Saturday, May 25, 2019

Time Flies (when you're having fun): Monika Herzig's quartet message at the Jazz Kitchen

Cover of the new CD by the new band, the Time Flies.
On a CD tour with her new quartet Time Flies, keyboardist-composer Monika Herzig stopped by the Jazz Kitchen Friday night. Husband Peter Kienle's guitar provided a glittering revival of the German-born couple's adaptation of jazz-rock fusion, which burst out more than 20 years ago after they moved to the USA and formed an American version of a band called Beeble Brox.

Expressing joy in her new Casio 3000 keyboard, Herzig moved from grand piano to the new instrument in the course of a sparkling first set. The touring version of the band, with only the keyboard-guitar couple continuing, is fully up to demands of the Time Flies' idiomatic variety. The other members are a bass guitarist well-known in central Indiana, Scott Pazera of Lafayette, and a New York drummer of phenomenal versatility and depth of groove, Karina Colis.

The quartet got off to a blistering start with a Herzig original, "Plugged In." The title gives notice that the fusion chops of the Time Flies are in good working order. Kienle's aggressive guitar led the charge on this churning number, and both he and Herzig took
Monika Herzig recently struck a blow for jazz equality with her "Sheroes" project.
characteristic solos.  The pianist is also an adventurous composer, a fact that goes way back in her output on record. "Fly High," written in an uneasy tribute to a daughter's decision to train professionally for the circus, found her moving to the grand piano, and guiding from there a performance that led the ensemble effectively through a rather cumbersome  bridge to glory again in the main material.

A well-knit medley followed, venturing through some effective displays of Kienle's guitar in "Oily Riser" and "Powerlines" on the way to a typically cheerful Herzig ode to spring. Along the way the pianist displayed a couple of new weapons in her arsenal, though that may misrepresent skills so gently deployed: whistling in unison with the guitar, and wordless singing so as to vary the ensemble sound and add emotional warmth.

The set came to an end in a well-coordinated musical rant against the protracted struggles of tax preparation, "Where's My Form?" A lyrical section suggested that relief can be found even from such arduous chores, but at the end it was back to edgy Time Flies business as Herzig finished the piece on her beloved Casio, both mellow and ringing out amid the highly charged ensemble mixture.

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