Framed in neon light from a sign that reads -- inside-out and backward, as if in a mirror -- FRESH PASTA, Dave Stone solos over a Charlie Parker blues called "Cheryl." It's the first tune on a Saturday night at Cafe Mangia. The group has started late but seems to be making up for it. Jim Orso is swinging over the drums, already warmed up from an earlier gig. Eric Markowitz walks up and down his bass: His lines are nimble, even tender, despite their speed, his body embracing the bass, a warm, expectant expression on his face as he feels the wood quivering against his body. You can't hear Parker's melody now, not exactly, but at the same time this knitting of forces feels exactly as the song should. The vibes player, Tom Rickard -- who joins the trio every other Saturday -- echoes Markowitz beautifully, his double mallets lighting on metal in precisely placed figures, like the block chords of McCoy Tyner, keying the harmonies at the heart of the song. Stone lays back, and Rickard solos, blistering and delicate, mallets spinning like pinwheels. Stone finds an opening and bolts, his horn calling gutturally, like a horse taking off down a crowded street, sending out as many tones across a chord as he can, the notes ascending and descending quickly but still beautifully formed as they erupt. His break lasts a only a minute or two, and then he and Rickard lay way back. Orso looks to Markowitz, who begins to solo with searching patience, not rushing the progressions, finding only the notes he wants, though he couldn't have guessed until this moment that he wanted them at all, and the two send messages back and forth, back and forth, until the song wheels again into... More >>>