The Rejects

The Dragon's Den

March 23, 2004

Bandleader/keyboardist Brian Coogan didn't show up, so his backing band re-christened themselves The Rejects and improvised a set. The band was bassist Peter Harris, drummer Martine Ornof, saxophonist Scott Bourgeois, bass saxophonist Samir Sarif, and saxophonist Rex Gregory.

All of their "songs" were improvisations, and considering Sarif and Gregory normally don't play with Coogan, they put on a hell of a show. The group had many tempo, meter, and key changes in each song, but they turned together on a dime. They enjoyed screwing with the arrangements and being out on a limb. The band decided a song was over when it went over ten minutes or it just felt right to wind down. They were looking for the beautiful through the trash the whole night. This wasn't danceable jazz. It couldn't keep a groove long enough. It was intellectual jazz. They went from hard bop to slow grooves to moderate swing excursions. It was ear candy when two saxophonists played the same melody and another went off on a speedy detour.

Bourgeois' soaring dexterity and lyrical prowess was acknowledged by the crowd with chants, but Gregory totally surprised me with one raging solo. Where do these people come from? How does New Orleans have so many great musicians? It was nice when Sarif contributed a rare bass sax solo and dropped low enough to create a nasty vibe.

A highlight of the night was when the band built up around a crazy circular sax line. The two other saxes played high notes alongside, while the drummer fleshed out the cymbals to create a beautiful, disorienting effect.

All prepared music should be this good.

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