Springtime Music Is In The Air: The Daniel Chavez Quartet & Marriah Secrist at The Bohemian Club
– by Lee Greene
No doubt about it: Springtime has arrived in the Rogue Valley. The temperature has already topped the 80 degree mark several times and even reached 90 in the first week of April 2016. That means lots of good things, like blossoming flowers, busy birds and bees, and of some note to this publication (Performing Arts Reviews), the return of warm weather, live, outdoor music. Of course, we enjoy an abundance of that here, with outdoor live music in the evenings offered at many wineries like Paschal Winery in Talent where Salsa Brava [shameless plug] recently opened their 2016 season, and Edenvale Winery in Medford, among others, restaurants including several lining Ashland Creek off the Ashland Downtown Plaza and Bella Union in Jacksonville, to name a couple, and soon, the Britt Music Festivals in Jacksonville and the Ashland City Band concerts in Ashland’s Lithia Park. But I want to write now about a pleasant new discovery for me personally, in Medford: The Bohemian Club where I spent a very pleasurable recent Thursday evening listening to the enjoyable and exceptional jazz stylings of The Daniel Chavez Quartet & vocalist Marriah Secrist, while dining on a delicious (and normally hard for me to find) healthy meal that was compatible with my pernicious and carb/sugar intolerant diabetes.
The Bohemian Club has a relatively spacious outdoor patio dining area at the rear of the facility, which was packed with people, enjoying the food, wine and beer (representatives of Edenvale Winery were present at the time, offering tasting samples and discounted bottles and cases of their fine wine – but The Bohemian Club drink menu has an extensive collection of wines from many wineries and beers from many brewers), while listening to the music on the evening I was there. There is a small stage near the entryway and a large fire pit surrounded by chairs facing the stage, with a lively and quite warm fire going in it that evening – no reason to get a chill, even when it’s not a warm evening.
Let me begin by discussing the food, then I’ll get to the music. The menu was extensive (I am reproducing it on the left and it pretty well fills the length of the page). Most of the people in the patio were eating food: lots of fries (they offer different kinds), burgers (lots of kinds of those too), nachos (and those) and steaks. It ALL looked appetizing going by on the servers’ trays, and everybody looked happy with their meals, not a disappointment or complaint in sight or earshot. Having to deal with my problematic diabetes by eating very carefully, I scoured the menu and was delighted to find Pulled Pork BBQ (they offer at least 4 different kinds of BBQ too!), which I could choose with side orders of salad and seasonal vegetables – my doctor couldn’t have prescribed a better meal for me. The Pulled Pork was tender and delicious –best I’ve had here in the Rogue Valley, and the salad and vegetables hit the spot. A truly perfect meal for me – confirmed the following morning, when my blood glucose tested a very healthy 92 mg/dL. There just aren’t very many restaurants around where I can have a delicious meal like that, while doing a solid for my diabetes diet.
But the meal was NOT what brought me to The Bohemian Club – the outdoor live music was. Daniel Chavez is a gifted saxophone player, a graduating SOU senior, and student of the noted saxophone virtuoso and teacher, Rhett Bender. Chavez has been playing professional gigs for some time with various ensembles (I heard him last year performing impressively with Salsa Brava), and has taken the next step of forming and leading a quartet of his own, which he has been actively and busily booking in gigs at a variety of venues around the Rogue Valley. That evening at The Bohemian Club, The Daniel Chavez Quartet consisted of himself on saxophone (he had almost as many as The Bohemian Club has BBQ varieties), Brandon Crafts on guitar, Jake Riggs on string bass & everywhere percussionist Mike Fitch on drums. They were good, the jazz stylings were smooth, tight, with a full plate of solo cadenzas by all four musicians sprinkled in among the various pieces they played. Mr. Chavez’s saxophone rifts, in particular, were outstanding and memorable, and Mr. Fitch really provides a nice touch with drums and percussion to keep everything tight. But Mr. Chavez, being no fool, knew exactly how to ratchet their musical offerings up to the next level – by adding an exceptional vocalist, which he found in the lovely Ms. Marriah Secrist, who can be discovered tending bar at The Bohemian Club when she isn’t using her superb talent and voice singing vocals for ensembles like The Daniel Chavez Quartet.
The Quartet performed a large, extensive, and varied playlist of numbers, including: Moondance, Perdido, Peggy’s Blue Skylight, Kary’s Trance, Dream a Little Dream, Hackensack, I Could Write a Book, Easy To Love, Ceora, 317 East 32nd St., Corcovado, Once I Loved, Polka Dots & Moonbeams, Sandu, Night In Tunisia, Bye Bye Blackbird, and Gee Baby Ain’t I Good to You, most of them with Ms. Secrist fronting on vocals, but not all. Occasionally, Ms. Secrist would take a break and the Quartet would play a few purely instrumental numbers.
To give you a little sample of the splendid music the pairing of Ms. Secrist with the Quartet produced, here is a one minute excerpt recording of Vocalist Marriah Secrist and The Daniel Chavez Quartet performing Van Morrison’s Moondance at The Bohemian Club that evening:
Ms. Secrist who has a lovely, smokey, vocal style and provided very pleasant and valuable vocals to the Quartet’s musical stylings also added an aire of allure to the ensemble: she held center stage behind the vocal mic in a stunning single-strap black and sequined gown – the sounds from all five personnel were great, but all eyes most of the time were on the dazzling and elegant torch singer, Ms. Secrist.
Here’s another excerpt recording for your pleasure: a snippet of Vocalist Marriah Secrist and The Daniel Chavez Quartet performing Antônio Carlos Jobim’s Corcovado – Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars at The Bohemian Club that evening.
As I already mentioned, Mr. Chavez has been actively and busily booking The Daniel Chavez Quartet in gigs at a variety of venues around the Rogue Valley. The Quartet will be playing on Sunday, May 1 and again on Sunday, June 5, from 5-7 pm both dates, at the Public House at 258 A St. in Ashland. But if you want to hear and see the captivating Ms. Secrist singing with the Quartet, you will have to catch them again at The Bohemian Club, where they will be performing monthly – check The Bohemian Club’s Facebook page to ascertain the dates and times they’ll be performing there. I will certainly be back there – to one of the very few places I know where I can enjoy some excellent live jazz outdoors while dining on a delicious, satisfying and healthy diabetic-friendly meal. And if you really enjoy exceptional saxophone performing, you might consider attending Mr. Chavez’s senior recital, wrapping up his remarkable academic career at Southern Oregon University (yes, he does still need to snare that academic degree), on Monday, April 25 at 7:30 pm. at SOU Music Recital Hall, on S. Mountain Av., Ashland. Admission is free and he will be joined in performances on stage by his Quartet guitarist Brandon Crafts, bassist Garret Baxter, and drummer Jake Riggs, as well as pianist Jodi French.