By VelvetVoyce, Publisher/Reviewer of SoundBites
So as I was cruising through my social media outlets one day I received a message (PM’s I think they’re called) from this swank and really cool jazz venue in Alpharetta, GA named “The Velvet Note”. I had been there once before when they first opened up to see trumpeter Mark Rapp and instantly liked the place. And once I saw they were bringing singer Sachal Vasandani back to Atlanta, I knew I had no choice but to head back sooner than later! To my surprise
The message asked if I could come to the show as the Chef wanted me to taste their menu. He apparently noticed I have an appreciation for good food and wanted my opinion on their selections. I have to be honest with you, the message made my day. I call myself a “wanna be foodie” because I don’t think I’ve earned all my “true foodie” stars and stripes so to have a real Chef want my opinion on THEIR food was an honor. So I marked my calendar for Saturday night and looked forward to a meeting with my two loves: food and music
The Velvet Note is located in Alpharetta, GA which some folks may think is ”out of the way”-hey, I did at one point but after this night, I have to say it is well worth the trip! I got there in about 20 minutes which is really how long it takes to get anywhere in and around Atlanta. I had reserved my “place” for the second set which started at 9:30pm (Mind you, Friday’s show and the 1st set on Saturday night was SOLD OUT). I knew I had to get there early to be sure to chat with the owner Tamara Fuller and hopefully say hello to Sachal before the show. I had MC’d a show he did in Atlanta last year and he was SO cool. Not at ALL what I had expected actually. But Sachal is one down to earth cat!
I was glad I had arrived early as folks were already waiting to get in for the second set while the first one was letting out. Once I got in the first thing I saw was Sachal chatting with some members of the audience. I told you he was a cool cat. You want to know another things that’s cool: THE VELVET NOTE! The full name of the venue is: “The Velvet Note Acoustic Living Room” and there is a very good reason why. (I was reminded as soon as I walked in). This venue is really like no other. It really has the comforting and relaxing ambience of a living room in a beautiful home. There are even a couple of couches where patrons can sit and truly enjoy the show. You can tell that whoever designed and put thought into this venue REALLY wanted the audience to have a very special experience. And that was confirmed for me, as Tamara explained before introducing Sachal that the room was designed to provide some of the best sound acoustically. From the window….to the wall and apparently up to the ceiling, careful detail was put into the architecture of the place to guarantee that it would be the best listening experience for both the audience and the performer. (You’d be surprised how many artists don’t enjoy performing at certain places because of the acoustics!)
Tamara also explained how they serve the food on plastic plates and use plastic utensils to avoid the “click clack” sound metal ones would make. I didn’t really think about it but those little noises can take away from enjoying a show. They can be downright annoying actually so I had to give Tamara two thumbs up for even thinking that way. Again, The Velvet Note truly wants their audience to have THE best experience. Oh, another thing Tamara pointed out….because the room is so “sound proof” you may want to be mindful of your conversation. She pointed out during the last set a young lady said about Sachal: “He’s SO sexy!” and the ENTIRE room heard. I couldn’t help but laugh because ummm….Sachal IS sexy. So I made a mental note to keep all MY comments–to myself.
I was seated by the bar which was where I chose to sat. Why not? Bartenders are some of the coolest people and you can get some good information from them. And if you’re like me you enjoy pairing your drink with your meal and I apparently was at the right seat in the house for just that. Cory Wills-who to call just a “bartender” really does no justice-is a man that knows his wine and spirits! I introduced myself and asked if he mind that I would be sitting at his bar and he insisted it wasn’t a problem. I knew I had picked the right seat for that night.
I had the pleasure of being taken care of by Enoch, a super cool gentlemen who, coincidentally, had met a week or so before at a completely different venue where we were both patrons. I tell you, I was feeling at home but NOT at home and Sachal hadn’t even started to sing yet. Enoch greeted me with a smile and hug and got right down to business. Before I knew it, my first dish arrived:
Cheese and fruit. To some its still an odd combination but to me, its perfect. (And yes, you should eat the cheese and the fruit together-it tastes great!!) This plate had fresh blue cheese (which I rarely see!) along with other fine cheese, fresh fruit and a salami and cheese roll that I fell in love with. What I loved about this plate was that it satisfied every “note” of my palate. Tart cheese, thin crisp crunchy cracker, tangy and sweet fruit, spicy salami roll. My mouth was singing.
Next came the salad-I received a smaller portion that normal since I was doing a tasting and didn’t want to get full too soon.
