The other night at The Seasons, I heard four nineteen-year-olds and was impressed. One of
them, the alto saxophonist Logan Strosahl, has been intriguing me for a couple of years. The others, who comprise The Uptown Trio, were new to me except for the bassist, Jeff Picker, whom I had previously heard with Strosahl.
All are beneficiaries of extensive high school jazz education and winners of prizes for excellence, all freshmen at prominent institutions of learning. Strosahl, from Seattle, is wrapping up his first year at the New England Conservatory in Boston. Picker, from Portland Oregon, is at the Manhattan School of Music, along with drummer Jake Goldbas of Hartford, Connecticut. The pianist, Sam Reider is a San Franciscan who attends Columbia University in New York. Anyone keeping a future file would do well to add those names. If these players keep developing at their current pace and intensity, it is likely that we’ll be hearing from them.
At The Seasons, they were equally adept in standard pieces and in–or on the border of–free playing. Strosahl has remarkable energy, technique and harmonic acuity. He tore up Dizzy Gillespie’s “Anthropology.” Following an ingenious Reider introduction, Strosahl electrified the house in his exploration of Matt Dennis’s “Everything Happens To Me.” In “The Disintegration,” the Uptown Trio was impressive in its ability to achieve abstraction without sacrificing continuity and form, then Strosahl melded with them as the piece morphed into a blues for a powerful quartet effort that ended the concert.
I have been unable to locate an internet sample of Strosahl’s playing, but on The Uptown Trio’s MySpace page, there are four performances including “The Disintegration.” Picker, Reider and Goldbas are businessmen as well as players, an essential attribute for survival in the twenty-first century jazz trade. On their own, they have lined up a month-long tour with appearances in major west coast jazz clubs including Yoshi’s in San Francisco, Kuumbwa Jazz in Santa Cruz and Catalina in Los Angeles. The schedule is on their MySpace page.
Another name for that future file: Nick Sokol, a young tenor saxophonist whose band has the unusual instrumentation of tenor and alto saxes, piano and drums; no bass. Sokol opened for Strosahl and the Uptowners with a four-part suite that ranged from lacy, vaguely Oriental, impressionism through free four-way improvisation to Brahmsian gravity. The piece had style and texture. I’d like to hear it again.