Jonathan Lorentz expects to be in a spirited mood as he counts down the opening notes at Amoskeag Studio on April 5. Delfeayo Marsalis, the highly regarded trombonist, composer and producer, will join the Laconia saxophone player and his trio for a program dedicated to jazz music’s soulful side. The performance will come after a day spent in the studio recording a new album that will feature Marsalis on at least four cuts.
The collaboration came together quickly, though plans to make the record, called Soul Revival, started last fall.
“As we were getting ready to record, I got wind of Delfeayo being in town … looking to fill out his schedule with more work,” Lorentz said in a phone interview. After a gig in Portsmouth fell through, “I said, ‘How about a recording?’ — and he was up for it.”
Landing Marsalis is a formidable feat. His production credits include Harry Connick Jr., Spike Lee and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. He’s worked with father Ellis and uncles Branford and Wynton Marsalis, with whom he shared an NEA Jazz Masters Award in 2011. Noted critic Philip Elwood called him “one of the best, most imaginative and musical of the trombonists of his generation.”
It will be a weekend of musical synergy for Lorentz and his band mates, organist Andy Carballeira and drummer Brooke Sofferman. Prior to the Manchester show they’ll perform a pair of shows with Marsalis at Sanbornton’s Sant Bani School, one for students and another for the public. All the performances will emphasize Lorentz’s current soulful direction.
The groove-rich material on offer has roots in Lorentz’s set at last September’s Laconia Coffee Festival.
“A trio with sax, organ and drums and no bass player — the organ player covers all the bass lines — is a classic format that’s been around for eons. But I discovered it for myself,” said Lorentz. “It was an aha! moment — all of a sudden, instead of straight up jazz fare, there was a lot of soul music and a few gospel tunes and blues.”
Sometimes a tune like “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” or a jazz standard was called out. Much of the near four-hour show, however, was improvised.
“Like any typical jazz performance, 90 percent ends up being off the cuff and on the spot,” recalled Lorentz. The experience awakened something in him.
“What we thought was going to be a fun outing turned into a whole directional shift for me. Since then … all I want to do is get together with this organ trio and play.”
Last summer, he began working with Amoskeag, a Mill District photography studio, gallery and listening room run by Matthew Lomanno. A long-term project of mounting short regional tours of visiting jazz performers was winding down.
“We called it NH Jazz Presents Tour and I had some incredible players like Gary Smulyan, who is a Grammy-winning baritone sax player,” said Lorentz. “It was really great, but it got physically and financially draining.”
Lorentz continues to book shows at Laconia’s Jazz Bar, a club he launched, as well as The Press Room in Portsmouth and other venues. In July, he brought his first jazz act to Amoskeag, the Johannes Wallmann Quintet. He and Lomanno clicked, and kept working together.
“Now, I’m a supporter and a quarterback every once in a while with some publicity stuff,” said Lorentz. “I just adore the space ... it is a little taste of Brooklyn.”
The Marsalis show came together quickly, with Lorentz characteristically following his instincts.
“It was just great luck that he was available that night, so we just put this together a few weeks ago,” Lorentz said. “I will always jump at any opportunity to put on a great show with great people.”
As seen in the April 3, 2014 issue of The Hippo.