Sebastian is producing what he calls “The Jazz Master Series” which this month featured John Wooton on Steel Drums. I had never heard of or heard Wooton, and had never heard serious Jazz attempted on steel drums, so since my Boo, who prefers dance music, was out of town I decided to drop by “Sweet's” and check out the set, based on Ricky Sebastion's reputation, that of Chris Severin who was to be on bass and Steve Masakowski scheduled to play guitar on the set. An evening with that trio of consummate creative professionals would have been enough for me to settle in for a set.
Well when I took my seat, that's what it was, trumpeter Leon Brown (Kid Chocolate) was a bit late due to a late plane so I did get to hear these three do their thing. Ricky is always creative unpredictable and precise keeping time, Steve Masakowski guitar style is kind of like a woman singing alto, beautifully expressive but without cheap acrobatics. leaning on the beauty and complexity of chords rather that the theatrics of high end string picking. And Chris Severin used every inch of that seven string instrument Fender made and named for him. I don't know if “bass” evev adequately describes the instrument or his solos, as they both go in and out of the tonal range of a regular guitar.
As the feature, John Wooton certainly demonstrated his mastery of the steel drums and other percussion, and even got into a little call and refrain with trumpeter Leon Brown who arrived on stage shortly after Wooton. It was really interesting hearing steel drums incorporated into a modern jazz set, very creative and enjoyable. Steel drums are so distinctive that everything played with them has that Caribbean flavor, but I really enjoyed the set as did the rest of the audience. I paid particular attention to Wooten when he played the snares and other percussion as a more familiar frame of reference and he can really play.
I had never heard “Kid Chocolate” before but I will hear him again. Man we produce some bad ass trumpet players in New Orleans, but it was encouraging that he came in from out of town because we have so much talent. We seem to be too small and to poor to pay them all what they are worth, but New Orleans is brand you can sell all over the world.