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Howard Alden

Warren Vache

Warren Vache & Jon Burr

John Burr

Photos by Andrzej Pilarczyk

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The Van Dyck,
Schenectady, NY
March 22, 2014

by Andrzej "Andre" Pilarczyk

Those that came for the 7 p.m. full-house show of The Howard Alden All-Star Trio performing at the Van Dyck that Saturday night in March probably had a great time, but those 14 who were there for the 9:30 show had the show of their life. It was more intimate: it was grand and it made you feel like these three legends were playing just for you in the middle of your living room.

It doesn't get any better then that!

Bassist Jon Burr, a ten year veteran of Stephane Grappelli's band, held down the bottom end while Howard Alden, one of the finest guitarists playing within the jazz idiom today was pulling double duty as both rhythm and lead on his instrument.

But the central focal point of the night was legendary trumpeter Warren Vache.

The group may have been led by Alden, but out of respect to the former Benny Goodman orchestra star, he let Vache take the lion's share of trumpet solos and accolades. That alone says volumes about Alden- he totally respects the jazz tradition while being one of the undisputed guitar legends with in it.

Vache, Alden and Burr may have started out with a written skeleton of a set-list of jazz standards and pop tunes from the American song book, but halfway through their set they were each verbally throwing out numbers to try on the 14 of us there in the audience.

No problem, we were all groovin to the music whatever the song title. (Think your own living room: for real)

What was remarkable about that approach was that neither Vache or Alden had any sheet music in front of them when they played. All one player had to say to the other was the title and the musical key to play in and that was enough to ignite the burner. And the flame went to full burn in a matter of seconds. The song or composition was immediately in the pocket from the first note to the last.

For bassist Burr Alden, it was a little more difficult in most cases, but Alden magically produced the notes on staff paper for him, from, God knows, where.

No worries, all the notes flying off the stage were effortless and seamless throughout the set.

This astounding trio finished their set with the 1939 classic "We'll Meet Again" which filled the room with that nostalgic air that both straddled the timeless of the song and that sinking feeling that you can't be ending this set now.

It was a great show with amazing music especially delivered for those 14 people who were there. Like I said, it doesn't get any better than this. That was one of the best shows of 2014 for all of us.