I LOVE ceasar salads-but not from everyone. Some places don’t realize that every element of a ceasar salad must be right or the whole thing goes wrong. This salad made me smile as the Chef must have read my mind. Fresh lettuce, fresh shaved parmesean cheese, a combo of white and pumpernickel croutons (which tasted oh so fresh!) and a dressing that was just right-not overpowering.
Next up: Jumbo Maryland crab cake w/corn salsa & lemon aioli
Delish! I love corn salsa and the lemon aioli gave the dish the right touch of flavor to help it all come together. Cory actually suggested this to me as one of his faves before he knew I was tasting the entire menu.
Next: Salmon w/ a coconut jasmine rice. Salmon and rice are actually very similar in that: it seems easy enough to cook but one “off” thing about it can ruin it all. Thankfully, nothing was off about this dish!
And finally, the Beef with chimichurri sauce w/yellow rice and cheesy jalapeno cornbread (thumbs up!)
Then for desert, one of my favorites: the key lime pie (I may have licked the plate)
I have to say, it was a great night and The Velvet Note is such a unique place that I know it will be around for a long time. I can’t wait to get back there myself!
The Velvet note was featured in an article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently. The article discusses the origin, design and experience here along with interviews and photos.
Stuck in the middle of a strip center on Old Milton Parkway, in a narrow storefront that was once home to a yogurt shop, The Velvet Note is a straight-ahead jazz club in a place you might least expect to find one.
But its location and design are anything but random. Owner and general manager Tamara Fuller said she chose suburban Alpharetta based on demographics, including median income and education.
Read the rest here »
* * * * 1/2 (4.5 Stars out of 5)
By Michael Lane, Staff Reviewer
If there ever was a hard-pressed follow-up performance in the music industry, it certainly comes on the heels of Valentine’s Day. Even with vocalist Monica Spears in the company of her band, this is no small feat. But just as the love of Valentine’s Day carries over, so does the euphoria, and for this show, it was a delicious, metaphorical icing on the cake.
Bassist John Roberts stole the first song with his vivid midsection solo that culminated into a wonderfully-syncopated musical painting of a dozen different bright colors. Monica’s voice rose above the song’s arrangement and lovingly caressed all forty audience members like a hand to a cheek. Her stage presence was low-key, as the most complex acts tend to be. Not one note, vocally or instrumentally, was out of place tonight, a sign of meticulous preparation and focus.
In addition to an expected and highly-anticipated performance of “My Funny Valentine”, the quartet performed around a dozen soulful, jazzy interpolated tunes. Monica sounded like a calmer Erykah Badu, with a more jovial, positive demeanor than her self-designated counterpart, Jessica Rabbit. Her version of the Sinatra classic, “I’ve got You Under my Skin”, was like hearing Betty Wright sing a soul composition. Her interpretation of the Beatle’s classic, “And I Love Her”, was fresh and sultry, unlike any rendition this reviewer has ever heard of the Fab Four. Monica was never weighed down by her band, who all kept metronome-worthy time and seemed to delicately place their sonic inputs in synchronous regard for the proverbial melodic minefield.
It is hard to imagine that Monica Spears has never released a single recording, and yet, despite this fact, she commands the stage and your attention with her sultry voice and fortified presence. Your emotions boil, your heart sweats and you become almost dazed in the luminous afterglow of her songs. It’s like stepping out of a sauna in a South Carolina summer to see your sweetheart beckoning you into a cool, clear swimming pool—it’s pure, refreshing lust that you hope will never end.
* * * * * (5 out of 5 stars)
By Michael Lane, Staff Reviewer
Perhaps you’ve noticed that on Valentine’s Day, everything is better in pairs. Two people combining their love. Two drinks sipped in unison, and two sets of eyes gazing ever-so-lovingly into one another’s. Couple this with the musical pairing of Joe Gransden (trumpet, vox) and Kenny Banks (piano) and you have a most desirable night of delight.
Both established performers in their own right, they waste not one moment as they cruise through a spirited show. Kenny Banks is easily one of the world’s most talented jazz pianists, softly caressing every ivory key with both precision and flair. Most performers have one and not the other, but Kenny achieves both so easily, it is as if he is simply breathing or blinking. Joe and Kenny–not only joyously, but with style–breeze through their opening number as the crowd radiates happiness and comfort, pretty standard fare at The Velvet Note.
