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JAZZ REVIEW : Fahn Breathes Life Into Show at Donte's

December 10, 1987|LEONARD FEATHER

Mike Fahn, the young valve trombonist who appeared Tuesday evening at Donte's before a minuscule audience, has two plus factors working for him: the instrument of his choice is in short supply in jazz circles, and he plays it with extraordinary dexterity.

The initial impression given by his group was disconcerting. How could these sloppily attired musicians constitute a unit? After a few minutes, though, it became clear that appearances can be at least partially deceptive.

Although by no means as well organized as other groups Fahn has led, the quintet held together reasonably well as he and the Coltrane-influenced tenor saxophonist, Doug Webb, made their way through sketchy but adequate charts of such tunes as Billy Strayhorn's "Upper Manhattan Medical Group," Joe Henderson's "Recorda-Me" and Thelonious Monk's "Ask Me Now."

Fahn is a startling soloist, bringing to the crisp sound of the three-valved horn a fluency, and an occasional flurry of staccato sound, that could never be achieved on its brother, the slide trombone. He also took part in some engaging interplay with Webb during the out-choruses.

The drummer, Paul Kreibich, served as a linchpin in a less than consistent rhythm section. This was due not to Frank Strazzeri's capable piano but to the fact that the bassist, John B. Williams, played a thin-sounding electric upright instrument, which can never replace the standard bass, particularly in an otherwise acoustic group of this kind.

Fahn will probably be better served when he heads a somewhat different unit tonight at Catalina's, and Tuesday at Le Cafe.

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