click to enlarge Musicians Zach Brock, Keith Ogawa, and Bob Lanzetti of Snarky Puppy perform on Jan. 17, 2023 at VCU's Singleton Center for the Performing Arts.

Peter McElhinney

Musicians Zach Brock, Keith Ogawa, and Bob Lanzetti of Snarky Puppy perform on Jan. 17, 2023 at VCU's Singleton Center for the Performing Arts.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Review: Brock, Lanzetti, and Ogawa at VCU's Singleton Center for the Performing Arts, Jan. 17

Posted By on Wed, Jan 18, 2023 at 1:18 PM

There are memorable nights in RVA music that reward taking a chance. Last night, one was delivered by the unconventional jazz trio of Brock, Lanzetti, and Ogawa at VCU's Singleton Center for the Performing Arts.

With no recordings, a venue conventionally used for student performances, and a composite group name that sounds like specialty medical practice, Brock, Lanzetti, and Ogawa came into the city under the radar. They are all Grammy Award-winning members of the popular jazz-funk ensemble, Snarky Puppy, but that is as much an extended musical association as a set band. (Note: Lanzetti was a founding member.)

Almost all of the buzz space for the week was taken up by Butcher Brown’s recent weekend performance with the Richmond Symphony. And this concert was the first day of spring term after the long winter break.

But the half-empty hall was more a reflection of missed opportunity than musical quality.

The trio started with an interesting sonic lineup of violin, guitar, and a drum-kit-like set of percussion. The songs, written by all three players, combined elements from American folk, Asian and Polynesian sonorities, and gypsy melodies. This appealing, cross-cultural blend was akin to the ECM chamber jazz ensembles of the ‘70s and early-John McLaughlin. Strategic use of electronics allowed the pizzicato violin to sound like a deep bass, and electric guitar to mimic a violin.

This was the last night of a tour that went from New York to the Midwest, dropping down from Pennsylvania for the Richmond gig before heading back to New York City to record. The playing was assured without ever seeming over-polished. The “new” had not yet worn off the songs or the player interactions, which is a plus because there is more excitement in a band’s acceleration than when it reaches cruising speed.

You can only hear something for the first time once. The consolation of missing this trio on last night’s stop in Richmond is that for many, the first time still lies ahead.

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