Last Friday Boo and I and a couple of friends caught Aaron Fletcher headlining at Sweet Lorraine's. Fletcher bills himself as “Smooth Jazz” which usually evokes a “ho hum” in terms of my excitement about hearing the music. However that description made him alright with bothe my wife and the other couple, who are not really “Jazz” fans. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy smooth, ready for lovemaking or while I'm working music, but when I consider a live Jazz performance, quite frankly I have some expectations of instrumental mastery and creative improvisation, of hearing something unique and charged with creative energy.
On alto and soprano saxophones, in spite of his “Smooth Jazz” billing, Fletcher did all of the above, but I guess, more by his choice of tunes than his approach, he played music that almost anyone could identify and get into, but then he took the audience on a trip that satisfied even my need to “hear what he could do” with his instrument and hear new variations on what were very familiar themes. So Fletcher kind of gets even novice Jazz listeners on board with some soft and sweet phrasing of tunes we can all hum, but then he takes you to the edge and back. Actually, I heard some really nice and intense solos from he and the top tier sidemen who joined him on stage.
Fletcher is one of our homegrown NOCCA trained talents who's gone out of the city all the way to the West coast to make a name for himself... and, you know, he kind of does the same with “Smooth Jazz”, leaves for a while, goes to the edge and then back. So calling him “smooth Jazz” may get more butts in the seats, but Aaron Fletcher can hang, no matter what they want to call it.