Battle of the saxes at Half Note Jazz Club

It promises to be a meeting of heavyweights at the Half Note Jazz Club (17 Trivonianou St, Mets, tel 210.921.3310) for a week beginning tomorrow with three long-serving and noteworthy brass players uniting as part of a sextet founded nearly a decade ago to pay homage to the late jazz legend Gerry Mulligan, arguably the field’s finest baritone saxophonist. Founded by Ronnie Cuber, a powerful baritone sax player who has been putting out excellent recordings for over two decades, the Three Baritone Saxophone Band also includes Howard Johnson and Scott Robinson, both with extensive backgrounds, as part of the act’s frontline brass section. Cuber’s collaborations have included work with Slide Hampton, Maynard Ferguson, George Benson, Woody Herman’s Orchestra, Frank Zappa and, more recently, regular performances with the Mingus Big Band. Rated as one of the leading tuba soloists since the early 60s, Howard Johnson’s versatility has allowed him to figure prominently on baritone sax as well as other reeds and trumpet. He has been linked with all-brass bands in the past, including the four-tuba group Substructure, which has worked with blues great Taj Mahal. Other acts included in Johnson’s extensive list of collaborations include Gil Evans, Charles Mingus, Archie Shepp, Jack DeJohnette and Jimmy Heath. Besides being a respected player of baritone sax, Scott Robinson, the frontline trio’s other member, has also built a reputation for using various unusual or forgotten types of saxophone, such as the contrabass sax or the C-melody sax. Cuber, Robinson and Johnson are sided by Kelvin Sholar on keyboards, Boris Koslov on bass and Mark Taylor on drums for the Three Baritone Saxophone Band. The venue’s agenda in coming weeks includes the Kirk Lightsey – Doug Sides Blues Trio (Jan 26 – Feb 1), and Mahmoud Fadl and the Drummers (Feb 2-8).

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