Salisbury Press

Monday, July 22, 2019

Gečytė, Perla return for sixth ‘Jazz Upstairs’

Tuesday, May 21, 2019 by GEORGE VANDOREN Special to The Press in Focus

Viktorija Gečytė and the Gene Perla Trio are making their sixth appearance in the “Jazz Upstairs” series in the Rodale Community Room, Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown.

The 7:30 p.m. May 17 concert is part of the group’s 11th annual tour. After Lehigh Valley and New York area concerts, the group heads to the Bay Area. Then it’s off to Europe where the ensemble plans to make a recording.

Gečytė, a native of Lithuania, has been performing since age five. She was a scholarship student at Lafayette College. After graduating, she played jazz clubs in New York and around the United States. She found a home in Paris and has performed there and around Europe ever since.

Critics have raved about her great phrasing, impeccable timing and elegant, swinging performances.

Bassist and trio leader Gene Perla agrees: “Her sound is so desirable. It’s smooth with a very melodious lower range. Her rhythmic placement just fits like a hand in a glove. Her pitch is dead-on.”

Perla says they met around 2007 and he became intrigued, adding, “By the way, she can deliver a song and really tell a story.”

The next year, they formed a group and have been performing together ever since.

Perla also began his musical experience at age five, studying classical piano. He played trombone in high school. He went to college with an engineering degree in mind, but wound up attending the Berklee School of Music and Boston Conservatory.

After relocating to New York, Perla switched to bass as his main instrument and became in-demand. He has played with Nina Simone, Miles Davis, Woody Herman, Elvin Jones, the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Band, Sonny Rollins, Frank Sinatra and Sarah Vaughan. He is in his 18th year teaching music business at Lehigh University and his 10th year at the New School in New York.

Rounding out the group are Edsel Gomez, piano, and Adam Nussbaum, drums.

Nussbaum started with drums and piano, getting his first drum kit around age 12. He studied at the City College of New York.

He has played with John Abercrombie, Carla Bley, Michael Brecker, Gary Burton, the Eliane Elias-Randy Brecker Quartet, the Gil Evans Orchestra, Stan Getz, Dave Liebman, John Scofield and Toots Thielemans.

Says Perla, “He’s a monster. Playing with him is like sitting on a very comfortable couch.”

Gomez hails from Puerto Rico. He was nominated for a Grammy for Cubism Music in 2007. He has worked with Dee Dee Bridgewater, Don Byron, Jack DeJonette, Brian Lynch and Eddie Palmieri.

He undertook a research study promoted by the Philippine Heritage Library and Ayala Museum in Manila, Philippines.

Following that, he formed the Edsel Gomez World Fusion Band, which combines traditional Philippine and tribal music with Afro-Caribbean music and jazz.

Says Perla, “I met Edsel when he was playing on a record I was producing and I’ve been performing with him the last few years with Adam Nussbaum.

“Because of Edsel’s Latin bent, we’re going in that direction. We’re revising some of the songs we’ve done in the past with a Latin flavor.”

Perla says that for the “Jazz Upstairs” concert, “We’ll also play some new songs that Viktorija and I have written.”

Tickets: Miller Symphony Hall box office, 23 N. Sixth St., Allentown; millersymphonyhall.org; 610-432-6715