Keith Chagall Invites Everyone Into His Sunny, Jazzy Landscepe

Written by on August 5, 2010 in August 5, 2010, Live Reviews - 1 Comment

The artist’s “Invitation” CD, showcased at Typhoon, is illuminated with Latin highlights

Keith ChagallThe wide-ranging canvas of jazz music is painted from a diverse palette, with elements ranging from bluesy foundations to big-band orchestrations to electronic-fusion experimentations. Notable among the many world beats that shine through in jazz’s creative spectrum is the Latin influence, a spicy seasoning that is savored most pleasingly in the music of Keith Chagall. Chagall is a veteran singer-guitarist who illuminates his own audio canvas with a rich blend of tones that can open one’s heart and mind like a fresh-perked cup of Colombia’s finest coffee. This should come as no surprise, since Keith is originally from Colombia himself, and his music is satisfyingly infused with all kinds of Latin and Caribbean roots, rhythms and references, as can be heard on his latest studio CD, “Invitation.” Released last year, “Invitation” is a tasty, ten-track compilation that balances poetic vocal pieces with smooth instrumental excursions, adding up to an engaging blend that truly does invite the listener to stick around, enjoy the sound, and be glad with the good things one has found.

On Tuesday, July 13th, Keith dished up a delicious serving of hope-filled music, bringing his “Invitation” tastily to life at a supper-club called Typhoon, found on the grounds of the Santa Monica airport. One might not expect a music venue at an airport to have such good acoustics, but in fact the sound was just fine when Keith appeared there with a stellar ensemble that superbly complemented his compositions. Drummer Ed Smith’s crisp timekeeping was supplemented by the capable congas of Julio Figueroa, a smiling beat-master who truly did have “all the bells and whistles” in his percussion arsenal. Elegant bassist Ashley Dzergian rounded out the rhythm section, while melodic texture was furnished by a superb horn trio in Hawaiian shirts, consisting of Chris Tedesco on trumpet, Jacque Voyemont on trombone, and Doug Webb on saxophone and flute.

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Keith and company began with “She’s Incredible,” a lively love song that projected positive energy from the outset. Doug’s fluid flute lines were countered by Chris’s muted trumpet accents, and Jacque delivered a punchy trombone solo; with that opening number, each player displayed a prime level of technical excellence that would continue through the show. Next came the inspiring title cut from the “Invitation” disk, as Keith maintained an upbeat, inviting spirit by making eye contact, table by table, with as many Typhoon patrons as possible. The artist’s irrepressibly friendly nature remained evident as he strolled among the tables while strumming the lyrical melodies of “Flight of the Monarchs” and “Summer of My Life.” Next, the flamenco-flavored “Diamonds of Hope” might initially have evoked soothing sea breezes, but the music then caught fire with a hot sax solo from Doug, after which “Summer of Our Lives” really brought listeners alive, spurring the first dancer out onto the floor. That perky piece was suitably followed by “Afterglow,” which Keith called, with a wink, a song for “the moment after the moment,” and listeners nodded along in agreement and appreciation. People continued to bob and sway as the music slid into the soothing flow of “Light of My World,” which was gently feathered with more lilting flute from Doug. “Chagall’s Bolero” followed, during which Keith’s agile exploration of classical Spanish sources was so compelling that a woman in a little black dress felt inspired to interpret the music with a solo dance, front and center, while the guitarist showed off his expert chops and varied influences. The set concluded with the brightly uplifting tones of “Only for a Day,” bringing the hopeful theme of “Invitation” full-circle, as dancers hit the floor and the band jammed on to a jazzy, snazzy conclusion. The energetic guitarist gave an exuberant leap as he strummed his final chord, and the enthusiastic response from the well-serenaded crowd at Typhoon made it plain that everyone was very glad to have answered Keith Chagall’s “Invitation.”