But Powell has been endorsed by everyone from former Berklee string-department chair Matt Glaser to jazz demigod Joe Lovano (who also happens to be a Berklee prof), and at Scullers he surrounded himself with a veteran band: pianist Tim Ray, bassist Bob Neske, and drummer Bob Tamagni. And it was one sweet, satisfying show. Powell does have chops to spare — and personal charm. He and the band swung with relaxed confidence through 11 tunes, most by guitarist Reinhardt and violinist Grappelli. Powell had speed, articulation, and a rich tone. On his self-released Light, his sound is a bit bright, but at Scullers it had a rounded darkness. There was a swooping romanticism to much of his phrasing, but you couldn't fault his swing, his varied lines, or his imagination as he changed attack with each new chorus. It was all abetted by his deft handling of harmonics, pizzicato detours at top speed, and melodic contours.
He also knows how to pace a live show. There was plenty of 4/4 swing, but also the Latin beat of Tizol & Ellington's "Caravan" and a beautifully played Reinhardt bolero. Five tunes in, he brought up as a special guest electric-guitarist (and fellow Berklee student) Lee Dynes, who added a contemporary flavor. A couple of tunes later, it was Parisian Jonathan Joubert (another Berklee-ite), playing an acoustic and creating the manouche "pompe" rhythm in synch with the swish of Tamagni's brushes. Yes, these were all standards to one degree or another. But Powell goes after them with a hungry sense of discovery.
BENNY SHARONI | Chianti Tuscan Restaurant and Jazz Lounge, 285 Cabot St, Beverly | November 19 at 9 pm | free | 978.921.2233 or chiantibeverly.com
, Berklee College of Music, Miles Davis, Gil Evans, More