Concert Review: lalamarashad @ Alias Coffee, 09/23/2023

John Coltrane’s birthday on the 23rd was celebrated in style with a two-tenor lineup at Alias Coffee. The award-winning Ralph Lalama and his young student of four years, Aman Rashad, led a quintet as the twin tenor saxophonists. Alongside them, the house rhythm section comprised Joe Barna on drums, Jason Emmon on bass, and Ian MacDonald on piano, contributing to an enjoyable evening filled with bop and post-bop jazz.

The session effortlessly swung from the opening number, Sonny Rollins’ “Why Don’t I.” Both saxophonists played the opening choruses, with Rashad and Lalama subsequently taking solos, setting a lively tone for the two music sets.

Photo by Rudy Lu

The evening’s repertoire included Oliver Nelson’s “6 and 4,” a composition with a hypnotic beat that allowed the entire band to play variations over it. Adding a creative twist, the ballad “Whenever I Should Leave You” was delivered to a samba beat, showcasing the ensemble’s versatility.

The audience was treated to a vibrant performance of “You Are Cheating Yourself,” made famous by Frank Sinatra, played with great swing and pizzazz. “DaLama’s Dilemma,” an original piece, was performed with palpable gusto.

Aman Rashad started a solo performance with the timeless “Body and Soul,” with the rest of the band gradually joining in, creating a harmonious and moving rendition.

Photo by Rudy Lu

Despite the extraordinary talent and performance on display, the event sadly drew a sparse crowd. Optimism remains high for a larger audience at the upcoming event on October 15, when Alias Coffee will host the Troy Jazz Festival, featuring three different bands. The anticipation and excitement for this event are building, and it promises to be a delightful evening for jazz enthusiasts. Join us in celebrating the spirit and legacy of jazz at this remarkable venue.

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