Thursday night kicked off the newest edition to Baton Rouge’s regular music schedule with the first installment of a monthly Jazz Series at Mud and Water. Presented by the locally operated music blog, Jive Flamingo, the series aims to showcase young jazz artists from the surrounding area along with their modern compositions.
Featured musician for the night, Brad Webb, whose show was entitled “Making Faces,” put on quite the performance. An accomplished drummer and percussionist, Webb wowed the audience with his all-star lineup of young guns. LSU’s own Brad Walker, tenor sax; Regan Mitchell, alto sax; and Trey Boudreaux, bass; joined Webb and Doc Sharp, keyboard.
Multi-instrumentalist and Creative Director of Jive Flamingo, Ben Herrington (LSU Alumni ‘08) is the man responsible for the inception of this Jazz Series.
“It seemed like there was something missing from the Baton Rouge music scene,” Herrington said. “A place for jazz to be played in a somewhat informal setting.”
Jazz has been happening at a high level in the city, mainly through LSU, but also through the Jazz Masters Series at the Manship Theatre. However, these concerts tend to be arranged in a formal setting for the audience. Mud and Water offers a space where people have the option to saunter around with a drink, or sit and listen intently to the music.
“I just figured that this is the place to do it because you have an audience and a venue that wants to hear new music,” Herrington said. “And then you have these jazz musicians creating new music, and they need a place to play it.”
Acoustically, Mud and Water is the right fit for this series.
“It is a bar, but I think it’s more primarily a venue,” Herrington continued. “For a jazz setting, the smallness of the venue is actually an advantage. It just happens to be a perfect sized room for jazz.”
The house was packed on Thursday night with 65 paid attendees. For the start of a series that might not be the most digestible genre of music, it’s future looks promising.
“It serves me personally, as well as many other musicians here, by inspiring and challenging us,” Herrington said.
The benefits of having a series like this extend beyond income for the musicians or Mud and Water.
“For me, I like to hear music that opens my mind to something that I haven’t thought of before, and I think that’s what a vibrant art scene needs,” Herrington said. “It needs elements that are expanding the boundaries of thought. We need artists that are pushing us to a different level …The jazz that I think we’re going to hear in the series has a lot of dynamics and emotional intensity that really grabs you … And I think it’s because these younger jazz musicians are influenced by a lot of styles.”
Webb saw the talk of Jive Flamingo and he was excited to be the first artist to walk the walk.
“The music that I write has complex emotions, and all of those come with certain reactions from humans,” Webb said. “You know, you react differently to different situations, emotionally and physically.”
Addressing his concert title, “Making Faces,” Webb said, “I’d like to say that it’s way deeper than it really is, but it’s not. My mom actually says I make terrible faces when I play drums. On a surface level it’s just that. On a deeper level, the music brings different emotions, happy, sad, loss, failure, distress.”
Webb’s presentation of his music is even more impressive when one realizes that every idea came from the mind of the drummer, the only musician in the group whose instrument lacks definitive pitch.
Webb and his group certainly fulfilled Jive Flamingo’s aim for the night.
“I see this series serving the purpose of pushing the music scene that is already established in Baton Rouge,” Herrington said.
“What they’ve created here with this series is something that garners respect,” Webb added. “We’re going to do this because we know that people are going to show up, and people want this, and the bands that are going to play are going to deliver.”