Serotonic, Infinite Groove Orchestra | Dunedin Brewery 02.08.14

A funny thing happened on the way to the Dunedin Brewery. Actually, I wasn’t QUITE on the way; I was taking one last look at Facecrack before heading out. I rarely pay any attention to that upper-right-hand column of what other people are doing, but out of the corner of my eye I saw: CHILLYBONE. Hold the presses! Really? I’ve known these two guys for years, both great players once part of a superb quartet who billed themselves as the Swinging Johnsons. I can’t verify the noun, but I’ll swear to the adjective; these guys were hot! And Palm Harbor is less than five miles from Dunedin! SCORE!

My Cousin Vinny’s Cigar Bar is as advertised, a gray haze permeating the atmosphere full of satisfied cigar connoisseurs. And in their midst were Daniel “Chilly Johnson” Harris on guitar and Tom “TBone Johnson” Hamilton on bass, doing what they do best: jazz standards. I only made it for the last set, but I was really glad to hear them again and to reconnect with friends. They sounded great and received nice applause throughout the set (maybe mine was a tad more raucous).

As we talked after the set, Daniel and Tom said they gave up playing “popular” music in favor of standards, and the reception has been great. Daniel said that these are songs they can approach with love and deliver likewise, and audiences appreciate that fact. This is truly encouraging.

After chatting, I jetted down to the Dunedin Brewery to see two of the very best jazz-funk (funk-jazz?) groups in the area: Serotonic and the Infinite Groove Orchestra. I was excited that TBone also decided to come check out what the “young boys” were putting down.

IGO lead off, and from the start they were on fire. This quartet has been on the scene for seven years, but they are making an even bigger splash now with the injection of Josh Formanek on guitar. They rock, they funk, they fusion, and they jazz (are those verbs?). The rhythm section of Jon Shea and Adam Volpe on bass and drums provide real muscle for their repertoire, and Jonathan Richardson’s keyboards offer a full array of colors. I was blown away that they attempted Mahavishnu’s “Miles Away” and truly thrilled that they NAILED IT.

Then it was Serotonic’s turn. This wasn’t an opener/headliner deal. These bands are equal in stature, and either could have gone first. In fact, it finally occurred to me just how much the local bands support each other. I know that this has been happening everywhere for a long time, but for me it was an epiphany, albeit one that had been coming for a while. Musicians openly supporting each other on line, going to see each other perform, working to share bills such as this one. It was an incredibly gratifying revelation to me. These people GET IT. There is strength in numbers. It’s cooperation, not competition. And TBone coming to see the next generation further confirmed it. I’m just glad I am along for the ride.

Full disclosure: I enjoy Serotonic so much that I have seen them more than a dozen times over the past 18 months and hired them to play my daughter’s wedding. This night’s performance was again first-rate. The quintet also benefits from the recent infusion of Jon Tucker on alto sax. Tucker’s animated performance does not overshadow his talent. What a great night!

I’ll say it again: I’m just glad I am along for the ride!


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