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The Paul Giess Group @ Ortlieb’s.

March 3, 2015

leister_paulgiessText and images by Matthew Leister.

Here in Philly, jazz musicians work and play as a tight group. Working the bar and restaurant scene is the best way to gain exposure. Jam sessions can be found at regular hotspots throughout the city. Usually, the freewheeling nature of these sessions serves to allow for a looseness and carefree performance of original tunes and standards mixed together at the whim of the band members.

Last week, the Paul Giess Group debuted material from their new album entitled U Suite U at Ortlieb’s. At the Northern Liberties mainstay that famously serves its beer wet, the stage can now be found in the back of the bar with the old side stage turned into a seating area. The narrow path to the stage opens up in front of the acts and allows room for the music to breathe.

Giess, a Philly trumpet player, wrote this suite and recorded it many months ago with friends from the local jazz scene. Tom Moon, the NPR regular and former Philadelphia Inquirer music critic, plays the saxophone. Ryan McNeely, active in several different groups in the region, plays guitar. Local pianist Patrick Fink, plays the Fender Rhodes and singer Alexa Barchini lends her pipes to the original tunes. Filling out the rhythm section is Joseph Plowman on bass and Claudio De Pujades on the drums. Luke Bauerlein makes a guest appearance doing a spoken word piece mid way through the performance.

The suite was executed smoothly and impressively as all of the musicians are masters of their craft and play together on a regular basis on a plethora of other projects. Tom Moon’s Ensemble Novo opened up the evening with all of the musicians above while subbing out Paul Giess for percussionist Jim Hamilton. You have never seen anything like Mr. Hamilton playing the tambourine. It is a thing of beauty. Novo’s Bossanova style served as an appropriate mood setter for the jazz tunes brought forth by Giess’ group.

The music never stopped and the packed bar celebrated the album that has been in the works for over a year.

We were able to spend a day with them in the recording studio and witnessed some of the creation happen.


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