It’s obvious that Joe and Kenny have a respectful working relationship. They trade solos as often as they exchange jokes, before, during and after songs. Jazz is a genre characterized by improvisation and freedom, but their performance is akin to coloring inside the lines, but with every brushstroke, the lines dissipate until they disappear, leaving behind exploration on every other page. Between extended musical arrangements, Joe and Kenny engage the audience, providing Abbott and Costello-style entertainment, which turns contemporary and reminiscent, leading the way to a timeless sound: laughter.
Joe is playing a rare 1951 Martin Committee, the same size and vintage instrument of legends Chet Baker and Miles Davis. He makes it sound as sonically varied as the piano, dozens of sounds melodically explode from the instrument on every song. He explains that he found this trumpet at a garage sale for a $150, a literal steal given its current market value. Every note, every word, every detail is graciously absorbed by the audience. The atmosphere is consistently relaxed, but the music transitions back and forth, from joy…to humor…to love.
Joe is an exceptional artist. From his ten CD’s to his signature second-generation Sinatra voice, he is clearly the trumpeter you won’t soon forget. Whether they are playing for Clint Eastwood, recording together on their upcoming release, or mesmerizing a full house at The Velvet Note, the duo of Joe Gransden and Kenny Banks provides the most intelligent, explorative, crowd-pleasing show, which is, quite frankly, jazz as it was intended to be.
HIGH PRAISE FROM ST. IVES COUNTRY CLUB NEWSLETTER!
by Rhonda Ziegler
The Velvet Note provides an exceptional evening of entertainment and fine food which takes you on an incredible journey you would not expect in Alpharetta!
The Velvet Note is an acoustic “…Living Room” where you can enjoy nationally-recognized and acclaimed artists as well as the best musicians in Atlanta. The sound is amazing because the “living room” was designed by musicians to provide the purest vocal and instrumental reception available to a live audience.
Fridays feature acoustic artists showcasing rock, folk, country and independent music. Saturdays you will enjoy sensational styles of Jazz and Blues, both vocal and instrumental.
The Velvet Note feels like an intimate private living room which features comfy, cozy sofas and chairs so you can be up close and personal with the artists, I was actually able to chat with the lead singer and piano player before the performance. The dining tables are also close and personal so definitely plan on making new friends! We were lucky enough to be joined by Karla Harris who is a very lovely person and will be performing at The Velvet Note in March.
Fridays and Saturdays feature a 7:00 performance and a 9:00 performance and both are sold out weeks before so make sure you make your reservations early. As you are captivated by the talented artists you can enjoy from a select list of wines and ales throughout the evening. You may also choose to add a wonderful dinner to enjoy throughout the show. The menu changes weekly and the chef specializes in creating the perfect bite– the most flavorful, intense mouthful of your favorite seasonal creations. Their objective is to serve a perfect blend of fun and food to enhance your total evening experience.
If you want something light and refreshing I would suggest the “Meat and Cheese Tasting Plate”. We started with assorted Artisinal cheeses from around the world and which featured Goat cheese, sharp white cheddar and a wonderful Buffalo mozzarella. It was accompanied by shaved honey ham, prosciutto and accented with sun dried tomatoes, grapes, blackberries, & strawberries.
The “Spinach and Spring Salad” was chopped for easy eating and was topped with goat cheese with red onions, spiced walnuts, pine nuts and a very light raspberry vinaigrette dressing. I really enjoyed the flavors.
The Velvet Note only offers 4 entrées each evening so the chef can focus on providing outstanding cuisine in a short amount of time.
First we sampled was the “Beef Short Ribs” The slow braised beef short ribs were very tender & fell apart with my fork however the best part about this dish was the corn pudding. The Poblano Southern corn pudding was definitely the best I have ever tasted. I loved the accents of jalapeno and bacon which gave it a mild yet spicy flavor.
“Salmon” is my favorite food and their Asian marinated salmon filet was pan seared to perfection in a wonderful light Asian sauce however again the side dish stole the show. The edamame coconut rice was vegetable infused with boiled green soybeans, peas and corn with just a hint of the coconut flavor. It was a wonderful combination.
I am also a big fan of “Crab Cakes” and I was not disappointed. They serve two Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes prepared Maryland-style with just a tiny bit of breading to keep the presentation together. The taste was wonderful! They were served with an arugula micro green salad tossed with fried corn and accompanied with a lovely lemon aioli sauce. The crab cakes are a house favorite and definitely a dish I will order again.
Enjoy an evening of exceptional music while enjoying a cocktail and meeting new friends, with fine dining all at The Velvet Note!
