All That Jazz
Was it the first time I heard Chip Herrington and his fabulous trumpet? No.
Was it the first time I heard a live jazz performance? No.
Was it the first time I heard the two things combined? Yes.
Chip Herrington Jazz Quintet came out last night to play ball and they hit a home-run.
Luckily I arrived early enough to The Listening Room to hear sound check, which is often a mini show in itself. I enjoyed sound check and it whet my appetite for so much more.
Chip Herrington Jazz Quintet consists of:
Chip Herrington- band leader, trumpet player, vocalist
Shane Philen- saxophone player
Bryan Chisholm- keyboardist
David White- drummer
Lizz Hough- upright bass player
The show started with “Work Song” by Nat Adderley. Nat was a cornetist who recorded this song in 1960. I had not heard of it before but I will recognize it if I hear it again. Great song. Song number two was Miles Davis’ “Freddie The Freeloader”. This one had a jaunty keyboard presence that was brought out by Bryan Chisolm. For me Bryan is a natural born pianist/keyboardist. He has those very long fingers that can stretch to every key with ease as he plays. He feels the music as he gets carried away by it. Then he locates and fills in all of the spaces where he belongs in the song while leaving room for the others to jump into their spot. I will keep an eye on Bryan and check him out at the next Big Band Society show in Mobile at Blue Gill Restaurant.
Chet Baker’s tune “But Not for Me” came up next. I so enjoyed Chip’s vocals on that tune… here is a sample of the lyrics ”They’re writing songs of love, but not for me. A lucky star’s above, but not for me. With love to lead the way, I’ve found more clouds of grey than any Russian play could guarantee.”…. As i listened to those words I could feel melancholy floating in the air above me. Great job Chip.
They went on to play “Autumn in New York” (“Glittering crowds and shimmering clouds in canyons of steel”…) when I checked out this song online…the lyrics gave a description of New York that felt right to me.
They played “So What”…I love the attitude of this song. As a matter of fact, my eyes were on Lizz Houg (upright bass) a lot. She is statuesque if ever anyone was. I have seen many men play upright bass but seeing a lady do it was a first for me. Lizz is tall enough, strong enough and can handle the bass with ease. I tried to read her through her expressions but I am not sure I was successful at that. Once when they were playing “So What”…in my view, she had a look of "So What"! (I could have misread her thoughts but I thought she was sassy, yet chill at the same time). I understand she is from Akron, Ohio. Lizz has a unique look and her facial expressions held my attention. At times I noticed her moving with the music, tapping her feet and bending her knees on the livelier songs. Who she is and how she appears grabbed my attention, my eyes and ears stayed on her as she played those low bass notes .
I learned so much that I did not know before about jazz last night as Chip explained, in jazz, time is taken to feature each band member to let them shine. I did some research and l came across this line…”jazz is a type of music characterized by improvisation, syncopation and usually a forceful rhythm.”
The drummer, David White used a small drum set with 3-4 cymbals. He caressed the rhythm and filled out each song…becoming always much more animated when it was his turn to shine. I have heard it said “a band is only as good as its drummer”….The Chip Herrington Jazz Quintet was great…!
That's what I say about this drummer. (great!)
Who doesn’t love the saxophone. I have heard saxophones played in many different genres, even country music. It can find a place if the player knows what he is doing and Shane Philen certainly knows what he is doing. Jazz screams for a good saxophone to show it the way…Shane did just that. He knows his instrument so well, he teaches band at Mobile University. So, not only is he an expert saxophonist, he teaches others how as well. Shane has 3 CDs out of his own, however he has played on the CDs of fellow musicians to the tune of approximately 150. Great job!
Last but not least, Chip…what more can I say about Chip Herrington. Chip is so many things in addition to being a great musician. I will focus strictly on his music today. He can play a trumpet like nobody’s business. He also plays a muted trumpet (the style of Miles Davis). He can sing (I did not know this until last night). He has a voice that is “like BUTTA”. That is what a jazz song needs, a smooth, comforting voice to take you to another place, another time.
Yes Chip can play that trumpet. Yes Chip can sing with a voice like butter. But his real talent is leadership. He is a man who walks into a room…loud and proud. No one has to give him the reigns…he brings them with him. Any successful band must have a strong leader. Here he is.
Honestly, I have said this line a time or two in the past…”Jazz is just not for me.”….but after this show I am ashamed of myself for not pursuing jazz and giving it a fair chance. I am after all, an equal opportunity listener. I love jazz now!
Thank You Chip Herrington Jazz Quintet (FYI unless you add a member you cannot claim to be a SEXtet).
Thank you Chip Herrington for being the greatest trumpet player & band leader
Thank you Shane Philen for the conversation and the great saxophone playing
Thank you Lizz Hough for that upright bass playing and your tall sultry self
Thank you Bryan Chisholm for being the masterful keyboardist you are.
Thank you David White for playing those drums wonderfully and guiding the band.
Thank you Jim Pennington for providing this lighthouse in the FOG for musicians to be heard and honored the way they deserve. The Listening Room of Mobile Rocks!