It’s been nearly 10 years since Jazzheads played together, but when the quartet starts its two-night gig at Chris’ Jazz Cafe this weekend, “It’s just going to feel like an old pair of shoes,” drummer Ari Hoenig says with a laugh. “You get into an old pair of shoes and it’s like you never stopped wearing them.”
It was about 14 years ago that Jazzheads first started playing together (though guitarist Tim Motzer cautions, “I’m not sure what the actual story is at this point”) and Hoenig was playing a weekly gig at Ortlieb’s Jazzhaus while Motzer was playing with King Britt’s Back2Basics at Silk City. The two met and decided to collaborate. With the addition of saxophonist Chris Cuzme and bassist Ben Bocardo, they played extensively around Philadelphia and the region. They recorded their one and only album in 1998, Avant Wot Not , released on Motzer’s 1K label.
The album’s 10 tunes were an unexpected yet cohesive combination of acid jazz, drum and bass, funk, soul and straight-ahead jazz. “It was just like the band was one sound. It wasn’t four guys playing together—it became one identifiable sound and I don’t think it sounded like anything else,” Motzer said.
Though the band slowly disbanded not long afterward, as 2008 rolled around, Hoenig—now an accomplished jazz drummer and band leader—was redesigning his website and wanted to include the Jazzheads album. Coincidentally, Motzer had already been thinking about rereleasing Avant Wot Not to celebrate its 10-year anniversary, and so the album was rereleased last year.
“It has somewhat of a timeless quality to me because the actual playing that went down was honest,” Motzer explains. “We weren’t trying to fit into a particular mold—we were just inspired by our particular surroundings at that time.” ■
Fri., July 24 and Sat., July 25, 8pm and 10pm. $15-$20. Chris’ Jazz Cafe, 1421 Sansom St. 215.568.3131. chrisjazzcafe.com