Last weekend I had the pleasure of catching two nights of the Rob Wagner Trio with Hamid Drake and Nobu Ozaki. They played Sunday night at The Blue Nile, and Monday night at the Dragon’s Den. Monday also featured a guest appearance by Kidd Jordan.
It is always interesting and illuminating to get the chance to hear the same musicians multiple times in close temporal proximity. The similarities and differences can be quite enlightening. This is not a regularly working trio. They played a gig in New Orleans in December 2005, the night before the recorded their CD, and then did not play together again until June of 2007.
On Sunday, I only caught a few minutes of the first set, and most of the second set, because I was working down the street and could only get to the Blue Nile on our break, and then after my gig. Hamid had just flown in that day. The Blue Nile doesn’t have a very intimate vibe in its current layout, and the music seemed a touch tentative at times. I think some of it was the process of re-acquaintance, combined with the vibe of the room, and the day’s travel. Rob’s music can be pretty introspective, and tends to bob and weave more than all out burn, and it can take a while to get that vibe to settle in. As the gig progressed, I could hear the the trio finding each other.
Monday night at the Dragon’s Den was great. The night started with the trio plus Kidd Jordan. They did some improvised things, as well as one tune from the CD. Kidd sounded great, and his presence brought out some cool stuff in Rob. It pushed him to places he doesn’t usually go on his own. The second set consisted mostly of tunes from the CD, and the trio had found their good space. The Dragon’s den is a great sounding space, so I am sure that contributed to the night’s good feel as well. They graciously asked me to sit in towards the end of the night. It was a lot of fun.