Wednesday went from jazz to jams when I visited the downtown Syracuse Suds Factory for the JT Hall Jazz Consort followed by Fusion, for their weekly Phantom Acoustic Showcase.
The shows made for a nice contrast – sunny, Suds was filled up with the jazz group’s disciplined sound, each musician clearly experienced on their instrument and how to share the space as each took a turn at a solo. Though Hall admitted some of the songs were being performed for the first time and the initial hesitations that come with that were clear, the band recovered beautifully from any falter, showing their seasoned professionalism. It was refreshing to see such a talented group out downtown on a Wednesday night. It was disappointing to hear they don’t play out much. Jazz venues that book regularly in town are hard to come by and it’s unfortunate considering the available talent. Listen up:
On the flip-side – Fusion’s dark, club-like atmosphere brought all types of musicians to the stage, ranging in age and attitude from soft acoustic guitars to metal vocal bellows. Fusion’s idea to provide an open forum for musicians to come experiment with short, casual sets is brilliant and gives everyone there the opportunity to see, learn, talk, experiment and network with other musicians, sound engineers, bookers, studio professionals, fans and others locally active in the industry. The fact that the event is weekly and ever-changing, always bringing new, fresh talent to the stage is engaging to listen to and stimulating for musicians searching for places to try out new material or meet others to work with.
A few favorites on tape include South Bay – an up-tempo group lead by two brothers that feature electric violin on some tunes and a killer Cee Lo Green impression on others. Though the band boasts it’s electric material, the acoustic set might be just as fun.
Scott Bravo, who came to the stage in a “NY <3’s ME”
t-shirt and with dyed pitch-black, eye-hiding hair, had me confused. I was
unsure what to expect from his mixed appearance. But when he unleashed his fast
fingers up, down and across the neck of his guitar, playing both sentimental
and fast-paced, celtic-themed tunes, the talent was apparent. See his softer side on one of his slower tunes here...