By Alison Babka
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By Drew Ailes
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By Carolina de Busto
Of all the instruments you might expect to hear in house music, vibes would probably qualify as one of the least likely -- falling somewhere between the bassoon and the bagpipes. But Jeff Lash has made vibes an integral part of the Hot House Sessions, an ever-evolving collective that holds court at Miso, the Pepper Lounge and Nik's Wine Bar & Hookah Lounge. Lash also takes an original approach to jazz with his regular trio -- reworking jazz standards with reggae beats and Latin rhythms, tossing in covers of tunes by Beck, Weezer and even Ozzy Osbourne.
"The Hot House Sessions has a basic lineup of a live DJ, percussion and trumpet," Lash explains, "with other instruments like sax, trombone, harmonica and my vibes rotating in and out. When I'm playing, I just try and follow the course the DJ sets, adding improvisations on the fly."
With his own trio, which includes bassist Ben Wheeler and drummer Matt Kimmick, Lash focuses on accessibility rather than complexity. "The average person isn't into checking out improvisation on complex chord changes," he says, "so instead of playing harmonic changes, we take familiar tunes and change them rhythmically. That gives people a handle on what we're doing -- and it makes it fun for us as well. I know I get tired of playing in the same tempo for a couple of hours."
Lash and his trio will be taking some time off over the holidays before settling into a regular Tuesday-night gig at Riddle's Penultimate Café & Wine Bar in February. But you can catch the group this Thursday at Pop's Blue Moon -- and you can hear Lash's unique "house" vibes at Miso on Sunday as well.