Random acts

Of note

Hip parade: Local hip-hop promoters Smush Factor have recently announced plans to release their second compilation album. The group has strong ties to several local hip-hop artists, including GFE and Philo. For more info, visit Smush Factor on-line at www.smushfactor.com.

Up and running: The Asheville Music Coalition has a new Web site. The group, formed by local acoustic player Robert DiMaio earlier this year, is a collective of musicians working to “promote consciousness, creativity and connectivity in the local music scene.” The group also plans to release a compilation CD later this year. For more info, visit www.ashevillemc.net.

Front-row reviews

What: Take ‘n Back Quartet

Where: Vincent’s Ear

When: Saturday, Aug. 3

I own 11 John Coltrane CDs. Why? Because they were free. How often do I listen to them? Less often than once-in-a-blue-moon. It goes without saying that I’m no jazzhead. However, I have moods where my Lionel Hampton and Charles Mingus CDs get some serious play.

One of the best things about the Take ‘n Back Quartet is that even those who’ve not yet “acquired a taste” for jazz can listen and enjoy themselves. You’re not going to get a 17-minute version of “My Favorite Things.” On the other hand, you will get the choice of listening attentively or just letting the music work as a nice backdrop for conversation. The crowd at Vincent’s Ear was definitely in attentive-listening mode. In fact, the silence was almost unnerving.

In all fairness, I was there that night because I was tending bar, so I wasn’t able to devote myself fully to the show. But here’s what I will note: You have to give props to a group that can play for one-and-a-half hours without a break — and in a balmy, non-air-conditioned room, no less. The first set was sans bass, but the guitar, drums and saxophone combination seemed to give band members an opportunity to color outside the lines. There were a few moments that sounded like B-movie-soundtrack music, but the longer they played, the more the music gelled.

Guitarist Sam Macy was consistent and drummer Taylor Davis had finesse — but sax man Philip Whack was the star of the show. Solid and entertaining, he didn’t seem to be intentionally outshining his fellow players, but his ability to do so carried over into the second set.

And by the time the band had launched into that long, uninterrupted second set (with bassist Mike Holstein this time), a new crowd had begun to arrive — and they were much-more vocal in their appreciation. The music reflected this — the band’s energy increased during this set, and they started having more fun. At one point, the sax player blew out a riff from The Wizard of Oz, and later a bit of the “Sanford & Son” theme. Nice to see the lack of pretension.

If your favorite song is the 45-minute version of “Ascension — Edition II,” Take ‘n Back will disappoint you. However, if you just want to go out and have a good time listening to music that doesn’t require earplugs, this is your band.

Top threes

Top-three performers who should retire:

• Celine Dion (she supposedly already did, but no such luck)

• Cher (thank the gods this is her last tour)

• The Rolling Stones (I love ’em, but puuhhleeze)

[Bo Post is a free-lance photographer and lover of opinions. She will be sharing hers with Mountain Xpress readers during the month of August as she writes Random Acts (giving Steve Shanafelt a much-deserved vacation). You can soon view some of Bo’s work at www.Onionmusic.com]

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