The Velvet Note
Acoustic Living Room
4075 Old Milton Parkway
A Personal Strategic Manifesto
I still remember the day that McDonalds first offered their fries in a Super Size. I no longer worried about running out—I had miles and miles of those hot, salty, crispy, savory, potatoes, as many as I could eat. I downed them greedily—three or four at a time, with the oil and salt dotting my fingers, until they were all gone. And then an hour or so later, I didn’t feel very good at all.
On my subsequent visits, I would order a Supersize, because they were such a good deal and just to make sure that I had all the fries I wanted, but I would never, ever eat them all. I got accustomed to throwing away the food I had ordered.
Similarly, in buying my first home, I was so proud to be able to afford 3500 square feet. I was young, single, a career warrior, and I had just purchased all of the home I could afford. It was a four-level garage townhome in Columbia, Maryland, in the same neighborhood where Oprah Winfrey had once lived. The levels went up and up endlessly, floor after floor of space that I had little remaining funds to decorate or furnish. Looking back on it, it must have looked like the home of a newly-inked NBA star—tons of space, outfitted with little more than a large, flatscreen television and a big ole couch. Eventually, there were entire rooms that I never used. They filled with junk and neglected filing—an excavation project that nagged at me until the day that I moved.
But since those days, I have had the wakeup call of the 2009 recession and its lingering aftershocks, and I am no longer a fan of consuming all you can, just because you can. Like many Americans, I have had to scale my life back to the functional essentials, and use my creativity and imagination to make them extraordinary. A leaner closet…fewer cars….a smaller residence. I pay more attention to not wasting anything—food, time, money. And you know what? I am much happier and enjoy my life much more. It’s not an altruistic sacrifice for the sake of a nameless, faceless future generation. It’s the purposeful utilization of the least amount of resources necessary to achieve our goals, and then the presence of mind to make them extraordinary. It’s “microintensity”. And that is how we run The Velvet Note.
The Velvet Note is a 40-seat acoustic living room and restaurant in Alpharetta, Georgia. And from top to bottom, we are adhering to the philosophy of microintensity. From the size of the space and stage, to the sound scheme, to the artist configurations we book, to the hours of operation, to the number of people on our staff, to the inventory of fine wines, beers and liquors, to the décor and interior design—everything is specifically orchestrated to deliver you the highest quality experience with the least amount of resources, creatively enhanced to be exceptional.
For example, our menu is design to serve guests only one thing—the perfect bite. No heavy tri-fold menu, no Styrofoam cartons, no bottomless plates, just the perfect balance of flavors for seasonal offerings leaving you satisfied, but never too full.
So, now that our guests understand and appreciate our mission, they often ask, “When will you be expanding?” Thank you for indulging me in the long answer to this question. The short answer is, “When expansion makes us better, not just bigger.”
Some of you might have noticed Steve Jobs’ biography on the shelf at The Velvet Note. The legendary techo-entrepreneur rose from being fired to creating what is now the world’s most valuable company by adhering to a concept similar to microintensity. Not one button or surface or function of his technology was wasted or squandered or overlooked or taken for granted. He enjoyed knowing how things function and how to make them the best they could be. His power was not in the expanse or the expense. It was in doing the most with the least amount of waste. It was elegance brought to life, microintensity at its best.
Steve Jobs was a huge music fan. Each and every night when we open the show, I think of him and hope that he would have enjoyed the evening. Here’s my favorite quote:
Your time is limited
Don’t waste it living someone else’s life
Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking
Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice
And most important: have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.
1955 – 2011
Cory Wills is the Wine Steward and Team Leader at The Velvet Note Acoustic Living Room. His golden palate has been insured by Lloyds of London for an estimated value of 5.4 million dollars (just kidding, but he really knows his wine!)
Dear Cory: This is the holiday season and I will be cooking a lot of turkey and ham. What kind of wine should I buy that will “wow” my houseguests?
There are basically two ways to pair wines with food in order to make the flavors of your meal pop. The first way is to select a wine that is very different than the flavor of the food and thus brings out flavor through contrast. This is appropriate for lighter dishes such as salads, fish and some chicken. The second way is to choose a varietal whose characteristics are similar to the food you’re eating. This is especially the case for richer, sweeter or heavier foods.
Turkey and pork are sweeter meats, and during the holidays, they tend to be eaten with even sweeter dishes such as cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes. Therefore, for your turkey, I would suggest a Pinot Noir, specifically a French Beaujolais. For your ham, you’re going to want to stick with a Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel, because ham is a sweeter meat, and you want to choose a bigger, sweeter, juicier, fruity wine to accompany it.
