Tonight a happy crowd packed Hugh’s Room for the launch of The Three Davids, a CD featuring music by three guys named David: the Davids Frishberg / Shire and Warrack. Onstage we listened to instrumentalists Charlie Gray, Alex Dean, David Young, led by David Warrack, sometimes accompanying vocalist Stevie Vallance.
The variety over the course of our evening took us across a broad range of styles, most of which could loosely be called jazz. Sometimes we were hearing something progressive and daringly spontaneous, other times, the players fell into the background for Vallance’s vocal stylings. Sometimes the songs were clearly articulated musical comedy, with the barest accompaniment, other times the vocal line was just one among many adventurous instrumentals.
We learned that Stevie Vallance is an Emmy award winner, a woman whose voice showed remarkable versality, as agile as a gymnast. The constellation of stars onstage varied throughout, seemingly a little different for every song. At the beginning we heard a duet from Vallance and Young, at times she sang with Warrack. She’s a charming presence who seemed to be having fun the whole time, without any sign that she was ever taxed or tired.
Everyone had their moments to shine. Gray’s warm flugelhorn, Dean brilliant every time he cut loose in a solo on his saxophone, wonderfully soulful on the flute. I am completely in awe of David Young’s musicianship, the most remarkable ear to find pitches as he probes unerringly up high, whether bowing or plucking. Anchoring everything, David Warrack gave as much as needed, sometimes teasing us with a minimalist sketch of the chord structure, at other times bursting forth with passionate lyricism. The closing number was an unforgettable take on “Autumn Leaves”, beginning with something resembling a bluesy Bach Toccata on solo piano, seguing into a swaggering trio.
And I can’t say enough about Hugh’s Room as a venue for live music. They’re like an old-time nightclub as you’d see in the movies. We sat on a slightly higher level, looking down on the floor level surrounding the performers. Yet it’s wonderfully intimate. If I were a jazz musician (ha… as if) this is where I’d want to play. Dinner was awesome (I had a wonderfully original Caesar salad, while across the table I saw a superb carrot ginger soup, and that was just the first of 3 courses). We chose the prix fixe meal. For $35 we were stuffed and buzzing over the quality of the food.
Hey Hugh’s Room, you had me at “David Warrack”…. I suppose it was an act of mercy to let the artists leave after the encores. We wanted to hear more, but we’d had a superb evening already. They held nothing back.