Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Group Lets Jazz Do the Talking; Longtime Friends Form New Band

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Group Lets Jazz Do the Talking; Longtime Friends Form New Band

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Faulkner, Shorelines correspondent

The Second String jazz trio has been together for only two months. In fact, the players -- bassist Billy Thornton, pianist Eric Brigmond and drummer Paul Lentz -- just settled on a name last week. But you'd never guess that when you hear them play.

The group performs straight-ahead jazz each Wednesday at Cafe Sonoma in Jacksonville Beach. Thornton, Brigmond and Lentz have known each other for years and their chemistry comes across when they pull tunes from their mental catalogs of jazz standards.

It's the type of music that requires no set lists. Tunes are called out, considered and played or dismissed. The musicians' eyes close as they drop in and out of solos, focusing on the performance at that moment. Every melody and tempo change is carefully worded like part of a conversation.

In short, it's not a typical live music event. It's all part of the trio's master plan to give straight-ahead jazz a foothold at the Beaches.

Thornton, Brigmond and Lentz realize the challenge ahead of them. Although they love jazz, they play other styles of music at Beaches nightclubs; Brigmond is one of the founding members of rock/funk band 3, and Thornton and Lentz played bass and drums in Groove Pocket until July, when their band's singer left for New York City.

None of them expects Second String will become his primary gig. Instead, as three musicians who make their living playing in front of reveling bar patrons each Friday and Saturday night, this is their weekend.

"We play together because we're such good friends, and we're really close to each other," Lentz said. "I play differently in this group than I do with a lot of people. It's definitely more like a conversation going on between us than it is with a lot of people."

The three play jazz just like they talk. They complete each other's sentences off stage, they'll trade off the melodies to a Duke Ellington or Cole Porter tune on stage. The level of communication stirred Brigmond's interest.

"It takes a long time to play with people and get a group concept," he said. …

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