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We Six @ The Jazz Estate

Feb. 11, 2017

Feb. 13, 2017
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The Wisconsin Conservatory of Music has graduated numerous students who have gone on to become heavyweights in jazz, so it’s reasonable to think that the school’s faculty specializing in the genre must be more than adept at the form, too. We Six’s date last Saturday at the Jazz Estate evidenced that the institution’s jazz program is in hands fine enough to produce more prominent players for some while.

The sextet comprised of current Conservatory faculty nearly touched shoulders taking the stage at the recently renovated, darkly plush Jazz Estate for two sets of lengthy, tight post-bop stylings. At times, it seemed as if the club’s bustle spurred on the energy of the group to greater intensity. Sometimes it was as if they were synchronizing to the barkeeps’ and servers’ pace of motion.

We arrived too late to get seats facing the stage, but that afforded us a perspective to witness the goings on adjacent to the headlining attraction. Absent much of a view of the band, the music remained nonetheless captivating. The warm syncopation of samba and bossa nova rhythms mingled through some of their ensemble’s pieces, a preponderance of which were original compositions. Interpretations of forebears including Dizzy Gillespie played up some of We Six’s roots and gave context for the direction in which they took much of the rest of the evening. 

The Estate’s system of speakers throughout the venue made the music as vibrant from our relatively faraway perch as it was from a closer view. But it may have benefited from a touch of tweaking, at least for guitarist Paul Silbergleit. The clean tone and intricate fingering of his Jim Hall-inspired playing could have stood to have been higher in the mix, as even his solos required moderately more ear strain than those afforded to Mark Davis’ piano (often reminiscent of Horace Silver’s dexterity), the trumpeting of Eric Jacobson, Wisconsin Public Radio “Whad’Ya Know” upright bassist Jeff Hamann, tenor saxophonist Eric Schoor and, as one may surmise, drummer David Bayles.      

Yet most of We Six were given copious opportunity to take the spotlight to showcase their talent sans accompaniment, meriting appreciative applause from throughout the club. Teachers possessed of musicianship of that caliber of talent teaching younger disciples at so storied a conservatory guarantees Milwaukee’s place in the pantheon of the jazz destinations—and a sophisticated night out at approachably swanky nightspots such as the Estate.

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