The band made everyone want safety goggles, obviously – Shelby rarely does anything but turn on high heat, but instead of the Cadillac of his full band, the Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra, this quartet seriously squealed into the corners: Matt Clark on piano, Howard Wiley playing saxophone, and the completely unexpected Jaz Sawyer on drums, in addition to Mr. Man himself on bass. The tightness! The tightness! Howard Wiley is not only a hummingbird-fingered genius of the high-low, high-low, high-low combinations, but he also has the smile of an adorable five-year-old. And Matt Clark didn't suffer by comparison to the appearance of McCoy Tyner in a DVD clip early on in the evening, which is damn near impossible.
I spotted no fewer than four major S.F. musicians in the audience: Lavay Smith and Chris Siebert (Wiley's in their band, too), Sean Hayes, and Rob Reich all showed up. A couple of guest trumpets whose names I didn't catch hopped onstage for "Giant Steps," and blew their heads off, too. Truthfully, though, everyone ran outside after the first set and talked about how much they loved Jaz Sawyer. All of this was enthusiastically blessed by a man of the cloth from the Church of St. John Coltrane, on the anniversary of the day, as Shelby pronounced it, "Coltrane ascended."
P.S. My friend Virginia, in town just for the night, did a double take when Marcus Shelby walked in the place. "Oh," I said, "did I forget to warn you …" "About how unbelievably attractive he is?" she said. "Yes, you did." By the end of the night, though, neither of us were thinking so superficially. Virginia just thanked me for taking her to "such a good thing;" she's a Mongo Santamaria fan, and kept talking about how good Jaz Sawyer was. Must have been the Love Supreme. --Hiya Swanhuyser