Friday, December 4, 2015

Daniel Bennett Group lights up the Central Library atirum on a gray day

Recalling with pleasure his trio's first appearance at Indianapolis Marion County Public Library last summer, Daniel Bennett returned for a late harvest Thursday afternoon with an hourlong concert in the atrium.

With Matt Feick on drums and Nat Janoff on guitar, the multi-reedman offered a program largely of originals to a small crowd. The group's tunes varied in the degree of unanimity presented by guitar and reeds, making the arrangements able to present agreeable contrasts within the restrictive trio format.

Another factor assuring variety in the program was Bennett's adeptness on several instruments. Though he mostly played alto saxophone Thursday, he also picked up flute, piccolo, and oboe from time to time. In every case, he had sufficient focus and ability to make an impact no matter which one he turned to.

 Daniel Bennett Group kicks into "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" at Central Library.
The group settled into a groove that eventually produced "Caravan" with Bennett on piccolo, though the "B" section seemed to be missing by the time Janoff took one of his adroit, fluttery solos. When Bennett came back in, it was on flute. The group then segued into a promise to the presenter to bring in some holiday music: We heard "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" and "Deck the Halls" in miniature.

With that gesture out of the way, the trio moved from charity for all to mallards towards some: Bennett and his mates gave quirky life to "Doctor Duck Builds a Patio," which waddled purposely, then "Sinking Houseboat Confusion,"  which was orderly despite that title. Breaking up the conspicuous whimsy was "Monk's Blues," a rare guest at a party generated from such spicy home-grown ingredients as "Strange Jim and the Zebra" and "The Spinning Top Stood Still." Bennett's alto embodied that title object in the latter piece with tremolo figures and bent notes.


The penultimate in the baker's dozen tunes the trio presented was the picturesque "Flow," with a radiant guitar solo. That set things up for a nice encore, which felt like a 5/4 inspiration that gave Bennett's flute a floating foundation.