It's incredible how a space is transformed when it's filled with the ephemeral interplay of live jazz. JAS brings a level of talent and skill that you'd expect to find in sleek speakeasies in New York or San Francisco, but we're extremely fortunate to have them play this Friday (December 29th) at our downtown cafe.
I asked them a few questions, and Shotwell was kind enough to give us a look at jazz through the musician's eyes.
"Jazz is freedom to do whatever I like. There are no and shouldn't be real rules, just make the music as good as it can be wherever it may go. It makes me feel like a kid if I'm approaching it correctly, like hearing other players do new things and responding to you. It's important to me because it lets me let go and not care. Forget about mistakes and live in the present."
"Hmmm..." He laughed and said, "If I knew the real answer to this question all my problems would be solved because then I would just do that every time." He laughed and continued, "I think it's about getting to the right head space. When I feel like I've played well and true, my head is in the right place. Kind of shut off but hyper alert. A free flow kind of state. As a band, I can sense when we are all there together, when we get there it's magic and I can tell the audience is with us too. I struggle finding that place sometimes, but it really helps to have people you trust to get there."
"One of the first groups was Maynard Ferguson's Big Bop Neuvo. Which strangely enough a friend of mine sent me a recording of today, which he was the sax player on the album. Pretty cool. When I realized he was the one playing on the first jazz album I dug, and we were playing together on the Holiday Jam tour, it was kind of like meeting my real dad." He laughed and quickly followed up by saying, "I love my real dad, so Dad, if you read this don't take that the wrong way, but it was kind of a brain explosion."
After apologies to his father, Shotwell also included Miles Davis's Kind of Blue, and finished saying, "Groups like Mahavishnu Orchestra and Weather Report as well. I was real into Grunge, Funk and Rock, so they kind of bridged that gap for me."
"I think the three of us are all on board to let things go wherever they need to go at that moment. We start with an idea, and they can all steer it in any direction, or go along for the ride if someone else is steering. I also think these two have a great concept of sound and where sounds should fit. We love the downtown Coffea room, because it allows us to play with real subtlety. We can let the real tone of the instruments fill the room without getting to loud."
The full JAS group is made up of five members: Joel Shotwell-saxophone, Jim Speirs-trumpet, Daniel Heier-drums, Jeffrey Paul-keys, and Andrew Reinartz-Bass. Shotwell will be joined by two other members of the JAS Quintet Friday, December 29th, so come on down for the music, and also hear owner and wine- aficionado Jenna Aukerman introduce our brand new wine menu.
This menu was curated by Aukerman and downtown manager Doug Hair, and for a short run will offer exclusively Italian wines that showcase some of the country's defining qualities.