Wednesday, October 3, 2018

THE JAZZ PIANIST ALEXIS LOMBRE WEEKLY RESIDENCY AT CLIFF BELS IS WORTH CHECKING OUT

Pianist Alexis Lombre
For a year or so, the word circulating around Detroit’s jazz scene is the jazz pianist Alexis Lombre is a serious talent, and after she gains more experience as a session leader and as a bandleader she could possibly fill the void in Detroit’s jazz community left by the death of the great jazz pianist and educator Geri Allen. That’s a tall order for Lombre to embrace, but Lombre embodies the passion for jazz and she’s certainly skilled. For those not yet familiar with the pianist, Lombre is a native Chicagoan and a senior at the University of Michigan. She’s studied under the great jazz pianist Benny Green, and she’s currently under the watchful tutelage of the Grammy-winning jazz bassist Robert Hurst. Lombre has been working professionally for seven years, and she’s earned a weekly residency at Cliff Bells, which was held for many years and made a coveted local gig by the dynamic jazz saxophonist Marcus Elliot. I caught Lombre’s show Tuesday evening, curious to discover if all the praised afforded her was deserved. Lombre performed with a marvelous trio bassist Brian Juarez and drummer David Alverez II, who’s Benny Green’s go-to drummer. Two numbers into the first set, I was sold on Lombre. Lombre open with a few cuts from her recording “Southside Sounds”. The depth of her chops was there for everyone to marvel over as her trio swung through “A Blues In Tyne,” and “Lonely Path,” a number she composed while still in high school. After Lombre got the audience going, the trio performed modernized interpretations of familiar oldies such as “Caravan,” and “Autumn Leaves”. The second set was also dynamic. Lombre invited a few special guests to the bandstand. There was some damn fine blowing from the promising jazz trumpeter Trunino Lowe, who’s building quite a name for himself around Detroit. Lombre never allowed the second set to morph into a jam session. The special guests mix perfectly with the trio’s chemistry. One of the many highlights was the trio’s rebranding of the Weather Report gem “Elegant People” and then seamlessly segueing into Herbie Hancock’s classic “Maiden Voyage”. Lombre is foremost a swinger. She’s also, an adept arranger and composer, and she possesses an abundance of stagecraft. Most importantly you can hear history in her playing as if she invested time pouring over the music of great jazz pianists such as Wynton Kelly, Bobby Timmons, Chick Corea, and Herbie Hancock. The praise Lombre has received in such a short time on Detroit’s jazz scene, I’m convinced, is well deserved.