Finally made it over to Take Five Coffee in Leawood, KS. I found out that Todd Strait was going to be performing with Interstring Monday night, and knew this was a show I didn’t want to miss. The fact that the group features 2 jazz guitarists in unusual and interesting in itself, but Interstring features 4 of Kansas City’s best jazz musicians along with Strait, who now lives in Portland, OR.
Insterstring is a straight-ahead Kansas City jazz band consisting of Bob Bowman on upright bass, Danny Embrey and Rod Fleeman on guitar, and Todd Strait on drums. I think just about every one of the songs they played were original compositions. Many of these were composed by the members themselves, and a few by friends of the group.
The place was absolutely packed, which didn’t surprise me. What did surprise me was that I didn’t see a lot of drummers I knew there. Todd Strait is still one of the best drummers I’ve heard in my life. The guy is flat amazing. He has machine-like precision chops, and always uses them to their best musical advantage. As well as being entertained, I learn something new every time I see him play. Sometimes it’s a fairly simple thing that didn’t seem obvious to me before watching him perform. Last night I watched him frequently changing from brushes in both hands, to a stick in one hand and brush in the other, or maybe a mallet in one hand, in the middle of the song, as the music changed. I also saw him frequently playing with his bare hands, hitting cymbals as well as drums. Now I’ll admit that Todd Strait isn’t the first drummer to think of these ideas. However, I don’t think I’ve ever seen another drummer use so many sounds to such advantage to enhance the music. It’s easy for me to see why he’s in such demand by other jazz musicians.
Bob Bowman acted as spokesman for the group. The guy has a great sense of humor which made an already fabulous show that much more entertaining.
Interstring ended their show with “Odahoda,” a really fun unusual tune that combined old time hoe down country with funky jazz. Of course, the audience absolutely loved it. This show was an absolute steal for the $5.00 admission price!