Roger Humphries – drums
Max Leake – piano
Ron Horton – trumpet
Lou Stellute – saxophones
Dwayne Dolphin – bass
A few weeks ago, I was invited by a good friend to join him for beers, burgers and jazz and it was a difficult combination to pass up. We started things off with a few beers and some really good burgers out in Ambridge at the Bridgetown Taphouse. The food was good and, having become accustomed to recent East End Pittsburgh pricing, the prices here were right! The next stop was a short cruise down river to Sweetwater Center for the Arts in Sewickley for the jazz part.
For any jazz fan in Pittsburgh, not much else needs to be said about local jazz hero Roger Humphries and his all-star band, RH Factor. If you are looking for that mid 1960’s / hard-bop / Blue Note / Jazz Messengers type of sound, these are the guys that will deliver every time. On this particular night, they sounded REALLY good. Not just their playing, but the actual sound in the room was incredible. With the exception of a small amp for Dwayne Dolphin‘s electric bass, all of the instruments were acoustic with no amplification. There’s something about the concept of sound coming from just metal and wood that I absolutely love. Of course I’m simplifying, but it’s rare and it’s amazing.
Through two engaging sets of music, some highlights for me were Lou Stellute‘s use of a soprano sax (which I had never seen him play before), as well as takes on “My Favorite Things”, one of my favorite Herbie Hancock tunes “Tell Me A Bedtime A Story“, and a version of Joe Henderson‘s “Mamacita” shown in the video above. Also, I cannot forget the enthusiastic introductions by local artist/jazz singer/legend, Betty Douglas.
With all due respect to Sweetwater and the town (borough?) of Sewickley, it almost always seems like the people that come out to events here probably don’t make it out to see much live music. Again, I mean no disrespect at all and I could be way off base. The audience just always seems so incredibly appreciative and impressed by the music being presented and the audience on this night was no exception. To me, this certainly enhances the experience and makes for a more memorable night. Thank you to Alex, Shawn, and the Sweetwater staff for inviting me out. As always, I had a blast and look forward to doing it again!