Thursday, September 02, 2010

Lenny White at Yoshi's Oakland

My son David has started playing the drums this summer. My other son Ian had been playing for a while a couple of years ago. So when I read that Lenny White's new jazz-rock band featuring guitarist Jimmy Herring were going to be performing at Yoshi's in Oakland, I asked them if they wanted to go see one of the all-time great drummers, and they were agreeable.

The band was billed as Lenny White and Anomaly, which is the title of White's newest CD.

So I came home a bit early that afternoon (Wednesday, August 25) so that we could get across the bay in time to get some good seats and grab a bite to eat before the show.

As things were we didn't have to worry about seats, as the place was sadly only about 1/4-1/3 full. I was surprised that it wasn't better attended, but maybe I shouldn't be.

The music was pretty squarely in a electric guitar-soaked, technically adept, Return To Forever jazz-rock mode. I love this kind of stuff when it's played well, and this group played it well. At the base of it was Lenny White's drums driving it all along with power, finesse, and earthiness. Lenny is one of those ageless people that looks pretty much the same today in his early sixties as he did when I saw him with Return To Forever in his late twenties. The bassist, Richie Goods, locked in tight with Lenny. On keyboards was the very impressive Vince Evans.

On top of this were two electric guitarists. Jimmy Herring was the big draw for me - I've known of him for years through hearing him with Project Z and Jazz Is Dead, guesting on one of Derek Trucks' early albums, Out Of the Madness, and last year's Lifeboat, his solo debut.

The other guitarist was new to me - Tom Guarna - but I was very impressed. He can play this kind of stuff about as well as anyone I've heard.

It struck me as a bit odd that the band would feature two guitarists with such similar sounds and styles, but it worked.

Herring and McKellen-separated at birth?
Lenny White was amusing in some of moments of talking to the audience. He introduced Jimmy Herring and said he'd known of him for a while and had been pleasantly surprised by how good he was as Gandalf in Lord of the Rings. He teased Tom Guarna about having a Masters from Julliard. After his first drum solo, a rather sparse, subtle and low-volume performance on his kit over a simple repeating pattern from the band, he said "Now that's an anomaly -a quiet drum solo."

My sons thought it was a cool show. It went over better than when I took them here one Sunday afternoon many years ago when they were pretty small to see Bill Frisell.

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