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Drumming up some harmony

Brad Dutz's jazz trio places an emphasis on tonality, a la Shelly Manne.

August 31, 2012|By Kirk Silsbee
  • Percussionist-composer Brad Dutz in his Tujunga home. Dutz will perform with his group The Other Three at the Eagle Rock Center on Sept 2.
Percussionist-composer Brad Dutz in his Tujunga home.… (Tim Berger/Staff…)

Though it wasn’t recognized as such at the time, one of the pivotal recordings in the West Coast jazz renaissance occurred in September 1954.

Drummer Shelly Manne, one of the central figures of the postwar Los Angeles jazz flowering, recorded an unprecedented trio with trumpeter Shorty Rogers and tenor saxophonist Jimmy Giuffre. It was one of the few precedents for the free jazz explosion that followed in the ‘60s, and it’s gone largely unheralded until now.

The high-profile studio and avant garde percussionist Brad Dutz has revisited Manne’s seminal album, “The Three and the Two,” in his own trio the Other Three.

Manne (who died in 1984) and his collaborators dispensed with piano and bass, emphasizing harmonic connections. Dutz, unusually sensitive to the tonality of his many hand and mallet instruments, has enlisted two other intuitive players: trumpeter John Fumo and saxophonist Kim Richmond. Together they’ll headline at Alex Cline and Will Salmon’s monthly Open Gate Theatre concert in Eagle Rock on Sunday, along with the band Slumgum.

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Like Dutz, Manne could wring an impressive range of tonalities out of his trap kit. Cline, also a drummer, took a four-session workshop with Manne at the old Dick Grove Workshop. Coming to jazz through rock music of the ‘60s and ‘70s and the avant garde, Manne impressed him on several counts.

“I was struck by his exceptional musicality, his inventiveness and his swing — all qualities I lacked in my early playing days,” Cline says. “He never assembled his entire kit through the course of the class. But the degree of swing he achieved was actually palpable. It was life-altering for me.”

Cline’s subsequent investigation of Manne’s work led him to “The Three and the Two” album, on Contemporary. Cline brought the little-known album to Dutz’s attention a few years ago.

“Shelly was just a great all-around musician who could write as well as play,” says Dutz, from his Tujunga home. “I always loved the way he tuned his drums and the beautiful sound he got. On ‘The Three’ he approached the trap set as a third melodic instrument, exchanging with the horns.”

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