By Sergio Berrueta
First Friday Jazz Concert at the S2 Recital Hall delivered, as Luther Hughes and the Cannonball-Coltrane Project brought a mix of old and new jazz styles and arrangements.
Members included Glenn Cashman on tenor sax, Ed Czach on piano, Paul Kreibich on drums, and Luther Hughes on bass with special guest Tom Luer on alto sax.
As the concert started, the band began to play the Cannonball classic “The Work Song,” introducing the audience to the tributes and covers of Cannonball Adderly and John Coltrane being played for the evening.
Hughes proceeded to introduce the band and give insight into the songs they will be performing.
“This next song is from our second album ‘Things Are Getting Better’ and is dedicated to McCoy Tyner, Coltrane’s longtime pianist, entitled…well, McCoy,” Hughes said.
The sounds of drums and alto sax rang through the halls with the samba inspired number leading to a riveting crowd pleasing piano solo by Czach.
The next tune ’What Dolphins Say’, written by Cashman, provided a Latin Samba spin to the room inspired by the idea of aquatic life suddenly speaking.
The slow paced number brought a wave of relaxation and smooth drum brush hits, giving a sense of exploring the ocean world down below.
Quickly after, the band played a new arrangement on the classic love standard ‘Once in a While,” made popular by greats such as Ella Fitzgerald and Johnny Mathis.
The arrangement gave the slow and somber tune a new life by giving it a fast-paced bossa nova feel. The alto sax and tenor sax switched back and forth, taking the stage and delivering a fantastic duet by the song’s end.
The next song was an untitled free-form ensemble piece inspired by Cannonball. The piece allowed each member to fully express themselves with Tom Luer giving a tremendous alto sax solo.
After, the band proceeded to perform another original piece written by Kreibich entitled “Takin’ It Home.”
While explaining the inspiration for the song, Kreibich said with humor, “I’ve made dozens of dollars with the song, that’s why I love it”, with Hughes quickly replying, “I’m greedy too. I love this song because it begins with a bass solo.”
As they played, the essence of Coltrane oozed out with homages to the Coltrane classic “My Favorite Things,” with Luer and his alto sax once again stealing the show.
Hughes also got praised with his fantastic light bass solo with Kreibich’s tremendous mixed beats and use of percussion following behind.
The last tune of the evening returned to the bossa nova sound of earlier entitled “Capistrano,” written by Cashman with Luther humorously quipping “Of course you would write about Capistrano while living in Lake Elsinore.”
The tune itself was a light ballad perfected by Czach getting another turn in the spotlight by turning in a fantastic performance from his piano.
As the concert came to a close, Hughes decided there was enough time for one more number, the classic jazz standard “Limehouse Blues” as performed by Cannonball and Coltrane on Cannonball Adderley Quintet in Chicago.
The number gave the feel of the previous free-form ensemble piece. Kriebich delivered a dazzling drum solo, giving the spotlight to Luer and Cashman’s stellar dueling saxes.