Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Brian Nova At The Wonderful Cafe des Beaux-Arts

Last Wednesday March 16, went to Cafe des Beaux-Arts to have dinner and enjoy the music of Brian Nova. If you like live music, and you talk to any of the great jazz musicians in the Desert, you are sure to hear Brian's name mentioned.  I certainly have but I had only heard Brian playing in groups with his stand up bass.  I knew from the few solos that Brian played that he was a talent I needed to know more about. 

Before I get to Brian, I have to mention a few comments about Cafe des Beaux-Arts. For anyone who has not dined at Beaux-Arts, you are really missing one of the best restaurants in the desert. It is one of my favorites and just not for dinner. It is one of the best restaurants in Palm Desert. It is right in the heart of the best shopping street in the Desert, El Paseo.  In addition to lunch and dinner, Beaux-Arts also serves an excellent breakfast. A great way to enjoy your morning coffee and read the morning newspaper. Didler Bloch is the proprietor of Beaux-Arts and he has been at the restaurant each time we visited.  This no doubt explains why Beaux-Arts is one of the best-run restaurants in the country. Be sure to say hello to Didler next time you visit.  Didler is a true renaissance man with a love for music, art, theatre and of course great French cuisine. 

Almost as soon as I heard Brian play Guitar, there was no doubt that he mastered this instrument. Brian played a few great classic jazz numbers, and I was very impressed with his finger dexterity and ability to compose some very original improvisations. Brian must have the fastest fingers in the West. But the quality that impressed me the most was Brian's ability to not only play notes fast but with great clarity, separation and composition.  In talking with Brian at one of his breaks, I learned that he has studied with two music icons that top everyone's list of great jazz guitarists, Herb Ellis and Joe Pass. Understand that no one gets to study with this caliber of musicians unless they see very unusual talent in the student.
Brian told me he spends the winters in the Desert and then tours the world the rest of the year. So there you have it, another example of why the Desert is the best place on earth during the winter for live music played by superb musicians.  But Brian's talent does end with guitar and stand up bass, he is an excellent singer with a soft, warm voice that is perfect for great songs from the "Great American Songbook".  I had a wonderful couple of hours dining and listening to Brian playing guitar and sing and my only regret is that the night had to end.   I will be back to hear more from Brian and I strongly urge anyone of my readers here in the Desert, to get to Beaux-Arts on Wednesday nights to enjoy Brian's great sounds from along with the outstanding food and service. 

Of course, in the tradition of the desert, a few guests dinning at Beaux-Arts came up to perform with Brian and as usual they were all very good. I think I have their names correct, Missoni Lanza, Erich Stratmann and Jim Salestrom. If I didn't and they read this blog, please send me any corrections and I will post them. 
Lastly, the great Vancouver flautist, Tom Keenlyside made an appearance and performed several songs with Brian. As always, Tom was just brilliant. Tom has been sitting in with most of the best jazz players in the Desert this season, and I would love to see Tom performing with his own group.  He is such a great talent who has performed with Dizzy Gillespie, Natalie Cole, Harry Connick, Mel Torme, Peggy Lee, Diana Krall and David Foster just to name a few.  Tom moved here last winter and is a great gift to all of us who love great live music.

Brian & Tom Keenlyside

Brian & Missoni Lanza

Brian & Jim Salestrom

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