Miller, a generation younger than these two long-time scene vets, is a quick study, and he slides into a medium up-tempo groove against Gertz’s walk and the dotted rhythms of Kaufman’s snare and cymbal. Miller’s light, shimmery tone is shadowed in reverb; that adds yet more “room sound” to the band, and as his solo builds, he rises to his feet from the stool he’s been sitting on and hits a couple of dirty rock chords. Kaufman solos, going heavily to the bass drum for the first time, kicking its asymmetrical heartbeat thumps against his snare figures; then he slides back into the groove as the band finish on a sustained-chord coda.
The night is almost all standards, chosen on the spot. They take “All the Things You Are” in 3/4, Miller opening with an unaccompanied intro, pick in his mouth, finger-picking a Cubist breakdown that’s as much Bach as Hammerstein and Kern. Gertz comes in with the ostinato rhythm; Kaufman moves between brushes and sticks, then lays out, Gertz tilting the syncopations against Miller’s chords, Kaufman returning with some double-time brush patterns on his snare.
On Horace Silver’s “Peace,” Kaufman lays out except for an index-finger cymbal crash at the end of each chorus, Gertz playing furious counterpoint to Miller’s melodies. There’s a medium up-tempo “Have You Met Miss Jones?”, a hard-grooving “Alone Together,” and a blues that no one can name, one of Sonny Rollins’s two-note motivic marvels, Miller fracturing off into flurries of 16th notes. Miller’s own “Spark” (based on “I Got Rhythm” changes) is a fast bebopper, the guitarist bending the last note of the phrase with a “wah” and taking a furious duet with Kaufman.
The drums are unmiked, you can hear every note (even that quiet one-finger cymbal hit), and the air conditioning works. Bergonzi and Guerrero are scheduled to return for the June 25 show — but for $10 it will probably be worth hearing whoever shows up. No matter what’s happened with the Celtics.
KGBG | June 25 | FRED WOODWARD TRIO | June 26 | Lily Pad, 1353 Cambridge St, Cambridge | 617.395.1393 or www.Lily-Pad.net