LIVE: Bria Skonberg Quintet @ A Place For Jazz, 11/7/14

November 17th, 2014, 4:00 pm by Greg
Bria Skonberg (photo by Rudy Lu)

Bria Skonberg (photo by Rudy Lu)

Review by J Hunter
Photographs by Rudy Lu, Andrzej Pilarczyk

Trumpeter Bria Skonberg lives “Hot Jazz,” a euphemism for jazz created and inspired by the late, great Louis Armstrong. Along with having an annual “Hot Jazz” festival right in her childhood backyard and appearing on Wycliffe Gordon’s Armstrong tribute Hello, Pops, the native of Chilliwack, British Columbia (“The jazz metropolis of Canada,” she informed us) is a volunteer at the Louis Armstrong Museum in Corona, Queens. I didn’t see her when I visited the museum last year, but if I had, I’m pretty sure I’d have gotten chapter and verse on Satch’s most colorful life. For Skonberg, making that music live and breathe his her mission. Louis invented it, and then he perfected it, so that settles it, right?

Now, for most of the near-full house at A Place For Jazz, a player like Skonberg is a breath of fresh air – as is her skin-tight backup band, all of whom are down with the “WWLD” (What Would Louis Do) program, right down to reedman Evan Arntzen’s slicked-up hairdo and skinny bowtie. What this group did over two bright, lively sets is right in this concert series’ wheelhouse, and choosing Skonberg to close the 2014 season was a stroke of genius on the part of APFJ’s brain trust. Mind you, for those of us who prefers this music’s future over its past, this was a glimpse of what it might be like if Jazz At Lincoln Center had a summer camp in the Catskills where teenagers re-created the genre’s “good old days.” Not good, right? Well… yes and no.

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LIVE: Bria Skonberg @ the Van Dyck, 7/25/14

August 1st, 2014, 3:00 pm by Greg
Bria Skonberg

Bria Skonberg

Review and photographs by Rudy Lu

Dixieland jazz in the 21st century. Bria Skonberg and her quartet showed us an updated version of this revered form during their performance at the Van Dyck in Schenectady last weekend.

Hailing originally from Chilliwack, British Columbia and now headquartered in Brooklyn, trumpeter-vocalist Skonberg led her quartet through an hour-and-a-half set of standards, covers of late ’60s classics and original tunes.

After opening with Harold Arlen’s “Get Happy,” she followed with “Comes Love,” a tune associated with Billie Holiday, and Skonberg established herself as strongly within the jazz tradition. She followed with Joni Mitchell’s “ Big Yellow Taxi” (with scat-like singing of many of the lyrics) and John Lennon’s homage to his mother, “Julia.” “Six More Weeks” was a sultry original featuring Skonberg on vocals.

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