This review was contributed by Jeff Krisman as part of Amplify. Jeff is the creator of the Inspiring Conversations Podcast, which interviews interesting individuals in Oklahoma City, including jazz musicians, artist, and entrepreneurs. Cover photo by Tori Beechum.
Jazz Guitarist Brian Belanus at Saints Pub, Plaza District, OKC.
In my limited experience, there is no such thing as a “typical night at
Saints Sessions” in The Plaza District. Every Thursday night is carefully
and lovingly curated by Christian Pearson……every gig is a powerful, new
moment in time. No two Thursday nights at Saints Pub from 8 to 10 pm are
ever the same. The vibe is always calm and bustling, all at the same time
there……really groovy people both working there and also sitting in the
seats taking it all in. Even if you had the same personnel on the stage as a
week ago, it would feel different…..it would BE different.
Last Thursday night, August 2nd was no exception as Brian Belanus took the
stage with his solid jazz guitar stylings and a set of beautiful new
compositions he had just put the finishing touches on recently; Dave Bowen
with an energy and a presence behind the drums that is like none other I
have ever seen in my over 40 years of being a jazz listener; Rei Wang on
bass keeping it beautifully moving ever forward in time with Dave on the
drums; and Trevor Galvin on sax beautifully punctuating this musical journey
that we were all on.
As the band took the stage and was preparing to start their set, I noticed
that Rei was opening the curtains that cover the windows around the stage
and was looking very intently at something. I had no idea what she was
looking at, but after I left the show, it occurred to me that there was no
way I could have known what it was until after I experienced this particular
gig. Simply put, when I walked out of Saints Pub that night, I was not the
same person I was when I walked in there earlier in the evening.
In retrospect, it seemed to me, and I could be wrong, that she was making
way for the energy of the jazz of the past to come into that room because
that night, this group brought to life a feeling that I have only
experienced when listening to the great jazz musicians of the 50’s, 60’s,
and 70’s. Through Brian’s beautiful, original compositions amidst a
carefully crafted set of standards, in my mind, the past came to life in a
very deeply moving way that night. My absolute favorite Brian Belanus
composition that night was the last song in the first half of the show,
While experiencing that tune, I felt like I was making contact with the
souls of several of the greatest jazz guitarists as it just washed over me
and connected with my soul in a way that only original jazz “from the heart”