Always cool to find a local venue to hear live jazz and in this case, it was the Kevan Smedt Quartet at Dio Deka restaurant in Los Gatos, California. Right off, this is a straight jazz band playing standards, led by guitarist Smedt. I love this kind of band. The weather was perfect but the band was playing in front of a loudly flowing water fountain, which is not where they are normally located (they’re inside the restaurant). Nonetheless, they were terrific.
I sat with jazz aficionado & friend Darryl Noda, who pointed out that Smedt, left handed, tends to play the top four strings of his Eastman f-hole archtop guitar. We talked with Kevan during a break, to find that he does that to keep his guitar tone above the bassists’. Smart stuff, and it made for fascinating watching as he played.
The band members change from night to night and a great drummer, Akira Tana was anchoring the group on this evening. I’ve seen Tana play with Kenny Burrell, among others. Always tasteful and nuanced, we sat more to his side and it made for great listening. Plus he’s just a cool guy to hang with.
The bassist, Dan Robbins, was super solid and sometimes flamboyant, too. Robbins really enjoys being on stage and a couple of times he played things I’d never heard on a standup bass before. A couple of times he flew from the bottom of the fretboard all the way to the top in an instant and I thought he’d lost it, but he didn’t miss a beat, or a note. Talk about fleet of finger… the guy plays faster on his bass than I can on a guitar. He played an electric bass for a few tunes, too.
The tenor player had a nice tone and was very melodic. You’ll hear how beautifully he plays on the last part of the medley below. Afraid I never got his name.
Dio Deka is a very nice place, I didn’t get to see all of it, but based on the cost of a glass of Pinot ($12, one of the cheapest on the menu), you’d better bring your wallet if you want to eat or drink here. Nice outdoor courtyard dining area.
For now, Smedt’s group plays here Friday nights, from 7 to 10pm, and it’s free to listen. I highly recommend it if you want to cool out in Los Gatos. You’ll probably want to check the Dio Deka website to make sure the band is still playing.
Enjoy three minutes of a medley of tunes from the evening!
Akira’s website is here.
Dan Robbin’s site is here.
Dio Deka’s is here.