The San Francisco Chamberjazz Quartet
at the Newly Improved West End Studio Theatre in San Rafael

I am a bit late in reporting this. The event was on November 26, 2005, Thanksgiving weekend. It is just too busy this time of the year. To add another excuse, the warm bed beckons in these cold evenings after the regular day job, rather than sitting in front of the computer to write an article.

The Chamberjazz Quartet is doing what me and my friends try to do but of course, much better. The sound is like chamber music, but it is more Jazz than classical chamber music. The West End Studio is just a plain rectangular room, with a small platform for the musicians. It seems like the room could be used for ballad or dance rehearsals spotting the handrail along one side and the full-length mirror on the other. Without table in between seats, the room may seat about 30 to 40 people. For Jazz, it is intimate, like a performance in your living room, thus Chamberjazz. The sound produced was warm and contained, and there was no echo.

The Chamberjazz Quartet is lead by pianist Gini Wilson, the Duchess; with Steve Heckman on saxophones, Ron Marabuto on drums, and Pat Klobas on bass. They played mostly their own compositions. This group has put out a new CD named "The San Francisco ChamberJazz Quartet." This evening was their CD release party. Jackie Ryan was special vocalist and Badr Karram played the Dumbek on the CD.

Steve Heckman, saxophone and
Pat Klobas on bass


Kevin Gibbs, rain stick; Gini Wilson, piano;
Steve Heckman, soprano sax.

They started with Gini's composition, which has a Vince Guaraldi's sound. The piece was warm and rich in timbre, the long and short notes from the bass helped it to swing; the clarinet snaked its way up and down weaving through the fabric of sound with accents from the drums. If I am not mistaken, the piece is called "Morning Song of a Falcon." It is a happy, bouncy piece.

Steve Heckmen's composition "Tangolero" started with a bass introduction. It was a sultry piece with Steve on tenor. Gini offered a melodious solo with a sweet romantic sound. Rhythm created by drums from hitting the side of the snare, created interesting backdrop for the bass solo.

The most fun and interesting piece for me was "Mountain Path." It was like a child hopping happily along a path in the mountains where it was misty and a bit foggy. Then it poured. Gini showed off her classical background with this imagery of rain. Then the rain stopped, and the child went skipping away.

"Let It Rain" written by Pat Klobas, was like a continuation of the previous piece with Gini playing the harp of the piano as an introduction. Kevin Gibbs, guest artist who usually plays the piano, played the rain stick as enhancement for the piece tonight. The soprano sax offered an introduction that is quite edgy but the rhythm was catchy and complicated, meters seemed to change often. The hitting of the snare by the stick sounded like random raindrops hitting hard on a roof, while the sound from the rain stick becomes the continuous pour.

Pat Klobas, Steve Heckman and Gini Wilson

Ron Marabuto

"Lucky Monkey" had the same feel as "Straighten Up and Fly Right," and is full of humor and fun. "Separate Ways" was a ballad with a warm melody. On the CD, this track was recorded with vocals.

On the classical side, Gini took Mussorgsky's "Promenade," and "Old Castle" from Pictures at an Exhibition. With the percussions, they added the jazzy touch.

We didn't get to stay for the second set, but I am sure it is done as well as the first, if not better. I do have the CD to listen to. It offers twelve tracks with a good variety of rhythms and style. It shows off the musicians' talents as composers and performers, especially Gini. I enjoy the CD very much as well.
 By Stella Cheung Houston  

Back to Contents Page
Jazz Now Interactive

Copyright Jazz Now, January 2006 edition, all rights reserved