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JAZZ REVIEW : The Dads Steal the Spotlight

Fathers know best.

At least they did Thursday at the Wiltern Theatre when the Dads, the fathers of three of the four members of the featured Flim and the BBs, took the stand and put together as much musicality on a couple of tunes as their offspring could generate in two sets.

The Dads--Jack Oatts, alto sax; Bill Barber Sr., piano; Cliff Johnson, bass, augmented by Bill Berg (of Flim), drums--played a swing-styled version of “Out of Nowhere” that had a bubbling spirit and solos that kept the essence of the tune intact.

Most of the soft, New Age jazz-ish tunes that Flim--bassist Jimmy Johnson, keyboardist Billy Barber Jr., reedman Dick Oatts and Berg--played were concocted of simplistic melodies and had brief solos. Certainly, there were enticing moments here and there, but little in the way of consistent substance.

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The men in Flim--a quartet noted for its successful DMP label CDs that was making its local debut--can all play. Oatts knocked out some solid spotlighted moments, Barber Jr. got around the keyboards with facility and Johnson played some ethereal, warm-toned bass solos.

But overall the group’s music lacked oomph and drive. A lot of the tunes, like “High Wire” and “Invention,” seemed to hang in air like a fog, indistinct, going nowhere. This was pleasing early in the show with the lyrical “Ireland,” but after a while, the blandness grew tiresome. A more directed, energized program is needed for Flim and the BBs to have real impact.


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