Three nights

5LMN2, Revelation at the Beehive, and Geni’s shakuhachi
By JON GARELICK  |  July 17, 2007

PLENTY: Guitarist Jake Hertzog rocked Berklee night at the Beehive.

WFNX’s Jazz Brunch Top 5
1. Pink Martini, Hey Eugene [Heinz]
2. Sam Yahel, Truth and Beauty [Origin]
3. Spanish Harlem Orchestra, United We Swing [Six Degrees]
4. The Bad Plus, Prog [Heads Up]
5. Club D’Elf, Perhapsody [Kufala]
As usual, there was too much to see in a week that included venerable avant-gardist Burton Greene at one end of the spectrum and crossover darling Diana Krall at the other. Here are three other shows that provided good listening.

At Ryles on Saturday July 7, saxophonist Tim Mayer fronted 5LMN2, an outfit that had its inception at Wally’s in 1993 and has been around in one form or another ever since. The 5LMN2 agenda has been Afro-Latin jazz or standard jazz played in Latin arrangements. (The name, if you read it in Spanish, comes out as “five elements.”) In the middle set of three at Ryles, the band mixed it up with Cedar Walton’s “Bolivia,” Monk’s “Evidence,” Joe Henderson’s “Serenity” and “Inner Urge,” and Puerto Rican composer Pedro Flores’s standard “Obsesión.”

The Monk expert Steve Lacy once described all of Monk’s tunes as dances, so it was no surprise to see the band make the most of the displaced accents of “Evidence” with the 3-2 clave beat. Pianist Marcello Casagrandi emphasized rhythmic chording throughout the set, and he was so inventive in his change-ups that for a brief moment in his “Bolivia” solo he even threw off the otherwise imperturbable rhythm team of drummer Pablo Peña and conguero Paolo Stagnaro (son of Boston bassist Oscar). In the first couple of tunes, the details of Mayer’s tenor playing got buried in the heavy rhythmic mix (Fernando Huergo played electric bass), so it was good to hear him slice through on alto in “Evidence.” But he really came to the fore on Joe Henderson’s “Inner Urge,” clapping off the clave rhythm until piano came in with a repeating staccato cross-rhythm, then bass, then percussion, then finally tenor. Casagrandi built up to a staccato climax in his solo and then Mayer entered, slower and with lighter percussion underneath him, mixing up his phrasing, alternating short-phrased groupings and arpeggiated runs, reveling in a fat lower register that hadn’t been evident in the first couple of tunes, taking his time. It was beautiful. He was equally relaxed on the slow cha-cha-cha of “Obsesión” and on “Serenity,” which was a light rumba. There was plenty of abstraction in all of these, and plenty of rhythmic hurly-burly, but at their best, the band (who play Wally’s every Thursday night) reminded you why Afro-Latin jazz is so popular: they’re all dances, and the dance beat will draw you in no matter how far out the band take everything else.

The Beehive in the South End has been much, uh, buzzed about since opening a few months ago — a swank “bohemian” subterranean bar/restaurant (with one of the co-owners being Darryl Settles of Bob’s Southern Bistro) in the BCA complex with a no-cover live-music policy, heavy emphasis on jazz. Tuesdays have been “Berklee nights,” and last week (July 10) was the end of an eight-week run that featured bands from The New Old School on the student-run Revelation Records. As Boston singer-songwriter, Berklee prof, and series supervisor Thaddeus Hogarth told me between sets, “These are all bands, not just random groups of students we recruited.”

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