If you have a question regarding wine, send it to email@example.com. Meanwhile, enjoy The Velvet Note’s selection of top rated wines, craft beers and ultra-premium liquors Wednesday-Saturday, 6:00 – Midnight.
Nestled in a quiet corner of Alpharetta just 15 minutes north of the perimeter off 400 resides this cozy little nightspot that brings welcoming audiences an unplugged jazz experience. Intimate in its approach, one is swathed in the tapestry of music emanating from the stage, regardless of where one comfortably rests in this forty-seat room.
Within this construct, owner Tamara Fuller has carefully crafted a wonderful ambiance with light, sound, libation and culinary delights that will excite your senses while assuaging any fear that your encounter will be anything less than your desire.
As one who enjoys seeking life beyond the curve, I was enthralled along with the audience to a powerful and moving set of originals and covers sans ballad last night performed by the Melvin Jones Quintet. This wonderful music was in good company with sumptuos lump crab cakes, a glass of red and a delightful and attentive staff.
I highly recommend making a reservation for this acoustic respite and refresh your mind, body and spirit.
Ryan Whitehead was born in Warner Robins, GA. This sleepy small town dominated by an Air Force base happens to be my birthpace too, although I didn’t grow up there as he did. Nevertheless, I will take this rare opportunity to call him my “homeboy.” Anyway, the first things you notice about Ryan are his eyes, which barely conceal the mischief crafted by a child whose intellect has outpaced his options for putting such mischief to constructive use. Ryan Whitehead’s face is always asking, “How much can I get away with before you notice?”
By the age of 13, Ryan was an overweight, 220-pound adolescent with few friends and a severely overactive personality. He decided to make some dramatic changes, including running, incorporating fresh vegetables into his diet, and music. “My first week in middle school band, I was kicked out for disorderly conduct. My dad suggested that I go back and apologize and make it work. After that, I began practicing 6 hours a day, every day. I fell in love with it.” He credits his school band leaders for spending the time with him necessary to give him a great start as a young musician.
Whitehead had a brief stint at Kennesaw State University, studying under the great Sam Skelton, who he says taught him to “be on time and know your craft.” Mismanagement of his new-found campus freedom cut his college career short, but helped propel him into the professional scene at a relatively young age and with an unusually focused ambition. “This is all I do. It’s the only thing I’m good at. I make an effort to make sure people have a great time at my shows.”
This will be Ryan’s first performance since his recent two-month Mediterranean tour with Norwegian Cruise Lines during which he played saxophone, clarinet and flute each night. He describes his upcoming show as “classy” and “different” and as he talks, there’s a mischievous twinkle in his eye—he’s still trying to push the limits and see how much he can get away with. “I know I could make a living just playing “Brick House”, but I want to do the music that resonates with my soul.” Accompanying him will be two of his best friends–Mark Sims on bass and Jacob Deaton on guitar. Hopefully, they will be behave themselves. Or hopefully, they won’t. Showtimes are Friday, October 26th at 7:30pm and 9:30pm and tickets are available at www.thevelvetnote.com/schedule-ticketing.
I have been meaning to write this post for some time now. I apologize for the delay. By means of mea culpa, I can only offer that there are some things in life that you feel so deeply and so profoundly that you need to sit with them awhile….to fully grasp their meaning and connections, and to make sure that they stand the test of a few days of time. That and the fact that I’ve been distracted by the perfect snap of autumn weather here in Georgia.
In late August, I was in an extensive early morning interview with Dr. Gordon Vernick, Coordinator of Jazz Studies at Georgia State University. Now, Dr. Vernick is my absolute favorite kind of guy—grumpy. Straight up—no chaser. He reminds me of my best buddies when I lived in New York City—the lawyers and doctors and judges I played poker with every Thursday night on Riverside Drive, which—coincidentally—is where Vernick was born and raised. I learned a long time ago that the most cynical amongst us are those who actually care the most—care so much that it hurts. Vernick definitely cares. We quickly blew through all things superficial in his bio, and then we got to an interesting notion as we pondered why jazz has not been the popular choice on our music scene since the early 60’s. Vernick said, “Popular music choices reflect the nation’s health, since pop music, by definition, appeals to the least common denominator. 100 years ago, we were a nation of active music makers, meaning that most people grew up learning how to play some kind of music. When a culture is actively making music, you have healthier music in the cultural diet. It’s like, when you don’t cook, you don’t appreciate real food. It’s a tragedy that we don’t actively make music anymore, and that’s probably not going to change, just like most people aren’t going to go back to cooking their own food. So now, we have to teach people how to listen to and appreciate music like jazz, because it’s not something they can distinguish with their palate. As a nation, we are missing part of our diet. ” Or something like that, you get point. It was kind of dismal, depressing, actually, especially having just launched a venue that focuses on the best music delivered in the best possible way. With iPods and XBoxs having replaced the clarinet, could future generations truly appreciate the difference that is The Velvet Note?
