Sunday, October 25, 2009

Review: Dotsero at Stargazers Theatre, Saturday 10/24/2009

stephen watts

Saturday night at Stargazers featured Dotsero, a contemporary smooth jazz band that has established a strong following in Colorado as the house band at Jazz@Jacks in Denver. They've released several CDs, the first of which, "Off the Beaten Path" (Nova Records/March 1990) got some national attention. They've played with or opened for Spyro Gyra, Dave Grusin, Lee Ritenour, David Sanborn, Wynton Marsalis, David Benoit, the Yellowjackets, and many more. Having played the JVC Winter Park Jazz Fest, Jazz Trax Catalina Island Jazz Fest, The Cancun Jazz Festival and many other jazz festivals, and having had their CD Jubilee spend 10 weeks on Billboards Contemporary Jazz chart, these guys have been around.

Core band members Stephen Watts and David Watts who play sax and guitar respectively were joined on stage by Tom Capek on keyboards, Marvin Craft on bass, and Jeff Woods on drums.

stephen watts

A pleasant piece called "Just Because" opened the night with Stephen playing a curved soprano sax before switching to a space-alien sounding midi wind controller... kind of an electronic sax you can drive through a computer or synthesizer or sampler to generate practically any sound you can think of (or mixtures of sounds in this case). I'm not a connoisseur of these things and the sounds it produced struck me as rather odd in this case.

The band moved into "Jeepers Creepers", a nice number featuring keyboardist Capek providing perfect light hip licks with the band building into a heavy syncopation with proud keyboard strokes offset by heavy drum and bass accompaniment. A few songs later the band played "Late At Night", with a slow dreamy intro that alternated between strong dynamics and classic cool jazz which I refer to as "late night with your honey" jazz - characterized by a good punchy rhythm with a nice solid groove like a soft summer breeze in an open convertible.

The only negative thing I think I heard was that the sax kept trending towards being a little sharp at this point and it took a few songs before I felt like it was consistently back on point.

marvin craft

Several songs followed, one featuring the incredible bass talent of Marvin Craft, one featuring the jazzy guitar lines of David Watts, then into one with Stephen Watts blowing his curved soprano again while sitting on the front of the stage. As he gets up to close out this number, he blew into the opening riffs of Santana's "Oye Como Va" which jumped into hyper-drive during a cut-time slash and burn funked out interlude with a nice drum jam by Jeff Woods.

david watts

The band took the first of 2 breaks during their three sets coming back to play "Two of a Kind" and the up-tempo Rippingtons crowd pleaser "Morocco". "Jumping Through Hoops" - which starts off a nice slow jazzy introspective piece turns up the back beat without you even noticing and it just grooves off into the sunset with some fine syncopation, the insistent sax hitting notes dead on. "Always There" was destined to carry us to the second intermission but not until featuring tight syncopation between mirrored guitar/sax riffs, a heavy bass and drum section, a self-indulgent sax solo leading into audience participation "Hey Jude". The band and the audience needed a break to catch our breath here!

Nice continued funked-out and soulful jazz numbers followed until one of the Dotsero fans yelled "LODO MOJO!" which the band was happy to oblige with. "Lighthouse in the Rockies", a hip version of "Spooky" and then a funky jam "ditty" closed-out the night to the applause and cheers of the audience.

All in all a nice mellow trip down a contemporary jazz highway brought to Stargazers by Dotsero.

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