Star-Bulletin Features

Friday, June 29, 2001

"Junk Jazz" members are, from left, guitarist Chris Coddington;
Dallas Thomas, who plays flute and sax; bass player Steven
Zeigler; drummer Baba Tunji; percussionist Lindy Patterson;
and guitarist Kevin Hughes.

Live hoedown will
serve up jazz with a twist

By Gary C.W. Chun

In the ramshackle splendor of the relocated Junk Studios off old Waialae Road, members of the Junk Jazz Workshop are working through an arrangement of Miles Davis' "All Blues." The rehearsal is in strictly casual dress mode. Dallas Thomas is playing the familiar lilting opening on tenor sax, a local beatnik in shades, dark tank top, shorts and slippers topped off with a Chicago Bears cap worn backward. Guitarist Kevin Hughes is playing in tandem with Thomas on a hollow-body electric, while younger counterpart Chris Coddington is comping away on his light brown Gibson. An ornate black-pen drawing decorates the front of it with a portrait of Jimi Hendrix on the reverse.

Steven Zeigler is confidently punctuating the beat, with Babatunji Heath behind the drum kit and Lyndy Patterson on percussion trying to keep the tempo solid.

Like most of the songs they're running through that night, in preparation for tonight's Jazz Not Jazz hoedown downtown, the endings are a bit ragged and need to be worked on.

But, not to worry, between this conglomeration and the others that will be featured (ranging from straight-ahead to noisy grind-core), something has to come together. It's all in the name of promoting live music.

Hughes will be the only constant through the evening, as he's playing in all three bands: with George Hurd, Dale Machado and John Yamazaki in the Jazz Tones; this band; and with Zeigler in the ear-opening Scare Tactics (Yamazaki's son Ivan will be spinning jazz and acid jazz sounds between setups).

A private music teacher as well as a brand new papa, Hughes is pretty happy with what's been an "evolving" lineup of players. After some earlier gigs at the Wave Waikiki late last year, this grouping's been consistent the last two months.

"We originally had a keyboard player," he said, "but he didn't like some of the low ends he heard. We had an earlier bass player before Steven, but he joined up with B.E.T., and Chris wanted to sit in, so in spite of creative differences, things are coming along."

Hughes has been the one to supply the charts for the Workshop, although the elder Thomas doesn't need them since he knows these jazz standards by heart. The true itinerant musician, Thomas had gigged all over the country and, because of his love of surfing, been a resident here for 20 years, content to play with mostly underground, artistically challenging bands.

The same can be said for everyone else gathered, fans and players of punk, funk, ska and world beat, but all brought together for their collective love and appreciation for jazz, trying to stretch out and expand their musical vocabularies.

Hughes has been insistent on the band playing overall in brighter tempos, with another Davis standard, "So What," taken at a nearly funky pace. Everyone seems more confident in their playing, with Coddington adding a pungent twang to his soloing, gamely experimenting with his guitar pedals, sometimes adding some wah-wah, other times a high-pitched, reedy synth sound.

The Workshop will also be taking on Kenny Dorham's "Blue Bossa," "Footprints" by Wayne Shorter, the bop standard "Scrapple from the Apple" and a reggae-fied version of John Coltrane's "Mr. P.C."

"The idea of this band was to take some jazz standards and twist them a bit," said Hughes.

On stage

What: Jazz Not Jazz with the Junk Jazz Workshop, The Jazz Tones, Scare Tactics and DJ vinyl spins by IV
Where: Marks Garage, 1159 Nuuanu Ave.
When: 6 p.m. today
Admission: $5
Information: e-mail

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