Pin It
Favorite

Staying on the Beat 

In a tiny room in a dark bar in a corner of the city, Don Goodwin and friends are keeping Spokane jazz alive.

click to enlarge Dru Heller (drums), Don Goodwin (keys), Josh Simon (bass): committing acts of public syncopation - AMY HUNTER
  • Amy Hunter
  • Dru Heller (drums), Don Goodwin (keys), Josh Simon (bass): committing acts of public syncopation

Jazz audiences can seem like a thoughtful bunch — always furrowing their brows and concentrating. Why don’t they get up and dance? Well, they’re listening— really listening, with something like the intensity involved in reading a good story. Don’t bother me, man. I gotta hear what happens next.

It’s been happening at the Swamp. In an out-of-the-way industrial sector squeezed between the freeway and the railroad tracks, the friendly neighborhood tavern has offered, for the past two years’ worth of Tuesdays, the closest thing Spokane has had to a consistent jazz club since the demise of ella’s at CenterStage in 2008.

Keyboardist Don Goodwin has been leading the charge, and on a recent Tuesday night, the opening set was typical for Goodwin’s trio: a mix of standards, Goodwin’s own originals, and more contemporary pieces by the likes of Keith Jarrett.

During Ben Allison’s “Harlem River Line,” it was fun to watch the interplay: Josh Simon’s bass guitar thumping and handing off to Goodwin’s keyboard for some up-tempo runs, and then the brighter colors of tonight’s guest trumpeter, Kevin Woods, coming in before drummer Dru Heller shifted the rhythm and launched into a solo.

Suddenly pensive listeners became less pensive: The man next to me slapped his thigh and jumped in his seat. Some guy in the back bellowed, “Yeah!!”

One of the pleasures of jazz in live performance is seeing the improvisations happen. Woods would state a brassy melody, then Heller would point with his sticks so that Goodwin could coax chords out of his synthesizer before making eye contact with Simon and opening up space for a bass solo.

“Creating or composing music right now, based on a framework that’s happening around you,” Goodwin would later write in an email, has its own special joys. “It’s at once leading the group to certain places while also allowing yourself to be led by the other members of the group. The framework that you’re working from can be as complex as many chord changes in rapid succession — with rhythmic hits to follow — or it can be a simple chord groove with a repeating bass line.

“Either way, you’re simply trying to create something meaningful — almost like writing your own chapter of the book — while being a member of the ensemble.”

Goodwin may be a university instructor — his day job involves teaching everything from small-group jazz to music theory to marching band at EWU — but he warns potential listeners away from regarding jazz as too brainy.

After all, you can clearly hear rock and pop in the jazz they’re playing. “We make a concerted effort every week to play quite a few songs that people will recognize from other genres — i.e., Beatles songs, Radiohead songs, Bjork songs, etc.,” Goodwin writes. “Also, I find my favorite type of song to improvise over is one in which there is a consis tent

groove over a repetitive bass line, and that is decidedly funk/rock/pop-influenced. In other words, a large portion of what we do is rock or pop music. It’s just that there isn’t a vocalist who delivers a message in the song — it’s up to the listeners to create a narrative based on the sound of the instruments.”

By 10 pm, an hour into the three-hour gig, two dozen people are listening — some talking, some intent. In keeping with the groove, heads nod up and down. Underneath tables, legs bob with the beat.

The Swamp folks aren’t dancing in the aisles or going crazy. They’re sitting quietly, as if each listener were reading his or her own particular book of jazz.

Don Goodwin and his mates are writing those books, right then and there.

Don Goodwin Trio and guests • Tuesdays from 9 pm - midnight • No cover • The Swamp Tavern • 1904 W. Fifth Ave. • 458-BEER

Tags: , ,

  • Pin It

Speaking of Jazz, swamp

Latest in Music

  • Play On
  • Play On

    Years after they were crafted, vintage and antique instruments still have their place in Spokane
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • The Wild Bunch
  • The Wild Bunch

    Brooklyn's Guerilla Toss comes to the West Coast for the first time
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • Feminist First
  • Feminist First

    Through her music, Dolly Parton has always shown women how to stay strong
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon
Kongos, the Joy Formidable

Kongos, the Joy Formidable @ Knitting Factory

Tue., Sept. 27, 8:30 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Michael Bowen

Most Commented On

  • Feminist First

    Through her music, Dolly Parton has always shown women how to stay strong
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • Art of the Deal

    Local indie labels offer artists another marketing option, but not everyone is convinced they're necessary
    • Sep 1, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
Music & Film

COUNTRY


Readers also liked…

  • Volume is Back!
  • Volume is Back!

    Volume 2015 Inlander Music Festival: Everything you need to know, and suggested lineups for every musical taste
    • May 20, 2015
  • Crank it Out
  • Crank it Out

    Robot Raven is a new classic rock duo creating originals from their respective pastoral homes
    • Mar 31, 2016

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation