On my way to the Green Bench Brewery in St. Pete, I had a thought (it happens now and again). There weren’t many people out and about last Saturday when Future Vintage ripped a great, great set. I want to write a review of the Serotonic show tonight, thought I, but what if it’s, you know, nothing to write home about.
There are some thoughts so idiotic I just shouldn’t have them.
Serotonic tore it up for three solid hours. The night was beautiful, there were more patrons than the week before (how does Green Bench advertise its musical offerings?), and Serotonic had the best performance I’ve ever heard (and that was number 19, so…).
The three hour-long sets were interwoven with jazz standards, trusted originals and some great new tunes as well. And this night also seemed to be about interesting arrangements and re-arrangements of tunes that have been in their repertoire for a while. Take Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely?” for instance. It is certainly not my favorite Stevie song, but the quintet breathed new life into it, tailoring and altering it to make it fit just right. “Cantaloupe Island” and “Mercy Mercy Mercy” received due respect, working in and out of Serotonic tunes such as “Chickenfoot Sammy” and “Big Dirty.”
Drummer Andrew Kilmartin claims they haven’t been practicing, but you certainly wouldn’t know that from the tight, tight reading of “Come Together” that launched the second set. On a night of many highlights, their arrangement of Miles Davis’s “Nardis” was remarkable, by far the bitchin’est version I’ve ever heard; that’s the only way I could figure out how to describe it! Then, after a great Lettuce cover, “Breakout,” they slipped my favorite of their originals into the set list: “Rhinobelly” (thanks, boys!).
Jordan Garno must be taking guitar steroids or something, because he was lit up all night. Every solo was stinging and funky and somehow just perfect. And the dancing man, alto saxophonist Jon Tucker (nice shirt, Jon!), also had a great night and even sang later in the evening!
The second set also featured a new tune named “Lies the Truth” and a couple of relatively new ones, including “Think Fast” and “Cinotores” (just look at that one for a bit).
I never wrote the review of the show Serotonic did in Dunedin opening for Bernie Worrell in February, but it was going to start with this admonition to Bryan Lewis (keyboards): “Don’t tell Bryan, but this might have been the best Serotonic set yet (with a guest keyboard player)!” Lewis had a tremendous night all three sets, with some great colors and fills and numerous great solos. And never let it be said that I didn’t have a shout-out for a rhythm section. Once again, Robert Sanger and Kilmartin drove the funky jazz quintet through the St. Pete night.
If you want the perfect definition of the generation gap, by the way, here it is. There was only one song I didn’t like: the hip-hoppy thing after “Jelly.” “Getting’ It?” I didn’t care for the lyrics much either, but a much younger patron pointed out that it was, as Tucker made sure to quote him, “gangsta as f*ck.” So there you have it!
Just when it appeared that our wonderful evening was over, it wasn’t! Chris Trull, a bartender at Green Bench, and Frank Minton, a cat who just happened to come by, I think, sat in on drums and keyboards, respectively, for a great jam to close the night. Both of them were great players and dovetailed perfectly with Tucker, Garno and Lewis.
The perfect end to a perfect night. My favorite Serotonic set. Until the next one, anyway!
Great to see Rev. Funky De, who stopped by after Holey Miss Moley’s gig at 3 Daughters Brewery. Always wonderful to see Katy and Kelli-Ann, and wonderful to meet a recent transplant from New Orleans: Lisa, who has already started volunteering with WMNF and figuring out where the jazz is here! And Joc, my wife’s crazy dog, had a really great time meeting about ten other puppies!
[Setlist: SET 1: Salute, Cantaloupe Island, Strasbourg, Chickenfoot Sammy, Isn’t She Lovely?,Big Dirty, Mercy Mercy Mercy, Joyful Girl, Ophelia; SET 2: Come Together, Nardis, Breakout, Vapor, Lies the Truth, Cinotores, Think Fast, Steppin’, Sunday Morning, Valerie; SET 3: Molly Jane, Briana, Jelly, Getting’ It, Move So Well, Four on Six, Downstair Mix-up; ??]