Cool Cleveland Sounds

Northcoast Jazz Collective
Northcoast Jazz Collective

If you’re a Fat Fish Blue fan, you’ve probably stumbled upon the Northcoast Jazz
Collective recently. You may have even become something of a NJC fan… out of default.
The quartet has been the “house band” of sorts at Fat Fish, performing there a couple
times a month for the past year. Their blend of original composition and jazz standards
has made them widely desired at local clubs and at festival events (like the First Madison
Jazz Fest) and at the Cleveland Museum of Art’s “Summer in the Courtyard” series.
The quartet features band leader Mark Grey (drums), John Gallo (bass), Dan Maier
(piano) and Dave Frank (tenor sax) and is quickly becoming one of the better known local
jazz outfits. With a blend of accessible standards and “straight-up” original, modern jazz
that is both clever and keyed-in, they certainly have a desired ambience.

                                                          Their current, self-titled CD features 9 of those
                                                          original compositions, drawing on a wide range
                                                          of that ambience. From the delicate phrasing of
                                                          “Georgie” and hazy classic-sounding chops of “In
                                                          5/4 There,” to more buoyant rhythmic lines  
                                                          (“Your Face,” “Rhumba Dolce”) and snappy
                                                          tracks like “Thump,” you can’t help but tap your
                                                          toes and smile when you hear them.

                                                          The arrangements on the disc are all exquisite
                                                          and tasteful; musically, the group goes out of
                                                          their way to keep your brain from exploding.
                                                          “Music isn’t an intellectual competition,” they
                                                          offer in the liner notes. “[c]oncentrating until your
                                                          brain hurts doesn’t make you a better listener.”

Amen to that. It may come off to some as a tad mainstream, but honestly Northcoast Jazz
Collective makes their next CD release—planned for the end of the year—even more
desirable. Great for beginners and enthusiasts alike.

Northcoast Jazz Collective is performing at 4PM on Sun 2/12 at the First Unitarian Church,
Shaker Heights.

From Cool Cleveland contributor Peter Chakerian