Ironic that my first night out in weeks would be to see a band called Go Home. I’d written about them here. They opened a California mini-tour tonight at Kuumbwa Jazz Center, and they brought the house down. You can relive the moment via this really awful picture from my cheap but loveable camera.
Go Home is a supergroup, at least from a Bay Area fan’s POV. To review: Ben Goldberg (clarinet) does the composing for the band, molding songs from Thelonious Monk and Steve Lacy influences and adding a touch of Klezmer. But he’s written these pieces knowing that Charlie Hunter is in there on 7-stringed guitar, ready to deliver the funk (as is drummer Scott Amendola), leading to some hard-driving, danceably bluesy songs.
Hunter, Goldberg, and Amendola all have local followings, so it was a receptive crowd tonight, with generous applause after almost every solo. It was fun. Ron Miles was the only unknown quantity to the crowd, being a trumpeter from Colorado, but he won them over immediately with his solo on “TGO,” the catchy opener. Everyone got a solo on that one, actually, and it was a nice way to rev up the audience.
I arrived late and had to sit off to the left — which turned out to be the perfect spot to see Hunter’s fingers on the fretboard. Which is cool and also unnerving. He plays bass lines during his guitar solos, and I’ve had the experience before of verifying this by standing in the front row at Bimbo’s 365 Club, watching his fingers. It elicits some strong reactions. Like, “Wow.” Or, “Can all jazz guitarists do that? I’m not sure they can all do that.” Or, “The five guitar chords I’ve learned are meaningless, meaningless! My life is a BARREN GODLESS VOID!”
Anyway. The show was good. We already know Goldberg can drive home a solo in a jazzy context, as in the Plays Monk trio or on his Lacy-influenced The Door, the Hat, the Chair, the Fact. But it was a treat to hear him in a Charlie Hunter kind of milieu. One solo had Goldberg skittering along with one high note, letting the guitar changes do their bluesy, blubbling fliips underneath. Fun stuff.
Even the longer, suite-like “All Chords Stand for Other Chords” got rapt attention during the quiet stretches and some hoots and hollers for the busier parts. That one may have gotten the loudest applause of the night, in fact (a hard-grooving Hunter solo probably helped).
It’s great, too, to see an audience that doesn’t want to sit still when the band is rocking out. Santa Cruz brings out an interesting crowd — the white-haired jazz lovers were the ones really dancing in their seats, while the goateed students tended more to sit and nod their heads.
Go Home’s self-titled CDs aren’t back from the printers yet, dammit. They’re going to be worth hunting down when the time comes. In the meantime, if you happen to be in the Bay Area or further north, you’ve got a few more days to catch the band before Miles goes back to Colorado and Hunter, now a New Yorker, embarks on his own tour.
Friday, Feb. 6, at Cafe Du Nord, SF (part of Amendola’s 40th birthday bash)
Saturday, Feb. 7, at the Freight & Salvage, Berkeley
Sunday, Feb. 8, at Throckmorton Theater, Mill Valley
Monday, Feb. 9, at Humboldt State, Arcata