Between sets Tuesday during trumpeter Ron Stout’s appearance at the Cafe Lido, a visitor from Boston who studied saxophone at the Berklee School of Music there let Stout know that she’d been disappointed looking for what she called a real jazz show in Southern California. Disappointed, that is, until she turned up to hear Stout’s quintet.
It was easy to understand her enthusiasm for the trumpeter’s opening set. In deference to the dinner crowd, Stout announced that he’d “keep things on the mellow side” and let them heat up as the evening progressed.
Even with this disclaimer, the first hour of music was a tasteful array of jazz and Brazilian standards, all treated with serious respect. As time went on, Stout increased the tempo and the intensity of his offerings, just as he’d promised.
Opening with a decidedly cool “Have You Met Miss Jones?,” Stout explored the tonal capabilities of his instrument, easing his way into sustained notes while adding brief flourishes here and there. Saxophonist Jerry Pinter also struck a cool pose, maneuvering his tenor with smooth deliberation through his solo.
Switching to fluegelhorn for a pair of Brazilian-inspired numbers, Stout explored the material’s rhythmic underpinnings, puffing them up with pointed accents before taking off on long, swirling lines. His unison theme statement with Pinter’s tenor at the close of “So Danco Samba” made for a delicious blend.
Stout presented a variety of sounds, turning back to trumpet, muted this time, for Miles Davis’ “Solar.” Here the mood started to intensify as Stout moved from Miles-inspired lines into his own swelling narrative, capped with a high, pure tone played without vibrato.
Pinter also took a more agitated approach, playing in a more determined fashion while retaining the light, transparent sound he’d established earlier. Both men used an earthier style on the Count Basie-Harry (Sweets) Edison stomper, “Jive at Five,” delving into the jazz tradition (Stout effectively using plunger mute for wah-wah effects) while adding contemporary twists.
The group’s other standout soloist was bassist Trey Henry, whose strongly reverberant tones and insistent attack provided many of the evening’s finest moments. His improvisation on Bruce Brown’s “From Nowhere Fast to Somewhere Slow” took in the full range of his instrument while employing stretches of two-toned double stops that added depth to his approach.
Pianist Frank Strauss was especially pleasing during the Brazilian numbers, while later adding moody phrases and questioning lines to his own “Tell Me About It.”
By the time the second set was underway, Poncho Sanchez trumpeter Sal Cracchiolo and respected trumpeter Bobby Shew were in the audience, Shew carrying a tape deck to record what his friend and former student was up to.
Stout and company didn’t disappoint. Their hot-blooded treatment of “Gone With the Wind” moved along with a hurricane’s ferocity, powered by drummer Tom White, who’d stuck entirely to brushes during the first set.
The band showed a decidedly more modern pose on Strauss’ “Tell Me About It,” with Stout moving stealthily into his trumpet solo before taking off on a series of ascending runs. Then it was more be-bop, with Stout showing an amazing ability to keep a narrative going with plenty of breath a nd ideas. All and all, this was a date worth a trip from Boston.
* The Ron Stout Quintet returns to the Cafe Lido on Sept. 14 and 28 at 8:30 p.m. Stout also leads the Sunday Jam Session from 3:30-7:30 p.m. at the Lido, 501 30th St., Newport Beach. (714) 675-2968.