Church On Monday
For Being There (Cherrywood)
Reviewed by Michael Toland, Fri., Sept. 6, 2019
When longtime Austin jazz man Elias Haslanger and his band took up residence in the Continental Club Gallery back in 2012, no one knew Church On Monday would become one of the city's longest-running weekly showcases. Yet here we are, and in celebration of the show's seventh anniversary, the saxophonist and his crew – bassist Daniel Durham, guitarist Tommy Howard, drummer Scott Laningham, and veteran keyboardist Dr. James Polk – jam a live state of the union address with third LP For Being There. The quintet alternates between swinging Sixties soul jazz, as on Harold Vicks' "Our Miss Brooks" and Polk's "Black Door Jeannye," and bristling hard bop, à la Cedar Walton's "Bolivia" and the standard "I'll Remember April." Haslanger and Howard flourish when unleashed, but they're masters of comping as well. The rhythm section concentrates on its mission, though Durham also turns in some fine solos. The backbone, however, is Polk: His Hammond provides the bed on which every other instrument lies, and his lead breaks almost casually show off the tasteful artistry inherent in 60-plus years of musical service. With one foot in groove and the other in improvisational brio, Church on Monday gives a master class in balancing accessibility and self-expression.