By Arielle Gervasi
Remember a time when music came from a collaboration of musicians and singers skilled and honed to their craft? When you could sit in a small, smoky little night club and hear live jazz: the music that defined a generation of American music culture? Chances are, only a few of you have been alive long enough to remember that era: before rock, hip-hop, and electronic. Jazz is a magical genre of music with the ability not only to provide a time-travelesque quality, but to make the listener stop and tap a foot…or two. Music that was developed in early night clubs with the spirit of rebellion, sexiness, and soul.
The last performance I saw at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley I think officially confirmed the Alley as my all-time favorite venue. It provides not only a warm, romantic setting to set the mood (when the show starts, the lights dim leaving you to notice only the band and the glow of the candles set on each table), but also a chance to see live performances from some of the most talented jazz musicians in the country. Big names like Kenny G and John Lee Hooker have all played there.
Last Wednesday, January 23, the featured band was Davina and the Vagabonds. I had never heard of this group, other than the short description on the Jazz Alley website that read, “A combination of Blues, Jazz, Dixieland, and Ragtime” and that apparently they had played live on King 5 News the day before. Naturally I was excited to see what they could pull out with a combination like that.
The first song stopped me in my tracks—the minute pianist and lead vocalist Davina Sowers let out the first few smooth, sultry notes. She just had that voice…with enough smoky, brassy quality to give the trumpet player a run for his money when, in one of the songs, her voice and the trumpet have a solo-faceoff. And then when I thought I’d heard it all, surprise… all the other musicians had their own vocal and instrumental solos as well! Michael Carvale on stand-up bass, Alec Tackmann on drums, Daniel Eikmeier on trumpet, and Ben Link on trombone played a killer diller set that actually lasted, without break, for 2 hours! As a former vocalist myself, to this day I can’t fathom how they could pull off such high-energy jazz singing and playing without one break.
As for the venue, Davina and the Vagabonds admitted that, while they had played a lot of venues touring across the U.S., Jazz Alley had to be the best place they’ve played yet.
So come downtown and see it for yourself. Cleverly located with its entrance in a small alley way, Dimitrou’s Jazz Alley boasts:
6 nights of music per week (Tuesday-Sunday),
An all-ages venue (21+ only in the bar), and
Also, check the website for student, military, and senior discounts.
Dimitrou’s Jazz Alley Event Calendar: http://www.jazzalley.com/calendar.asp
Davina and the Vagabonds: http://davinaandthevagabonds.com/