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Scat honors much-missed Black Dog jazz night

Black Dog Revisited

Sundays at Scat Jazz Lounge, 111 W. Fourth St. Go down the alley, and take the elevator to the basement.

scatjazzlounge.com


Posted 11:26am on Wednesday, Jun. 16, 2010

Tad Gaither's Black Dog Tavern, in downtown Fort Worth, played a pivotal role in the Funkytown music scene until its unsuccessful relocation to the Seventh Street area in 2006. My last gig as a musician was there, back in the '90s, and on Sundays, jazz musicians took over the joint for a world-class jam.

Some cultures just don't survive a move, and perhaps that is what killed the Black Dog. The jazz night, like some hip musical zombie, went searching for a host. It settled at Lola's for a while, and then on to a short-lived stint at Embargo. But the jazz night that will not die is back again, this time at the Scat Jazz Lounge in downtown Fort Worth. Let's hope it stays put for a while.

In honor of Tad Gaither, who died in 2009, jazz night will be known as Black Dog Revisited. Joey Carter (vibraphone) explains: "It was kind of a good tribute for [Gaither], keeping the Black Dog name. It was kind of an iconic thing in Fort Worth music."

The band took the stage a little late -- this is jazz, after all -- and opened to a small but devoted audience. The opening song featured very nice solo work by Carter and by stand-up bassist Buddy Mohmed. The band also included Paul Metzger on guitar and Pete Wehner on drums. The music tended toward heavily improvised jazz numbers from the '50s and '60s.

"We don't play the same tunes the same way two weeks in a row." Carter said. "The tunes themselves change, and that's part of the game."

Throughout the set, the guitar playing was furious perfection, the stand-up bass work some of the best I've seen, and when a birthday party being held at the club asked that the band play the birthday song, Metzger improvised a jazz variant. The vibes changed from percussion to harmonies with the voice of a church choir. Drum solos were spot-on and not at all overdone.

Although this is an open mike, there was only one guest player. I did find myself missing some of the musical textures from the old jams. Variety will come with time -- the word hasn't really gotten out to the regulars yet.

All in all, it seems that this is the kind of place were the jazz zombie belongs. It's downtown, it's underground (the best jazz is played below street level), and there's no cover. Music starts at 8:30 p.m. and ends at 12:30 a.m., a godsend for those who have to get up on Monday.

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