Sam Most did himself no great service during his first set at Donte’s Friday night. Although the music the local jazz flutist and saxophonist provided was high-minded and spirited, his presentation was lax and ill considered.

With nary a word of appreciation or introduction, Most, in rumpled dress, offered a set in which the audience seemed more of a bother than any integral part of a musical performance. The music was fine, great even, at moments when the communication among Most’s trio of sidemen was at its peak. But the exclusion of the audience from the proceedings gave rise to non-musical distractions in the room and lessened the music’s effectiveness.

Most, accompanied by pianist Frank Collett, bassist John Gianelli and drummer Roy McCurdy, opened the set with “Like Someone in Love.” Within the gently swinging framework of the tune, Most parlayed his eloquent melodic flute statements into equally eloquent improvisations. Similar was his approach to “Old Folks,” a haunting ballad in which Collett played with such inspiration and keen musicality as to make one wonder why the pianist has not attained greater stature in the larger jazz world.


Most showed himself a capable hard bopper on “Speak Low,” in which he played tenor saxophone, and on Thelonious Monk’s “Straight, No Chaser,” in which he and Collett shared brisk unison melody lines. Drummer McCurdy and bassist Gianelli provided ample support throughout, with the latter soloing admirably on occasions.

This quartet could easily make a strong impact on the jazz scene, provided its leadership included just a hint of showmanship.