At the Avalanche Bar & Grill 275 8th Street, Courtenay

January 19th at 7:30pm

Loose Gravel

Members $10 - non members $12

Loose Gravel comprises recognized musicians playing largely from the West Coast Cool school of jazz, but without the sound of a piano or guitar. After a couple of years of playing together these somewhat disparate (some might say desperate) personalities have forged a musical unit that rests comfortably on the ear, yet challenges the usual jazz combo line-up.

On the front line of Loose Gravel is band-leader Tony Morrison, bringing a multi-reed tool kit of saxophones and flute. Tony is familiar to local audiences across a wide range of styles from big band work to solo horn.

"We've basically taken as a kicking off point the Gerry Mulligan Quartet material from 1952-3," says bassist James Lithgow. That quartet featured Mulligan on baritone sax, Bob Brookmeyer on trombone, Bob Whitlock bass and Chico Hamilton on drums. There are differences large and small between the original Mulligan band and today's Loose Gravel. "Whitlock had a pencil thin mustache but we don't have one of those", says Lithgow, "but we stole the idea of no piano or guitar holding down the harmony".

Multi-instrumentalist Oscar Robles joins Lithgow as the other half of the rhythm section. Robles brings not just jazz drumming skills but a real wealth of experience from Flamenco, Blues, Funk and World-Beat. While percussion is his main role in Loose Gravel, Robles is also well known for his flamenco guitar and electronica using the Stick, a multi-stringed instrument. "We keep Oscar on the drum stuff as our format choice, but because he plays so many other instruments he's expressive on any percussion from the standard kit to dinner cutlery", says Lithgow.

Trombonist Jeff Agopsowicz (with Nick La Riviere is half of the Victoria-based Trombone Mayhem) is back in town after several months working in the Mediterrean. Jeff is a recent transplant to the north island, who cut his musical teeth with the military's Naden Band. He has become well known to local audiences in a short time for his abilities to play in any style.

All the players have many years in larger and even smaller ensembles, and relish the opportunity to dig deeper into the melodic content of familiar tunes but with the unusual setting of the piano-less Loose Gravel.

"We stick fairly close to original arrangements, but leave a lot of room for melodic and harmonic spontaneity", says Morrison. Not confined to West Coast Cool the band does mine earlier and later jazz eras for their material to include tunes by the likes of Sidney Bechet, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus and Duke Ellington. "All Certified Organic terrific tunes", Morrison adds.

Please browse the Calendar page of the website to see the full line-up of acts between now and the end of May to discover the amazing range of performances you can experience without leaving the Comox Valley. We really have become a jazz destination for many out-of-town artists, and you have the opportunity to expose yourself to live jazz on a weekly basis. You'll be glad you did.

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