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Concert Review: Miami Wings' Thursday Night Jazz Jam

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Miami Wings Jazz Jam
Thursday, July 23, 2009

Better Than: Bedtime on a Thursday night.

Miami Wings is a wings joint(duh)/sports bar way down in B.F.E that hosts a weekly underground jazz jam with the help of local serious jazz radio station 88.9 FM WDNA, and longtime neighborhood instrument shop Musician's Discount Center, which is located next door.

Though a highly unlikely venue for the sophisticated sounds of some of Miami's most talented up-and-coming and veteran jazz players, the stage at this local favorite, hole-in the-wall/down-south grease trap has seen some real deal jazz dudes jam out in its day.
Greats like Ira Sullivan, Joe Donato, Dante Luciani, Jeff Zavac, Andy Harlow, and Roberto Rodriquez drop by on any given Thursday night to get down with the regulars.

The house band, Wings Band, is comprised of alto saxophonist Steve

Kirkland with drummer Mike Cohen, along with bassist Joe Yeargin,

guitarist Brian Russell, and keyboardist Ryan Ellis. Ellis was

apparently out last night, replaced by a recent Coral Reef High

School-graduate named Chris. Little Chris can play, by the

way. This kid wowed the mostly older crowd with his on-point

pianissimo, and out-of-nowhere solos. The band sounded great as a

whole, led melodically by Kirkland's alto and Russel's sweet-toned

hollow body electric, and backed rhythmically by Cohen's hard-hitting

bebop beats and rock-steady senior citizen/handsome-guy-jazz-vet

Yeargin's upright bass lines.

Wings Band warmed things up with a handful of well-handled standards,

while audience members sat at tables grubbing on curly fries and hot

wings and Philly cheese-steak sangwhiches, washed down with beer and

sweet tea. The healthy food/good beer selection was somewhat lacking,

in my snobbish opinion, but it is after all a chicken wing venue. I

tried the (greasy, chicken nugget-tasting and sometimes chewy) gator

bites and the very cold and very reasonably priced Amber Boch draught.

I wrote both off as cultural indulgences/attempts at journalistic

assimilation. The dolphin fingers may have been a better choice, but

they were all out of fish when I was there. The service was excellent

though, and the place was packed with customers, including a large,

non-jazz clientele in the section by the front door.  

As the evening progressed, and the vibe settled in, the older musicians

offered up their seats to an array of brightly gifted youngsters, who

had been waiting eagerly with their instruments in the audience. New

World High School drummer guy was super smooth, rocking a clean

minimalist style, and looking extra comfortable back there.

Bespectacled trumpet player too with his Miles Davis moves. Regretfully

I had to leave early and wasn't able to get everyone's names, including

the young bearded electric bass player, who busted out the funkiest

groove of the night for one jam.

If you're tired of all the political "cool" of the new Miami, and just

want to catch some raw talent, head down to the old Miami for a reality

check and a chill pill. It don't get cooler than jazz.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: It don't get cooler than jazz.

Random Detail: No cover, no drink minimum.

By the Way: I hear Tuesday night is Blues night.

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