The crowd had thinned out a bit at Tony's Steak and Seafood in Ventura, Ca. The ambiance began to take on the air of a Parisian jazz club. The duo of Drew Salperto at the Piano and Carl Saunders on Trumpet were playing with finesse and controlled fury, there was an underlying sense of urgency to the beauty they were creating, almost as if the moment would end too soon. It was a clinic in flawless craftsmanship.
"Round Midnight" was performed with the delicate nuances that this tune engenders. Saunders every note was crystal clear demonstrating his distinctive melodic style. Salperto was equally as sensitive as his counterpart with delicate notes augmented by strong chords and a superb solo.
"Darn That Dream" has a lilting quality that was explored fully by Saunders striking soliloquy. Drew Salperto's comping added spice to the already intoxicating mood laid down by the duo.
"I Got It Bad" showcased this fine Pianist at his mesmerising best and Saunders painted a musical picture with a poise and grace that is inherent in his powerful statements (and that ain't bad)
To say that Carl Saunders is a trumpet player is like saying Picasso drew pictures. Saunders is without a doubt the standard by which other musicians on that instrument are judged. His tone is pure and unfettered, the quotes are alluded to with clever precision, the phrasing is incomparable. The listener is rewarded with a lush richness on the ballads with lines as clean as the board of health. The up tempo pieces have the dexterity of Dizzy Gillespie with rapid fire notes filling the air like a melodic machine gun. It is the consensus among Saunders' peers that he is not only the chief proponent of 'bop' on his instrument and a balladeer of unequalled sensitivity but a composer and arranger of exquisite taste and ability.
Drew Salperto at the Piano is facility personified, his ideation has overtones of Bud Powell's spiritual bouquets, but he remains true to his own modus and expression, and the result is magical. Salperto's speed is not a confluence of senseless notes, but well constructed phrases in which harmony is wedded to the theme with an ease developed and honed with the groups of Freddie Hubbard and Chet Baker to name a couple. Drew Salperto is a gifted artist, his pianistic ability has a strong message; competence plus swing equals power and proficiency.
These two performers blended magnificently, each complementing the other in expression. The exchanges were clever four or two bar mini works of art and each played off of the other with the adroitness that only years of experience can produce.
This was a special night with special musicians. It gets no better than this. Only different.