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Scheirer jazz quartet demonstrates tight ensemble

Eric Scheirer Quartet

AMP Recital.

Killian Hall, Feb. 28.

By Bill Purves

Eric D. Scheirer G and friends entertained more than 100 appreciative fans in an outstanding AMP jazz concert at Killian Hall last Wednesday. Trombonist Scheirer, pianist Michael Valdez and drummer Ali Azerbayejani have long been mainstays of the MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble. They were joined for this concert by drummer James W. Davis G, Scheirer's colleague at the Media Laboratory. They made a tight, well-rehearsed ensemble.

Scheirer and Valdez handled most of the solo chores. Both are technically very adept, but their early solos exhibited a bit of nervousness as they tried too hard to reach for inventive harmonic intervals in their ad-lib solos. Happily, their third number was a straight-ahead blues which gave everyone a chance to relax and shed all pretensions. After that, everyone's solos were impressive.

Bass and drums were less remarkable. Ali J. Azerbayejani G had a lovely stand-up bass sound, but broke out of a straight walking style only on the last number of the set. Davis seemed to have brought only one set of sticks to the event. Even though Davis kept impeccable time, he failed to get into the action and drive the band - even on the Latin original, which should have been his feature.

The program was a mix of about equal parts jazz standards and originals by members of the band. Scheirer demonstrated great facility for an amateur trombonist and beautiful tone on the ballad standard "Everything Happens to Me." Valdez showed terrific creativity in his solos, and a fine use of dynamics to emphasize his ideas.

The Institute offers plenty of free concerts these days, but this was one well worth a special effort to hear. Catch these guys in a different setting at next weekend's MIT Student Jazz Festival at Kresge.