Dmitri Matheny is one of the country's preeminent flugelhorn players, and a serious movie lover. In his second performance in the KNKX studios, Dmitri returned to a pair of film melodies and gave us a look at an upcoming project with a pair of top Seattle jazz musicians and two more from out of town.
Singer Holly Pyle is a friend of Dmitri's from the Phoenix area, an exciting vocalist who's known to push beyond the limits of jazz. She's an expert in looping vocal effects and also has experience in opera, pop, funk and hip-hop styles.
Live on 88.5 with Dmitri's band, however, Ms Pyle played it straight ahead. That isn't to say her performance was less than amazing, knocking out our studio audience with commanding readings of "I'm Beginning to See the Light" (recently appearing in the film Manchester By the Sea) and "Black Orpheus" (from the romantic 1959 Brazilian classic).
Along with Pyle and Seattle stalwarts Bill Anschell and Mark Ivester at piano and drums, Dmitri also brought his friend Tom Knific to play on this Puget Sound tour.
Knific is a popular bassist and Director of Jazz Studies at Western Michigan University. He also taught a teenaged Dmitri at Interlochen Arts Academy, and locked down each song in the KNKX studios with a few tasty solos to boot.
Matheny was masterful throughout, harmonizing with Pyle's vocals as if singing himself. His mellow brass voice was a perfect foil for her upper register vocal flights.
Pointing to his upcoming project of Burt Bacharach songs, Dmitri and his friends finished with a preview - taking the Carpenters' 1970 pop hit to a much cooler, jazz locale. I've never been a fan of the cheesy Karen Carpenter version, so Holly Pyle's beautiful and daring reading was a much-appreciated breath of fresh air.
Considering his band mates and the promise of improvising around classic Bacharach pop, I'm eagerly looking forward to the next chapter in the Dmitri Matheny jazz franchise.