by Caroline Sanchez
It had been exactly a year since the last time I saw Tarbaby at le Poisson Rouge, which explains why Tuesday night's performance at Jazz Standard felt a bit like dèja vu. Maybe Jazz Standard's red-and-black dècor was reminiscent of LPR's industrial-French decoupage, but the similarities ended there: the all-star ensemble could never play the same set twice.
The members of Tarbaby—Orrin Evans (piano), Eric Revis (bass), and Nasheet Waits (drums)—were joined by longtime collaborator Oliver Lake on alto saxophone, who acted as the frontman for a majority of the night. From where I was seated, I was struck by how effortlessly the collective played together, exuding an infectious energy and positive vibe that was easy to latch onto. Waits had a smile on his face for nearly the entire set, and Revis' solos—particularly on his crowd-pleasing originals "Oh" and "August"—were made even more intense by his audible singing.
Lake's brow looked permanently furrowed, as if he were in a prolonged discussion with his saxophone, a look that was softened by Orrin's presence at the piano as he motioned along with the cues. As a unit, the members of Tarbaby are evenly matched on levels beyond their ability and musicality, leaving the audience certain they've witnessed something they'll want to experience again.
Unfortunately, Tarbaby's run is over, but Orrin Evans remains at Jazz Standard through Sunday, playing in both trio and quintet formations. For more information about tickets and set times, please visit Jazz Standard's events page—or see here for info on how you can win tickets from Feast of Music!