Chris Brubeck’s Triple Play don’t do a show, per se. What they do is they play music, have way too much fun doing it, and you get to watch. These guys really dig playing with each other, and the resulting sense of unbridled joy took the anchor event of Saratoga ArtsFest to a really special place. The good-time vibe was accented by the fact that this was a homecoming of sorts: Triple Play recorded their first disc at Skidmore; Brubeck has done a stint as a visiting professor; and guitarist Joel Brown just happens to be Dean of Skidmore’s music department. The trees on the other side of Zankel’s wonderwall of glass added a lovely environmental element that blended perfectly with Triple Play’s distinctive brand of “roots music.”
Old School Brubeck fans perked up immediately as the trio opened with the semi-ragtime sounds of “Polly,” but jazz is only part of Triple Play’s attack. The too-funked-up-for-words original “New Stew (Opus 2)” is a foot-tapping country-blues breakdown of King Curtis’ “Memphis Soul Stew”, and while their take on Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads” may have Cream’s hard-charging tempo, but Brown’s guitar and Peter Madcat Ruth’s harmonica brought the piece most of the way back to the original.