One of the most enthusiastic crowds in Harker Concert Series history greeted drummer Jared Schonig and his quintet Friday night, kicking off the first in-person live HCS event in almost two years. The last time the Patil Theater had hosted a live Harker Concert Series performance was in February of last year, when The Kronos Quartet played to a packed house.
Remarkably, Schonig and his assembled band of incredible players — saxophonist Patrick Bartley, bassist Matt Clohesy, trumpeter Michael Olmos and pianist Gary Versace – were performing as a group for the first time, though Schonig had worked with each of them individually for years. The group performed eight of Schonig’s original songs, none of which failed to impress. Naturally, Schonig began the show with a drum solo highlighting both his technique and musicality. For the remainder of the set, he was more than content to take the reins at the rhythm section while his bandmates skillfully interpreted his excellent compositions and traded solos.
The many highlights were many, ranging from the alternating funk and swing of show opener “Sabotage” to the contemplative “Tig Mack” – a showcase for Versace’s crystalline piano lines — to the steady drive of “Climb,” which displayed Bartley and Olmos’ effortless virtuosity. The band closed with “White Out,” a rhythmically dizzying show of musicianship that could have easily gone off the rails were it not for the expertise and confidence of the people at the controls.
An ever-thankful Schonig showed his gratitude for the opportunity to perform live (“It’s a wonderful thing to get to do it for people again,” he said) stuck around after the standing ovation to chat with concertgoers and sign copies of his double album, “Two Takes.”