Blessed Meek

Sunday night jazz has been transforming East Village Coffee Lounge into a laidback jazz club weekly for over a year now. Multi-instrumentalist Gary Meek plays this Sunday with his quintent.

The brainchild of local jazz sax ace Stu Reynolds, the Sunday night jazz series at East Village Coffee Lounge in downtown Monterey has become a local cultural institution in a relatively short time span.

This weekend is no exception as Reynolds brings another now-local saxophonist, Gary Meek, into the fold. Meek cut his teeth as an L.A. studio player, with appearances on over 200 different recordings, before moving north in 2008.

“When you grow up being a session player in L.A. you kind of have to become a chameleon styles-wise,” Meek says.

Still, he is anything but just a versatile session specialist.

“Simply put, Gary is truly a world-class musician,” Reynolds says. “He and his wife moving up here from L.A. has been a real gift to Monterey’s jazz community.”

Reynolds cites Meek’s attitude (positive and supportive of the local scene) in addition to his musicianship. And, Reynolds adds, “He never lets the fact that he’s toured with some of the greatest musicians on the planet inflate his ego at all.”

Some of the greatest indeed, like vocalist Flora Purim and her percussionist husband Airto Moriera, Jeff Lorber, Dave Weckl, Keiko Matsui, Alphonse Mouzon, David Benoit, and even the pop punk band Green Day – to name just a few.

For this weekend, Meek has chosen a quintet of players with strong local representation from trumpeter Akili Bradley, drummer Skylar Campbell and keyboardist Eddie Mendenhall, who will be joined by Meek’s wind work and rooted by jazz bass legend Brian Bromberg – himself an acclaimed bandleader and one of Meek’s most long-lasting collaborators.

The two players have been friends for decades and have appeared on numerous projects together.

“Because of our long friendship, Brian and I enjoy a shared history,” Meek says. “So when we play together it is more like a conversation. He’s so good, so fast and is such a great listener. He hears everything and responds in kind. It’s like his ears are floating on top of all the sounds.”

GARY MEEK QUINTET 5-7:30pm Sunday, July 28. East Village Coffee Lounge, 498 Washington St., Monterey. $10. 373-5601.
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