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Muse And Music Presents the John Moore Ambrosini Trio, Thursday, June 9th, 2011

John Ambrosini is wrong!

In explaining his composition "Ocala" to Muse And Music's guest host Clinton Blume III, he states that he wants to tell a story in the song, indeed that's what he does in his entire Nine Stories album, due for release this September.


1.That's not what art does


2. That isn't what Ambrosini is doing.

"Ocala" is a city near Gainesville in Florida, a place John has intense affection for and where John goes to ride horses with a woman named Lorraine, for wom he also appears to have intense affection for. That's not a story. If he fell off the horse and broke his leg and immobile spent the summer learning how to play piano which lead him to this performance, then it would be a story. And the song itself, his songs, aren't  stories: they aren't, in Nabakov's words,  thesis, antithesis, synthesis and new thesis. What "Ocala" is, what musical composition is, is the expression of what is ineluctable through its transmogrification into a different medium so these affections, feelings, that can't be spoken can still be shared. This is John Moore Ambrosini's gift.

And in five superb compositions on Thursday night that is precisely what he does. He shares his gift. On "Ocala", even before Ambrosini explains the song, it seems to saunter in beauty and peace: it is a roiling canter of a song, as lush as the greenness that Ambrosini claims for it.

This is the fourth Muse And Music and each one has been special. The first three had Joseph Franklin and Donna McElroy presiding but they are in South Carolina to watch their son graduate High School and last night it was the executive director of the General Society Of Mechanics And Technicians of the City of the New York Clint Blume III who is MCing and the place is jamming despite a thunderstorm. Some people have traveled from as far afield as Long Island and they won't be disappointed.

John leads a three piece band through the 5 compositios, two of which, "Here I Wait" and "Prairie Train" sport killer melodies, one a stomper with John banging the keyboards like a vicious Elton John. That composition "A Rode Home" actually reminds, or puts me in the mind of "An American In Paris": both of them feel impatient, chomping at the bit, ready to get there. John seems more circumspect in his remarks but, with the excellent Marcus McLaurie on stand up bass, it tussles with you.

They are a tight band and John is a good leader. John understands the first principle of management perfectly well, he delegates responsibility and has made such wise choices, he can lead forwards or backwards, or drop out altogether as he does on drummer Donny Donable's solo, and remain in charge, in control.

There is a precision that puts you in mind of the old adage that great musicians are similar to mathematicians. There is an element of an equation to  be satisfied in the Trio and while they may claim that jazz is an improvisational art form, that doesn't mean that seeing where a song goes is the same as leaving it to go wherever it chooses. It is controlled freedom. John is an engineer by trade and he has the poise of a successful man. This is what ties his music to his muse, as he puts it: building a building and composing a song are about getting the right people and organizing the construction.

The  reward is a number like "A Rode Home" based on a terrific bass lick and which John admits to having written with a bassist as skilled as Marcus in mind. And the reward is a night as terrific as Thursday was, where you can listen intently and hear the ticking of a man's heart, of his deepest feelings being expressed and shared. If you want to call that a story, be my guest.

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