Posts Tagged ‘Sketches of Influences’

LIVE: Sketches of Influence @ Flights of Fantasy, 7/24/11

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011
Joe Barna

Joe Barna

Like many of his Nippertown compatriots, drummer-composer Joe Barna is not content to rest on his laurels.

Barna recently returned from a cruise ship gig, playing in a jazz band on a three-month tour at sea. While cruising, Barna didn’t just play the gig and retire to his cabin each night. He sat down and composed new material for his quintet, Sketches Of Influence.

The cruise ship evidently had a number of other bands on board, too – ranging from Latin music to pop – and Barna breathed it all in, learning and compositionally digesting every nuance.

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LIVE: Sketches of Influence @ the Massry Center, 3/17/11

Friday, March 25th, 2011
Lou Smaldone and Joe Barna

Lou Smaldone and Joe Barna

The Brian Patneaude Quartet was first out of the gate for “An Evening of Jazz” at the College of St. Rose’s Massry Center for the Arts in Albany. Patneaude’s tenor saxophone bobbed effortlessly over the beats laid down by long-time bandmate and drummer Danny Whelchel with the assistance of new bassist Mike Parker, who pulled double duty on acoustic upright and the electric bass. Exchanging solos with acoustic pianist and electric keyboardist David Caldwell-Mason on a handful of original tunes, Patneaude was leading one of his most melodically pronounced and distinctive quartets.

In contrast to Patneaude’s more stoic approach to jazz, Sketches of Influence’s bandleader and drummer Joe Barna hit the stage with the explosive energy and exuberance of a bull in a china shop. He wasn’t holding back, and he wasn’t about to make this just another run-of-the-mill jazz gig. No way, no how.

This was his CD release party, and Barna was out to energize the audience with his infectious enthusiasm for the band that he had assembled on stage and for the release of his newest CD, “Blowin’ It Out,” a tour-de-force that bridges the gap between the old and true Blue Note live recordings of decades back and the new vitality of the contemporary hard-bop jazz on the scene today.

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Cool Factor 10: Joe Barna

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Joe Barna

If there’s one thing everyone can agree on about Joe Barna, it’s that he’s driven. It’s all in the eyes, especially when he’s behind a drum kit backing up his band Sketches of Influence. I’ve described Barna as a combination of Tony Williams and Animal from “The Muppet Show,” mainly because when Barna’s eyes get Animal-big, you know something highly explosive is about to happen.

That said, how does a drummer whose unofficial motto used to be “This kit goes to 11” put together a disc like “Blowin’ it Out” – with no drum solos?

“Confidence and maturity,” he told me as we sat in the café at Borders in Clifton Park. “I don’t need people to stare at me any more. I don’t have to take my anger out on my musicians any more. The drums are there to create texture and feel. They’re not there to be heard unless someone’s playing something. I wrote it all, what more can I do? I’m a composer, not a drummer.”

It’s kind of a shocking statement coming from someone as closely-associated with a single instrument as Barna is. And the seriousness in his statements definitely belies his past image as someone who was as much about clowning on stage as he was about playing the gig.

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