Jack and Ben Wright Duo

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Jack and Ben Wright Duo Live at The Tannex January 21st 2014 – A Free Jazz Concert Review

By Patrick DeBonis

           Jack Wright is an accomplished saxophonist and free jazz artist by himself but when you group him up with other talented musicians the experience is amplified tenfold.  This January, he visited The Tannex in Albuquerque, New Mexico to bless us with one of his unique performances.

          I awkwardly showed up late to the performance but successfully made my way inside with the help of two less ashamed concertgoers and somehow didn’t disturb anyone.  Almost immediately after becoming settled, I understood why no one noticed my arrival; everyone was too transfixed on Jack and Ben Wright to notice.  The crowed sat, stood, and drank coffee, but everywhere the overwhelming aura of musicians cluttered the room.  Everyone there was happy to be present and had come with a purpose.  This was not the kind of show that someone went into unprepared.

          As I stood and swayed in the back of the room I was slowly lost in the nonexistent rhythms coming from the saxophone and bass.  The two men fed off each other; lost in their own world.  They gave off the appearance that they could not tell people were even watching them.  As their set ebbed and flowed and finally ended I couldn’t have been more impressed by the seemingly accidental subtle coordination between the two instruments.  When Jack went one way, Ben went the other, like they were anticipating the next move and knew exactly how to counteract it.

          To wrap up the night, Jack Wright upped the ante.  He called to the front another concert bass player and a tubist, and again they started.  I was beyond delighted at the change of events.  I myself am a tuba player who has been trying to integrate myself into free jazz and had never imagined being able to see another tuba player perform in this setting.  The entire performance became quite a bit more intense with four musicians instead of just two.  Four different trains of thought melted in and out of each other exposing different sounds before one idea felt finished.  It was breathtaking.  I was completely lost in the sound.  I tried to guess where they would go next, but failed every time.  The entire room resonated with the irregular sounds; the acoustics of The Tannex were perfect that night.  Eventually the crowd was lifted from the trance when the final notes of the tuba faded away.

          After the show I made my way over to talk to the tuba player, Mark Weaver, to tell him how inspirational his performance had been.  It was refreshing to talk to an established tuba player for the first time in years.  The personal, homey feeling of The Tannex was perfect for a show like this.  As detached as the performers might have been something about the music held the audience closer on an intellectual level than what I am used to experiencing at concerts. It was wild.

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