Pianist Ed Vodicka switched from piano to B-3 organ for an invigorating evening of jazz at Catalina’s. He picked top-flight cohorts; Plas Johnson on tenor sax, Nolan Shaheed on trumpet, guitarist John Chiodini and drummer Roy McCurdy.
“On Broadway” became a sly toe-tapper, with something for everyone. Vodicka was his easy, laid back self, letting Johnson take center stage. Shaheed followed with a bright solo, full of nuance. Chiodini’s solo was relaxed, but still had plenty of sass. This “Broadway” meandered for a while, which the audience liked, Vodicka’s higher pitched organ was attention grabbing, as was Johnson’s sultry sax. Wow, can he play sexy! McCurdy and Chiodini held everything together with tons of technique, interesting fills and flourishes. Johnson was featured on “Please Send Me Someone To Love” and he made the most of it. Vodicka played the B-3 with a lot of down-home looseness, bluesy in that sad-happy way that some tunes have. Johnson’s style is measured, identifiable and emotional. He brings the audience into his world, by being so intensely good. Shaheed’s trumpet was pleasing, begging for attention with his clean clear tones, as he reached for the high notes. Vodicka got a solo going different effects at the B-3 and Chiodini added a fine blues element. Johnson came back, restrained and the crowd hung on to his every note. He was a master at work.
“I Feel Good” was another big tune, with excellent ensemble work from the group. They didn’t try anything fancy with the tune, just a fun and funky interpretation. A tune by Jobim (sorry I didn’t catch the title) was a nice change of pace, with intense percussive effects from McCurdy. Other great tunes the group did included “Time After Time,” a wonderful “Lover Man,” with the B-3 rumbling the room like crazy and Kenny Dorham’s “Lotus Blossom,” which will stick in my memory a long time, it was so damn good. The whole evening was really exceptional, as each player showed how distinctive and how talented they were. The audience cheered them on with a standing ovation. Nice, really nice. Check out Ed Vodicka next time her performs, piano or B-3, he’s good!