A few days later, I was driving down the road and I passed a member of the Guitar Hero Generation holding a sandwich board. Not just any sandwich board, but the one in this photo. I was so surprised that I had to screech on my brakes and stop and ask if I could take a snapshot. I mean, come on—we are all accustomed to “We Buy GOLD” or “Furniture Liquidation Sale” or even “Live Nude Girls!!” being hocked on the corner, but this was truly unusual. Could it be that the dark clouds were parting and the rays of a culture of music makers were shining through? And more importantly, would I live long enough to see these seeds come to fruition?
On the evening of Dr. Vernick’s show, quite a few college students poured in to hear their beloved jazz history professor blow his horn. It was a phenomenal show—my bartender and service assistant (both of whom are trained musicians) declared that Vernick had set a new standard for our venue and that we should never settle for less. At one point in the night, a young man of 6’4” towered over me. “Tamara, meet Jeffrey Cox,” said my music director, Justin Varnes. “ He’s in high school and his quartet is scheduled to perform here in a couple of months.” Huh?!? We’re booking high schoolers now? Justin’s look said, “Just trust me.” Well, it turns out that our Master Cox is the star pupil of—guess who? Our charmingly-grumpy Dr. Vernick. Oh….that’s a lot to live up to. Enough said.
As the Cox Quartet show drew closer, the reservations started to swell and the buzz started to grow. At times, I had to remind myself that they were still in high school, because their sense of organization and ability to sell tickets had outpaced most others we’ve booked, young and old. And they had planned to perform both interpreted standards as well as original work, which is always of great interest to us. Media called and asked if they could attend. A record label was in the audience. We were on the edge of our seats as we opened for the first time on Sunday evening to welcome The Jeffrey Cox Quartet.
Jeffrey Cox’s compositions and arrangements are simply beautiful. They make you wonder how it is possible for someone his age to bring something so original to such a classic genre and its works. Listen to Cox’s arrangement of Coltrane’s classic “Naima”. The notion that this self-possessed 17-year-old sat down and put such innovative investment and confident thought into his musical craft fuels me with unapologetic hope for the future generations of jazz musicians.
On bass, Andrew Sommer performed like a highly-skilled jazz surgeon…anchoring the rhythm of the group while at the same time, showing an individual, meticulous reverence and attention to the detailed fingerwork on the bass strings that was quite remarkable.
And then there is Jordan Holiman. When you think of a 17-year-old and a set of drums, images of the unruly, untamed, unbridled come to mind. Nothing could be further from the truth here—Jordan Holiman possesses a control, a maturity and sensitivity to his role that is far beyond his years. And apparently, he plays some other instruments quite well too, which probably accounts for his ability to both sense and integrate the disparate elements into a synchronized whole.
I don’t think that I can say enough about the group’s pianist, Andres Rovira. Rovira and his family have visited our acoustic living room several times, and they seem to really understand and appreciate what we are trying to do here—which is to make this a place where you can truly hear music at its best. Across all of those occasions combined, The Young Mr. Rovira possibly uttered four words that passed my eardrums. Thus, when I heard that he was the pianist in this quartet and prodigy of the great Kevin Bales, it was difficult for me to put these seemingly contradictory images together. Boy, was I wrong! His interpretive artistry is exquisite, and I do mean “exquisite” in the true sense of the word. While listening, you wonder how it is possible for such a quiet 16-year-old to play so confidently and beautifully, and at the same time, you wonder why it’s so rare to find in this world. It is both rapturous and painful at the same time.
The Jeffrey Cox Quartet performed only one show at The Velvet Note, on that unassuming Sunday evening, packed from end-to-end by—mostly—people who knew people they knew. For every person fortunate enough to be in attendance, there was a corresponding person who had called for reservations and had been unable to get in for this show. So I declare, without hesitation, that if you ever get the precious opportunity to hear this group perform—either at our place or elsewhere, RUN, do not walk to the box office. These four young men are a brilliant example of the future of music in this country—a future led by music makers who grew into music appreciators, who I am certain will grow into the kind of true artists who change the world.