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An audience for jazz finds its way

REVIEW: Jazz Café @ Triumph

Saturday, June 29, Warren Vaché Quartet

As it happened, this past Saturday evening In Red Bank was a perfect storm of culture, politics and traffic jams.  Despite the NJ Symphony’s venture into Marine Park, with all 96 members in tow, and the crowds heading to the concert taking up virtually every parking space for miles; and President Biden being at a fundraiser nearby at the governor’s house—with all the street closures and tumult that ensues—the audience for jazz found its way to Triumph Restaurant & Brewery for the kickoff weekend of the nonprofit Jazz Arts Project’s 2024 Summer series: Jazz Café @ Triumph.

These shows are now held in Red Bank’s Triumph Restaurant & Brewery in the west wing event room.  We are ushered into a beautiful space on the main floor, while overflow patrons are escorted to a secret upstairs mezzanine boasting ideal views of the stage and allowing the audience to fully immerse themselves in the music.  This event is more like an intimate concert with table service rather than a bar with good music.  And this ain’t no “ball and a beer” joint either.  Triumph has an elevated food menu along with signature cocktails and specialty brewed beer available from a friendly wait staff. I had the scallops and tomato risotto along with my usual espresso martini (or three) and I was a happy camper.

But wait, there’s more… The music!  Warren Vaché and his band of A-list musicians brought their A-game and delivered an unforgettable evening of jazz. Warren, a world-renowned jazz musician, showcased his incredible talent, led his band through a swinging journey of great music, and captivated the audience with his soulful cornet.  The evening included so many classic jazz standards such as Duke Ellington's “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore”, "Cherokee" by Ray Noble and other classics like "Blues Walk" by Clifford Brown.  You can’t help but swing, sway, smile, and tap your foot when you hear these guys.  

Joining Warren was Eddie Monteiro on accordion, Harry Allen on tenor sax, and Earl Sauls on bass.  The combination was just right for this room and occasion.  Eddie Monteiro, with his Midi-enabled electronic accordion, was able to produce the most interesting harmonic underpinning accompaniment to all of Warren’s flights of fancy along with his own inspired solos that utilize just about every conceivable sound combination you can think of.  It’s as if he has his own symphony orchestra in his pocket to call to the stage at a moment’s notice.  Jazz Arts Founder and Artistic Director Joe Muccioli said “Eddie is the ONLY accordion player I would ever hire.”

The indefatigable Harry Allen held down the tenor chair with inspiring solos, and bassist Earl Sauls kept them all walking in a straight line all the way to swingsville.

Warren and the band also played several tunes by Brazilian composer Antônio Carlos Jobim, such as the famous “Corcovado” (The Girl from Ipanema) and "One Note Samba." It was impressive to hear Eddie Monteiro sing these song choruses fluently in the original Portuguese, adding an authentic and unique touch to the performance.  One particular highlight of the evening was a beautiful little French tune called “Domino”.  The tune evoked such feelings, like echoes of Paris. With Eddie’s sweet Parisian-style accordion the tune transported the audience to a different time and place. It was a truly magical moment that left a lasting impression on everyone in attendance.  Finally, the set ended with a tune written by Billy Strayhorn but is directly out of the Duke Ellington band book.  A tune that Warren said was the national anthem of jazz, “Take The A Train.”

This series was inaugurated by Jazz Arts Project 19 years ago and has been a popular regional favorite ever since. Traditionally, it was presented as a weekly two-night “sit-down”.  (Anytime the same band plays for more than a one-night gig in the same venue, it is referred to, in cool musician lingo, as a sit-down.)  It’s a good thing, though, because the room was sold out both nights.  The organization produces many jazz-related events throughout the year and uses the proceeds to fund transformative music education programs for area youth.

Overall, the weekend performance of Jazz Café @ Triumph was a night filled with exceptional music and top-notch talent. Warren Vaché and his band delivered a memorable performance that left the audience wanting more. It was truly a night to remember for any jazz music enthusiast. There are three more weekends for the Jazz Café @ Triumph, and you won't want to miss it—believe me—you will be in for a treat.

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