Carolinian – Arts & Entertainment
Issue: 4/16/02

The Fab Foursome
By Rae Marcus

The Exchange on Tate Street is a very misleading place, or, as one patron put it, “it has a severe case of identity disorder.” Alternately (and sometimes all at once) The Exchange is a restaurant, bar, and nightclub. Last Thursday, a combo known as the High Rollers Quartet played there to a mixed but appreciative crowd. The quartet played bebop jazz, which is identified as playing as many notes as humanly possible in a relatively short time frame. Each member- Aaron Burnett on saxophone, John Cave on guitar, Brian Tyndall on bass, and Jonathan Pratt on drums- had excellent technique. Burnett’s long flourishes, Pratt’s Latin-style rhythms, and Cave’s extended solos all came together and melded to make a flowing, spirited sound that had the whole place tapping its feet.

Oscar Wilde once noted that “when you play bad music, people don’t talk, and when you play good music, people don’t listen.” While Wilde’s aphorisms usually tend to be right, this one was far from true when applied to the High Rollers, who managed to liven the atmosphere while patrons still ordered drinks and had conversations. The music was not a backdrop to the night, more accurately it was part of the entire experience. Like seasoned rock stars playing jazz for a night, the group was focused and concentrated on playing well and having musical integrity while still managing to have fun and crack an occasional smile. The set consisted mostly of standards like “Night in Tunisia,” and the selections gave each member a chance to show off and do his own solos, which served to further highlight the unique talents of each musician.

The startling fact came out after the set was completed that this was the group’s very first time playing together. Several of the members also perform individually or in pairs, but this was their first time playing in the particular combination. If this performance is any indication, the foursome will have even better ones yet to come.

Upcoming High Rollers dates are April 18 at Cup A Joe’s (which will be broadcast live) and April 24 at the Greensboro Coliseum.