Sax man Rick Metz hosts two weekly nights of local jazz: Wednesday nights at the Firkin & Fox, 310 Carson St., Carson City, and Thursday nights at Sidelines Bar & Nightclub, 1237 Baring Blvd., Sparks. Though there will be no Thursday night performance on Nov. 26 because of Thanksgiving, Metz and his band, First Take, will appear at Jazz, A Louisiana Kitchen, 1180 Scheels Drive, Sparks, on Friday, Nov. 27 and Saturday, Nov. 28. For more information, visit www.rickmetz.com
Is it pretty much the same line-up for both nightly shows?
No, both nights have different bands. That’s the fun thing about doing jazz around the area, is the fact that there’s so many great musicians, and everybody’s working so much that my band isn’t necessarily the same band from night to night. It’s a constantly changing mix of the area’s finest players. I have two different vocalists that I feature on each of those nights.
Tell me a little about them.
One of my vocalists has been around town for quite a long time. … Her name is Latisha Lewis, and she’s been working around this town for quite a long time, doing all styles of music, including everything from rock ’n’ roll and blues to jazz. And her voice is a cross between Billie Holiday and the great Nancy Wilson. She’s more like a ’50s torch singer, I guess you could call it.
And then my male vocalist is a gentleman by the name of Marsh Brodeur. And Marsh has been in town for about three, four years now. He moved out from back in the Massachusetts, Connecticut area, and his voice style—he’s a scat singer in the style of Mel Torme and Eddie Jefferson. …
Do you prefer doing vocal jazz over instrumental jazz?
Oh, most assuredly. The instrumental jazz scene is such that most of the regular listening audience out there is not quite as tuned into instrumental jazz as they could be—as I’d like them to be, I should say—because it’s a little bit over a lot of people’s heads. … People are more inclined to connect better with a vocalist who’s singing a song that they recognize, even if it’s not from the contemporary book, they recognize these songs having heard them over the course of their lives through either their parents, or on TV. There’s a lot of great jazz out there. There’s been a big resurgence of jazz among a lot of the great contemporary artists that have done jazz albums, most notably Rod Stewart’s Great American Songbook, Queen Latifah, Boz Scaggs, all these guys have done great jazz albums, and the general listening public is getting more acclimated to hearing vocal jazz. That’s what sets us apart from every other group in town. We’re not doing instrumental jazz that’s going over their heads, we’re doing vocal jazz that’s geared right at them—that they can recognize and tune into, and feel part of.
Do you feel like overall the jazz scene in the area is on an upswing?
Oh, definitely. The whole jazz scene in the area is on a major upswing right now, and the whole jazz swing around the world is definitely getting a major revival over the last five, 10 years. There’s been quite a renewed interest.
Why do you think that is?
I’ve got to go back, of course, to Rod Stewart’s Great American Songbook volumes. He had three, four volumes of the greatest jazz tunes ever written. Even though a lot of people are not Rod Stewart fans … to what he did with the jazz stuff, it’s still bringing it to the major listening public that has no conception of jazz, and it’s making it more accessible …
So you would attribute the resurgence in interest in jazz almost single-handedly to Rod Stewart?
No, no, no, no. I’m just using that as an example. There’s been a lot of major, major top 40 artists over the last 10 years who have delved into the jazz scene.