The Dragon's Den
3 Now 4
February 22, 2004
BY JASON SONGE
Local modern jazz quartet 3 Now 4 should change their name.
The group recently lost two heavyweights in drummer Johnny Vidacovich and trumpeter Charlie Miller. Sometimes bands retain their signature feel when they substitute one musician for another, but this wasn’t the case Sunday night at The Dragon’s Den. They had a new drummer and saxophonist who couldn't pull the same weight as Vidacovich and Miller. Bassist James Singleton and Pedal Steel maestro Dave Easley would generate interest just as a duo, but if they’re trying to match the quality of the previous 3 Now 4, they’re failing.
That said--the music was still good enough to check out.
Things got spacey with the help of Easley’s high pitched harmonics, drawn-out sax notes, and Singleton’s looped bass lines. Singleton’s bow summoned yearning and sadness. Even though the drummer drowned out Easley with his superfluous snare strikes, Easley remained the rightful center of attention. When the band went from a post-bop frenzy into a one minute lull, his notes haunted the room.
One dreamy, sleepy song was a great remedy for a long day at the parades. The sax collided with the guitar to produce a swinging, dissonant, and beautiful noise.
Despite this success, it was obvious these four hadn't played together much. When the band improvised, the drummer and saxophonist weren’t confident enough to fill in the spaces left by Singleton and Easley. The band was more secure when they played written music; it allowed playful misdirection and a pop/groove element not evident in their improvisations.
When you’ve got Easley and Singleton, you can’t go wrong. When you add musicians not of their caliber, the two throw away their chance at excellence by playing simply good music.