Trio 200, Beaver Sessions (RIP) October 16 2023
Well, RIP to the Beaver sessions. Bummed to see it go, Sunday night jazz in the hockey bar. A nine year run, started and hosted by the awesome Max Holmberg. As he put it,
One more huge thank you to everyone who has been a part of the session and surrounding community over the last 9 years. It sounds like a lot of people made lasting friendships and connections here and that alone makes it all worth it. Things are always in a state of movement; here’s to what the future holds.
So many things to mourn about this loss. The sessions were so right in so many ways. As jazz gets more and more relegated to institutions, losing this venue really sucks. Case in point: look at the Earshot festival this year. 90% of the shows are in halls, not clubs. Jazz is meant to be in clubs, where you can get a drink, kick back, have a conversation if you want, play pool, watch the sports updates on the tv or focus on the music, but not be trapped in a seat in an auditorium with no booze and no freedom, pinned down. Jazz shouldn’t be relegated to the museums; it should live in bars, clubs, restaurants. The Angry Beaver was perfect for this music: the drinks weren’t too expensive, the atmosphere wasn’t too refined (it was a hockey bar after all), the vibe was casual.
And the format was dope. The hour set to start the sessions gave an unparalleled opportunity for groups of musicians to have a place to present an hour of their music, uninterrupted, unfiltered. So many nights of great opening sets by outstanding players, as good as anything you’ll find in any city, including the big apple.
The jam session itself always so random, players coming out of the woodwork to blow. And the quality bar (almost always) high, the level of musicianship in this town out of control, people keeping alive the tradition. Even when it wasn’t sounding so good, that’s the point – a place for people to play. And, you never know who might show up, like when Kamasi Washington rolled into the session in 2016 after his gig at the Showbox. Or who you might meet, to start a new band or make a new connection. The scene needs this type of environment, where spontaneity can happen.
On this final night, Trio 200 closed things out, sounding great. Cole Schuster was on fucking fire, sounding at his best. He has things dialed these days, his voice clear and strong, better than ever, distinct, with such a great mix of chords and one note lines, so often using pianistic techniques on the guitar (seconds and minor seconds), lots of quotes thrown in, just fluid, with clearly stated ideas, always in the pocket, relaxed. And his new axe/amp combo giving him a rounder, fuller sound, less treble than in the past. Greg Feingold, bassist, killing it as always, his solos super melodic. And Max Holmberg held things down on the kit. They played a bunch of tunes off their first CD, songs like Byrdlike and Smile.
Big crowd there, providing lots of energy. Kinda like when everyone show up at the funeral. Where were you when they were alive? Well, so be it. As Max wisely stated, things are always in a state of movement. So, while there may no longer be Beaver sessions on Sunday nights, may you all have great, in depth beaver sessions with whomever you choose. ;)