Jim Rea is known mainly for bluegrass and other forms of roots music. He's not foremost a jazz musician, but he functioned as one on Friday night at Patton Alley Pub.
At "Jimmy Rea’s Springfield Real Book Release Party," he debuted the second edition of his compilation of tunes written by local musicians. He assembled a core band to play some of the 42 songs in the book, and many other musicians sat in.
It was wonderful to see how readily the musicians responded to the book.
Rea's most important role for the evening was emcee/coordinator. However, by the end of the night, the musicians took over the event with an hourlong blast to the finish of groove-based jams. With this set-up and follow-through, the evening wildly exceeded expectations.
It was amazing to see dancers crowding the tight area in front of the stage, responding to top-shelf jazz tenor players Brandon Mezzelo and Grant Maledy as they roared away.
In hindsight, the evening was a simple idea, and it worked beautifully. Cheers to Jim Rea for having a vision and taking a chance.