|Blake Angelos with Cory Weeds|
Photo by Rev Meredith Ann Murray
WJMAC: Blake Angelos with Michael Glynn and Julian MacDonough
Wednesday, November 12th
This is the third performance I have seen at the new Whatcom Jazz Music Arts Center a.k.a. Downstairs at the Majestic. The common element in each performance has been drummer and founder of WJMAC, Julian MacDonough. Julian is always excellent. He is easily one of the, if not the, most talented drummers in town. He also has a great sense of humor that often comes though in performance. However, up until now, perhaps wanting to convey the importance of WJMAC, he hasn’t entirely shown it up on the new stage. Until tonight.
Blake Angelos and Julian have played together for many years, most notably as the Blake Angelos Trio at the now defunct Chuckanut Ridge Winery/Ridge (today, the Redlight). In the time since, Blake has been performing an excellent solo gig at the the Bellwether on Friday and Saturday nights. It has been a couple of years since he and Julian have played together.
What is immediately apparent is how comfortable they are with each other. Blake and Julian seem to have a sort of weird twin language constructed out of slight nods, the raising of an eyebrow, winces, smirks and smiles. Michael Glynn is so quick and talented that he apparently needs no translation. The resulting music has a certain ineffable quality of lightness, of mastered ease, of effortlessness. It flows out and back in to the trio of musicians like breathing, the most natural thing in the world for each of these beings to be doing. Like watching a great dancer dance with abandonment and unconscious grace.
I couldn’t tell you what the names of most of the songs where. I really wasn’t listening to write anything like this review. And it has been a couple of weeks since, but the performance was haunting. It was good. What music is meant for. I do remember marking in my mind the aching and poignant piano playing by Blake on Lament by J. J. Johnson and then, the entire trio on Herbie Hancock’s Drifting.
It was in the Hancock piece that I saw Julian MacDonough perform laughter and joy on the drums. Listening, you could not help but smile. Through several solo drum breaks, he evoked a world of inventive rhythm: crickets chirping, hands playing fast patty cake, children jumping rope Double Dutch, the sound of Charlie Chaplin’s dancing rolls in the Gold Rush, the warped ticking of the clocks in a Dali painting. I could see Julian smiling, glancing over at Blake, each of them trading clever musical one-liners, inside jokes, knock-knock riddles and the shared simple experience of the joy of performing with the other. Certainly a privilege and a pleasure to witness. And, in my estimation, the most convincing argument to support the truly wonderful experience that is being brought to life downstairs at the Majestic.