Saturday, July 18, 2009

The New Tricks Quartet, Nighttown, 16 July 2009

Mike Lee and Ted Chubb, two mainstays of the New York jazz scene who have roots in Northern Ohio, played Nighttown last Thursday with their four-piece band The New Tricks Quartet. They performed two solid sets of jazz in the late 50's and early 60's styles of artists like Paul Desmond and Chet Baker.

Lee, a Cleveland Heights native who has been in New York since the early 90's, is a gifted reed player. Chubb, originally from Ashtabula, plays horn and has background similar to Lee, gravitating to New York after college at Ohio State. They are joined in the New Tricks Quartet by Kellen Harrison on bass, and Shawn Baltzasar on drums.

Both sets were filled with original songs that allowed all four musicians to show off their talents. Each selection was introduced by either Lee or Chubb, who composed almost all of them. "In his Steps" is a tribute to John Coltrane; "J'.'s Other Bag" sounds a lot like a Paul Desmond composition; and "Absence" a romantic ballad Chubb wrote for his wife and the time they send apart when he is on the road as a musician. All of the songs featured solos from each of the band members, with Lee alternating from saxophone to clarinet. It was quite evident that while these guys were growing up and their classmates were busy listening to Motley Crew and Judas Priest, they were getting into their parents' record collections and enjoying the likes of Dave Bruebeck and John Coltrane.

It was a very good evening of jazz, by four musicians who really know how to play it. The compositions were smart and original, and the musicianship was solid. They have a new CD that was just released, also called "New Tricks." You can check out more about them at

Another gifted Clevelander Alvin Frazier brings his seven piece band to Nighttown on Saturday, July 25; jazz singer Barbara Rosene plays the club on Sunday, July 26; and singer/songwriter/musician Maia Sharp rolls in on August 12. Check out the complete lineup at