SMALLS JAZZ CLUB, NYC — For a very mild-mannered guy, Matt Pavolka writes some pretty intense music.
And his band members, also very easy-going between sets, play with equal intensity and passion, producing sounds that provoked lots of audible “wows” in the audience.
When these guys play, they command the complete attention of their audience.
Matt’s songs have titles that are as esoteric and intriguing as his music.
In a New York Times review of his latest album (), Nate Chinen wrote, “There’s a smattering of high-literary references on ‘The Horns Band’ (Fresh Sound New Talent)… Don’t get too hung up on them, or you might scare up more questions than answers — begin to wonder, for example, why ‘Vheissu,’ inspired by Thomas Pynchon’s novel ‘V,’ worries a single melodic phrase in a way that seems better suited to ‘Recollected Forward,’ named after Kierkegaard’s concept of repetition.”
Bassist-composer Matt Pavolka doubles on trombone and leads an aptly named quintet—with cornetist Kirk Knuffke, saxist Loren Stillman, trombonist Jacob Garchik and drummer Mark Ferber.
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THE COVER: Most nights it’s $20, which isn’t bad (it’s also not the cheapest!). Here’s what their website says:
- $20 (7.30 PM – 12.30 AM)
- $10 After hours and Afternoons
- $10 Students (2nd set only select shows, please ask the doorman)
- $0 Angels, Wizards and Holy People are always free.
THE VIBE: The funky jazz club atmosphere begins as you descend a tight stairway into the club, which is appropriately dark and crowded and buzzing. It’s immediately apparent this is a “listening” jazz bar because there are rows and rows of chairs set up in front of the stage. Again, as I believe you should do in all jazz clubs, go straight to the front row, or take one of the seats along the right where you can watch the drummer up close and personal. I met several drummers who do exactly that, and they’re in heaven.
THE DRINKS: As usual, I drank beer, and there are enough good choices (Lagunitas again!) to make a beer fan happy.