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In the Flow

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The 2011 In the Flow festival came to an end at Luna’s Café on Monday night after five days of enjoyable music at different venues. Jazz, rock, electronic, noise, poetry, spoken word, blues and other genres were delivered by talented musicians from May 12 to 16.

On a rainy Monday evening, several bands came to share the small stage at Luna’s. The intimate setting provided great entertainment and gave it a delightful jazz club ambiance.

In the Flow is the brainchild of Ross Hammond and Byron Blackburn. Performers play smaller venues such as La Raza Galeria Posada, Luna’s, Antiquité Maison Privée, Phono Select Records and the Press Club. Hammond’s grassroots approach is creative and provides a great platform for many musicians. The festival is now in its fourth year, and I’m sure will continue to grow.

Saturday and Sunday provided most of the entertainment for the festival, but other scheduled performances delighted audiences throughout Midtown.

Art Luna, one of the owners of Luna’s Cafe, was working behind the counter as his establishment hosted the evening’s event. The first performers introduced were Wes Steed and Kevin Corcoran, utilizing a synthesizer, drums and various noisemaking instruments.

West Steed and Kevin Corcoran, In the Flow performance at Luna’s Cafe

In the Flow makes is possible for performers such as Steed and Corcoran to be seen and heard by people who may not be aware of music like theirs. When they perform in electronic, innovative or noise venues, they may be known and appreciated, but In the Flow provides them with exposure to new audiences.

Hammond, who also hosts Nebraska Mondays at Luna’s, introduced the next group, the Element Brass Band. Every inch of the stage was taken up by the band, so that the tuba player had to stand next to the stage.

Their lead singer, who also plays trumpet, asked those in attendance how they were. Some audience members responded.

Element Brass Band’s In the Flow performance at Luna’s Cafe

“You’ve got to do better than that, because there’s about to be a party in here, just so you know,” he said. “We’re about to do a little New Orleans jazz. Hope you enjoy.”

The deep sound of the tuba got everyone moving, touching the soul and making the body move. As other instruments began their beat, the soulful brass sounds evoked images of New Orleans. The band played several songs that were greatly appreciated by the audience.

I haven’t heard such a great sounding brass section in a while. I was thinking about how great it would have been if they had started playing down the street on 16th and made their way into Luna’s, bringing with them more people. They ended their set with “When the Saints Go Marching In.”

The Anthony Coleman Quartet was up next, playing several smooth jazz tunes as the audience sat back and enjoyed a delightful set. Coleman and his group ended their set with Eugene McDaniels’ “Feel Like Making Love.”

Anthony Coleman and friends’ In the Flow performance at Luna’s Cafe

The four-person band Drifting Shapes played what I would classify experimental/electronica. The lights were dimmed even more, making it hard to see the band, but it set the mood for their musical performance.

The Drifting Shapes’ In the Flow performance at Luna’s Cafe

The Drifting Shapes’ sound touched various genres and incorporated them into their electro sound. The lovely voice of their lead singer was very soothing and flowed as she integrated some Spanish lyrics, bringing to mind “Cielito Lindo” as she repeated “canta y no llores.” The music also included what sounded like opera, electronic, Japanese traditional music and Latin samples.

The festival concluded with Race, taking the stage and performing for 20 minutes or so. An electric and an acoustic guitar, drums, an upright bass, two saxophones and a microphone were the instruments used for the last set.

Race’s In the Flow performance at Luna’s Cafe

Hammond and his free jazz collective band played the last few songs of the evening, ending a great five days of innovative, experimental, free-flowing and lively jazz music in Sacramento.

Hammond and many other musicians surround themselves with musicians with various styles and genres, creating new and innovative sounds for Northern California to enjoy. The talent in our area continues to grow, attracting musicians from other areas to perform at festivals like In the Flow, and it gives Sacramento audiences a great opportunity to enjoy the old and new sounds of jazz.

Satisfy your appetite with the delicious sounds of rock, blues, electronica, experimental, noise, improvisational sounds, poetry, spoken word and jazz that come together for the annual In the Flow festival. This combination of music is true food for the soul.


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