Dave Solazzo Trio – Alias Coffee Roasters – Review

Written by on April 7, 2024

Dave Solazzo Trio – Alias Coffee Roasters – Review – by Liam Sweeny.

It was for the ages. A snowpocalypse in April. An earthquake in Jersey. A looming eclipse. And I have a date. Now when you haven’t had a date in any of the collectible calenders on your dresser, you need to stand out. And as I’m planning the evening, I realize I need both sizzle and steak.

Alias Coffee Roasters, from the outside, is an unassuming coffee shop within two blocks of what is arguably considered South Troy. Its name in yellow neon shines through a meticulously washed window encased in white painted brick. Inside, a quiet, friendly man named Hernan creates with Colombian beans and finds expression in espresso and he favors the hiss of the steam behind the machine, behind the counter, behind a night that will beckon the awake.

In the corner, larger than life and wearing a mustard scarf, Joe Barna. When he’s not behind a set of drums, he’s, in a way, homeless. But out in the coffee shop, he’s not begging for change, or for anything; he’s welcoming us in with a smile because after years, I’m finally here and everything I heard about what Joe can do with two sticks and a time signature is about the closest thing to an autograph that I’ll find on the CDs for sale on the table.

We order our drinks and we take to the main room in the back, off to the right, just past the bathroom. Huge. It’s Dr, Who’s Tardis, bigger on the inside. Much bigger. Brick walls that you imagine once soaked up the sounds of machinery are now bearing sedate and colorful prints. You can hear a pin drop; she reminds me of this when I’m engaging in idle chatter and just one person stops talking. You know the joke.

It’s the first time I’ve ever been called out by name at a show at which I’m not playing. “Liam Sweeny from Xperience!” Joe says. A gesture of solidarity between two writers trying to fashion their passions into words on fresh newsprint. It’s the sitting ovation that throws me. We’ve come a long way.

Then I hear the tapping of the snare after Joe sits down and the first song is called. Then Tarik Shah takes his standup bass for a walk and Dave Solazzo starts pulling notes out of the piano. And then it doesn’t matter if anyone can hear me talk because the song takes my words and puts them in my pocket.

I have an hour before six feet, eight inches, and four hundred pounds have a Mexican standoff at my lower lumbar. But until then, I’m rapt as pure, unadulterated jazz explodes through the room, beat, rhythm and melody twisting double helical to bring the old greats and the new to play with the DNA. It has all the feel of a crowd of hardened jazz travelers with canvas rucksacks filled with worn CDs, names that they treasure their knowing of. We’re in a secret jazz club that keep its secret because the whole world hasn’t been there yet.

Dave is easily able to change the direction of the heart of a movement and send it up into the rafters like a dove in the hand of a magician. And Tarik is guiding a dance done not with feet but with notes, to which Joe brings the staccato rip of the edge of a peal of thunder, its body filling out with brushes and in my luck, I stayed long enough to hear that cat go the hell off, just hypnotic.

I’ve never heard Joe drum before, and even as I knew he was good, there still could’ve been a mass delusion of hype. But nope; he’s that good.

It was a fun date. We had hotdogs and fries from Famous Lunch. We walked around the city taking pictures of graffiti. But the show at Alias was it for me. She liked it to.



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