Percussionist and composer Damon Short has been an active part of the local jazz community since settling here in the late 80s, and before that he participated from the relative proximity of Rock Island, where he was born. Under his own steam Short recorded a set of sessions in 1990 with a group that included guest star Paul Smoker, the onetime Iowan trumpeter, but these terrific studio dates, which finally came out late last year as All of the Above, were passed over by likely labels worldwide. Short is a fine composer and strong arranger, and this disc would have made sense on Italy’s Black Saint/Soul Note, Switzerland’s hat ART, or Germany’s Enja labels–no disrespect intended to our city’s own Southport Records, which wisely chose to release the record. Some of Short’s pieces have the long lines of Anthony Braxton’s mid-70s quartet scores, while “Then, As Now” manages to mix Albert Ayler-ish folkiness with a lush, deeply soulful sentiment. His percussion work is multifarious too. He’s never overbearing when behind the kit, whether stirring the caldron with brushes or providing pulsed or unpulsed energy with sticks. He uses tuned percussion to his advantage as well, integrating vibes into his intrepid, many-hued concept. This quintet concert–with Ryan Shultz on bass trumpet, Rudy Mahanthappa on reeds, John McLean on guitar, and Dan Anderson on tuba–should be an ideal place to catch up on Short’s current line of inquiry. Friday, 10 PM, Lunar Cabaret and Full Moon Cafe, 2827 N. Lincoln; 327-6666.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo/Marc PoKempner.