The O'Day and Wagner Duo

The Dragon's Den

April 13, 2004

Drummer Kevin O'Day and saxophonist Rob Wagner's jazz was mind-blowing at The Dragon's Den Tuesday night. They played four lengthy and enjoyable songs, but I only label them as "songs" because the duo had to take a break at some point. A man behind me turned to his friend at the end of the set and said in wonder, "Dude, they just improvised all that." O'Day and Wagner basically finished each other's musical sentences.

Exposition: O'Day and Wagner have played music together for more than ten years, and they used to play improvisational duets at Zeitgeist regularly.

Even though they didn't know where they were going with the music, they're such talented and confident musicians that they ended up making something beautiful out of it.

O'Day shook his keys against a metal chair, used mallets and brushes and played the mike stand with his drumsticks. He looked at Wagner a few times to judge their place in a song, but O'Day mainly free-flowed from soft touches to mad attacks and everywhere in between. Wagner was his usual mad-dash self, but at one point, I remember the music being so soothing that I wanted to fall asleep to it. Also, there was a welcome funk element in spots, courtesy of O'Day's hip-hoppity, slippity-slidin' jive beats.

These guys were the real thing.

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