BY FRANK DE BLASE
Caught a few songs from Catherine Russell’s sensational swing set at the Harro East Ballroom before venturing into the Italian microcosm that is the Rochester Club’s “Viva Italia” series to catch the Luca Ciarla Quartet. The band’s sound was edgy and fast with the accordion player wielding the squeezebox as if it were a percussive instrument one minute, a distant relative to a drunken church organ the next. The lead violin offered some light variations at lightning speed, bringing to mind the gypsies that dance in my head nightly.
Sashayed my way to Max of Eastman Place to hear bassist/vocalist Brandi Disterheftsing sweet and spend plenty of time at the high end of the neck searching for those magic bumps and toots that live up there. This would have seemed un-pre-meditated and random had her band (Little Jimmy Scott’s boys, by the way) not tailgated her for the duration of the trip.
Missouri ’s Ha Ha Tonkaserved a heaping helping of the thrash and twang to end my night at Abilene , which has been home plate for me after doing the crowded mob mambo each night. The band is hot and sweet; hot, rootsy Americana — rootsier in fact than most — as the quartet magically pulled off five-party harmony on its opening number to a packed tent. Not sure how it did that. I think a deal with the devil might be involved.
Saw a banjo player briefly rattlin’ and twangin’ on East Avenue , but he vanished before I could get my camera out. Again, the devil may have something to do with it. And there’s been a trio playing next to Abilene all week: three dudes that play it bluesy and cool with two saxes and one guitar — and sometimes the old Benny Goodman licorice stick. I think you can summon the devil with one of those.
Speaking of Old Scratch, he’s on his way and will be accompanying me as I check out Kim Lenz and Her Jaguars and Gypsophilia Monday night. Stop and say hi… I’ll be the one with the horns.