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Concert Review: Lou Menchaca’s Jazz Express in Wisconsin

Knowing the audience pays off

Lou Menchaca

Let the jazz fit the room. A recent Saturday night in Thiensville, Wisc., saw Lou Menchaca’s quartet assembled in a tiny corner of the Cheel, a small restaurant that specializes in Nepalese fare. Well prepared for the gig, tenor saxophonist Albert Abena set aside his large horn in favor of flute and clarinet. The leader’s trumpet was traded for the softer sound of his flugelhorn, while an acoustic bass provided rhythm. Only the Roland piano required a power source, but this was certainly not the only electricity present within the group.

Using this impromptu stripped-down instrumentation, gentle music filled the room for late evening diners. It served as background ambience for those who chose to talk. But for the ones who came to listen, the quartet consistently provided rich rewards, as recognizable tunes and excellent solos filled several outstanding sets.

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