DWIGHT TRIBLE AND MAGGIE BROWN IN CONCERT
November 28, 2015
Reviewed by Dee Dee McNeil/ Jazz Journalist
The Ann and Jerry Moss Theater is located in Santa Monica as part of Herb Albert’s Educational Village on Olympic Blvd. It’s a cozy space that seats about 250 to 300 people and promises good acoustics. The concert space began to fill up pretty quickly on Saturday night, Nov 28, 2015, for the tribute concert to Oscar Brown Jr. produced by Ruth Price as part of her Moveable Feast/Jazz Bakery productions. This year she was blessed to receive an NEA grant in support of “Concerts and Conversations with Jazz Legends of Southern California”. Greeting us in a loose-fitting, silky-white blouse, a cap and dark slacks, Price told the audience that she had chosen our local legend, Dwight Trible and flown in the daughter of legendary Oscar Brown Jr, from Chicago, (Maggie Brown), to be her very first concert participants in this unique series.
To open, Price, Brown and Trible perched on bar stools and took questions from the audience. Maggie told us her father had seven children, three wives, not at the same time, (the crowd chuckled),and that she had been singing and performing since childhood. During high school, Maggie recalled playing the part of the wicked stepmother in a musical about “Cinderella.” She told us how amazed her dad was by her developing talent. She also shared that her father had written two songs for his children. One was for Oscar Brown the third titled “The Snake“ that his father composed about a frozen snake that was taken in from the cold by a kind-hearted woman. For the birth of one of his daughters, he composed another song and named it for me; “Maggie.” She told us proudly.
Dwight told us Oscar Brown Jr was one of his heroes, mentors and he considered him a friend. They would hang out each time Oscar came to Los Angeles to perform. He recalled first seeing him on the popular TV show, “Jump Street” and how he went to see him at the now defunct, Vine Street Bar & Grill, formerly owned and managed by Ron Berinstein. Trible also enjoyed concerts by Brown at The Jazz Bakery.
Price shared that every time Oscar Brown Jr sang his “Column of Birds” composition, it made her weep. Later in the evening we would experience an amazing rendition of that master composition sung dynamically by Trible.
Percussionist extraordinaire, (Breeze Smith), began the show, spinning a bell into the air, sliding sound from the side of his cymbal and creating a solo performance of percussive sound and mastery. He was both improvisational and inspired. Bassist, Trevor Ware, recited a piece/a prayer about “hope”. This acted as a bridge between the percussion and the poem where the others could march across with a cacophony of free-form jazz, including Trible’s melodic screaming and moaning in his own inimitable way. Soon we could make out the beautiful melody and lyrics to “All Blues.” This opening tune was followed by “Brother, Where Are You?”, again performed with a unique arrangement that featured a strong groove. Ware, opened the next tune, bowing his big, brown bass with expected precision and excitement. This tune was “Brown Baby” and after Trible sang one verse, Maggie Brown moved stage center and took over at the microphone. Her only accompaniment was Ware’s magnificent upright bass, drums and flute, played sensitively by the great Charles Owens. After the song, Maggie Brown told us that it was her intention to present an OBJ Festival in 2016, a year that would have celebrated her father’s 90th birthday. She performed “Black Stars” with a funky blues arrangement that soon made a quick change into straight-ahead swing, with Ware’s bass walking prominently all over the tune, putting a capital ‘S’ into ‘Swing’. She and Trible performed “Rags and Old Iron” and Trible tore the house down with his rendition of “Living Double, In A World of Trouble.” John Beasley, as always, dominated the stage with his extraordinary piano talents. He and Trible performed a sensuous and amazing duet on Oscar Brown Jr’s “Column of Birds.” It was breathtakingly beautiful. The audience was captivated and absolutely quiet during this song as though we had all taken a collective gasp and forgot to exhale. Drummer, Paul Lagaspi got to show off his talents on the “Snake song”. The set ended with “Afro Blue” showcasing all the skills of the master musicians on-stage and sung by both Maggie Brown and Dwight Trible. A standing ovation demanded an encore and Ruth Price’s opening concert, celebrating Southern California’s historic jazz scene, was a bountiful success. I look forward to the series’ upcoming performances by Hubert Laws, Ernie Andrews with the John Clayton Orchestra, Poncho Sanchez and the Alan Pasqua Trio. Stay tuned.