Nature abhors a vacuum, as the maxim says, and so apparently does the stage at Scalo Il Bar. Every Friday night for several years now, you could depend on finding pianist Stu MacAskie’s trio, with bassist Michael Glynn and drummer Cal Haines, swinging away, house band to the bubbling conviviality. With MacAskie’s departure for points Far East last month, several jazz groups have been sucked into the void he left and will rotate through on Friday nights.
“Stu was absolutely wonderful and did a great job for us,” says Ben Williams, the bar’s music director. “Upon his departure, we decided to take the opportunity to showcase different artists.”
One band, at least, has nailed down a regular gig there, as its name announces: Cal Haines and the 4th Friday Trio, which features Haines, Glynn and pianist John Rangel.
“It’s a real honor and a real treat to play with John,” says Haines. “He’s so exciting to play with—so demanding, and yet so giving. It’s a beautiful place to be in.”
Rangel returns the compliment. “They’re both terrific musicians. Cal’s so fun, such a die-hard swinger,” he says.
Rangel has come up with a concept that promises to make their appearances more intriguing than the run-of-the-mill gig: Each month they’ll pay tribute to a major jazz pianist. “We wanted to do something a little different,” says Rangel. “There are all these different piano players that a lot of young people don’t listen to because they’re listening to the modern guys,” he says. “They’re worth checking out.”
January’s gig will honor Horace Silver, with selections that emphasize the remarkable breadth of his work and the evolution of his compositional style. Tributes to bebop master Bud Powell (Feb. 26) and the soulful and too often overlooked Bobby Timmons (Mar. 26) will follow.
The other Fridays in the month will continue in a jazzy vein, says Williams, with the likes of the AlphaCats, Le Chat Lunatique, The Midnight Creepers, Chris Dracup and Tommy Elskes, and Zach Nielsen. Meanwhile, the Tuesday night jam session is continuing under the direction of pianist Steve Figueroa, and Saturdays at Il Bar will soon feature live music again, too.