns of notes. Connell's percussive and organ-voiced keyboards were nicely set off by Nehovora's cymbal flurries and the piece became almost funky before returning to its original, upbeat theme.
Pianist Joe Zawinul wrote “Mr. Gone” for the jazz fusion group Weather Report in the 1970s. The quartet's rendition opened with Decho's deep, pulsating bass line which filled the room, and over which the other musicians could create their own diverse and punctuated patterns. The music felt like a series of layers, sliding around each other and combining in different ways. I particularly liked Connell's use of a vibraphone voice on his keyboards: its glistening sound was beautiful in its own right and nicely offset the driving bass and drums.
In the first set, I thought the group was playing a bit too loudly for the intimate listening room, especially Nehovora's very intense drumming. In the second set, however, the volume moderated to be in tune with the space – allowing me to particularly enjoy Nehovora's inventive techniques and his full use of the entire kit.
The second set opened with the compelling Latin vibe of Decho's “Rivera”, which he wrote after hearing the legendary Cuban saxophonist Paquito D'Rivera. The whole band was smiling by the end of this joyous, summery piece. In contrast, Rimbach's “Little Lady” had a Chet Baker-style West Coast jazz vibe, with extended conversational solos from Rimbach and Connell.
It's been many years since I'd heard the 60s hit “Sunshine Superman” by Donovan. The band gave it a bright jazz fusion arrangement, with Rimbach's tenor playing the insinuating melody. He followed that with an original inspired by Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter, a patroness of many famous NYC jazz musicians from the 1950s to 1980s. In the 1960s, the Baroness compiled a book of interviews with 300 musicians, in which she asked them for their three wishes. The book was finally published in 2006, and Rimbach wrote his piece, “Three Wishes”, after reading it. The tune was definitely in the 60s style: a full-bodied and articulate conversation among the quartet.
There was a distinct “Wow!” in the room after the quartet's extended closing number, “Lonnie's Lament” by John Coltrane. From the same period in Coltrane's career as “Resolution”, this was a luminous and affirmative interpretation: yes, a lament, but given hope by energetic drumming, confident tenor sax lines, flowing and vivid bass patterns, and spirited keyboards.
The audience applauded warmly and demanded an encore after that piece. After some consultation, the quartet chose the jazz standard “On Green Dolphin Street”, beginning it slowly with sensitivity and feeling and then adding a gentle and celebratory swing. The audience responded with strong applause.
It was a pity that more listeners didn't take advantage of hearing these talented musicians in this supportive venue, though the good weather at the beginning of the first long weekend of the summer may be partially to account.
The Great Room at Record Runner Rehearsal Studios again provided a fine listening environment, in which I could hear every nuance and become fully immersed in this music. The quality of the sound in this intimate room (it’s about 2/3 the size of GigSpace, with attractive art decorating the walls), the friendly, informative introductions by owner and host Paul Adjeleian, and the overall vibe of the shows, including refreshments at intermission, is one of the best-kept jazz secrets in town. The Live @ Record Runner series has consistently presented performances that have had the audience wanting more after the final song.
- Resolution (John Coltrane)
- Blues 4 MDA (Marc Decho)
- Whatever (Vince Rimbach)
- Monk's Dream (Thelonious Monk)
- Mr. Gone (Joe Zawinul)
- Rivera (Marc Decho)
- Little Lady (Vince Rimbach)
- Sunshine Superman (Donovan Leitch)
- Three Wishes (Vince Rimbach)
- Lonnie's Lament (John Coltrane)
- Encore: On Green Dolphin Street (Bronisław Kaper)
Read related stories by OttawaJazzScene.ca:
- Marc Decho's Warp'tet builds their own sound on Jaco Pastorius' 'mind blowing' compositions
- Valeriy Nehovora: a passionate percussionist feels welcomed in Canada
Read other reviews of Live @ Record Runner concerts: