Mike Del Ferro - p (website | myspace)
Frank Vaganée - as, ss (Jazz in Belgium)
Jos Machtel - b
??? - d
After the restaurant gigs, now I'm going to concerts in the bars of dauntingly swank hotels. I figured out why I don't like them: if I went somewhere to hang out and talk, I wouldn't enjoy having music I didn't like inflicted upon me, either. The crowd was surprisingly attentive, but the lurking possibility still disturbed. Also, I paid 4 euros for a Stella, which is not so much reassuringly expensive beer as totally terrible beer. For that price, though, I made it last.
The Palace Music Club is in its second season, I think. Its particularity is that Philip Catherine is its godfather. Their Thursday concerts are mostly ignorable, but from time to time they have a worthwhile jazz group (Catherine himself is playing there in April).
Mike Del Ferro and Frank Vaganée co-led a band that made a couple of CDs ten years ago, but hadn't played together since. Every tune explored a slightly different area: bright bop blues, a soft, romantic 3/4 ballad with a pop-tinged melody, a calypso, "an Italian opera song" that sounded like an inspirational ballad and finally some uptempo, interval-leaping, stop 'n' go bop.
Vaganée is the leader of the Brussels Jazz Orchestra and a good straight-ahead player. On "La Golondrina," he milked long-note prettiness for all it was worth, using his purest, most voluptuous tone. Del Ferro took a more diffuse and reflective approach to his romanticism, but dug into "Bunga Bunga"'s calypso rhythm with relish.
It could have been an okay gig, but there were sound problems that made the bass (Jos Machtel, also from the BJO, has this really strange right hand technique, plucking with his thumb) and drums boomy and overwhelming. Mostly, though, the drummer, whose name I didn't catch, wasn't really happening, so I left after the first set. I had another place to be, anyway...