LIVE: Joe Barna’s “Sketches of Influence” CD Release Party @ Lark St. Tavern, 05/22/2022

Joe Barna’s self-produced Sketches of Influence projects are truly an expression of personal inspiration. They are explicitly inspired by Joe’s personal life experiences.  This latest release “The Purpose” is dedicated to Joe’s mom Pam Barna, who turned 75 on the day of this performance.

The rhythm section of this band differed from the CD due to the conflicting commitments of the band members. NYC-based Nick Masters replaced Davis Whitfield on piano and Jason Emmond replaced James Robbins on bass.  Joe Barna and renowned saxophonist Stacy Dillard were the holdovers.

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Photo by Rudy Lu

The performance opened with a song dedicated to Joe’s mom, “Rose for Mom”. The song has a solid groove, featuring Stacy on soprano and Nick on piano both taking solos,

Stacy switched to tenor for “Scott Free”, dedicated to Scott Hall, a local musician. It was both swinging and melodic.

Gears were totally switched with the spiritual composition “The Purpose ”, a piece strongly influenced by John Coltrane’s soprano rearrangements of “My Favorite Things” and “Greensleeves”. Opening with Jason Emmond’s exotic-sounding bass lines and featuring Dillard’s soaring soprano.  Coltrane’s influence was clearly heard but the composition clearly had its own sound. . To me this was the outstanding piece of the concert.

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Photo by Rudy Lu

“Mandate” switched gears, it had the band playing like it means business. An insistent sound that truly means business. The tenor repeats the melody.

“ A Cross to Bear” was the ballad of the concert/album. Interestingly enough, it opens with Barna on mallets on his drums with the rest of the band following in, everybody getting their space to shine.

The closer was “That’s What She Said”, a playful piece on Dillard’s phrase on the “He Said, She Said” games.

A nice performance of jazz with good variety and choice, most certainly swinging. Chris Pratt has certainly turned  The Lark St. Tavern into an excellent listening room. Joe’s Sketches of Influence recordings are available on CD generally only at his gigs. Downloads and streaming are available at can also see Joe regularly at his Monday night jam sessions at 518 Craft in Troy. When weather permits, the sessions are outside. Musicians of all styles are welcome. This is what it’s all about. Creating music in the 518 and allowing it to blend!!!!

Photo Gallery by Rudy Lu

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