NATE BIRKEY QUINTET
SOHO, SANTA BARBARA, CA
19 AUGUST, 2013Nate Birkey brought his quintet back to Santa Barbara for an appearance at Soho. The former resident picked up stakes and moved to NYC seven or eight years back, so any time he makes the local scene, it's an automatic mark on the calender. Testament to his popularity came in the form of a packed house, on a Monday, no less. Birkey's sound is rooted in the cool jazz of the mid-50's, nodding to Miles and Chet Baker, but it's the originals that express his gift to the fullest, taking off in unexpected directions.
The night served as a tune-up for a studio date, and he weighted his set with a few of the numbers. The overriding theme is spirituals and hymns, and based on the songs played, should be a keeper. The vibe brought to mind the Charlie Haden/Hank Jones LP Steal Away in its focused intensity.
The high-water mark of the evening was the set closing take on "Delirio", from The Mennonites, which brought things to a full boil. All told, a night of old friends and precious sounds.