Two for one: Married Couple show has dual benefits

Married Couple’s press-pack gathered dust on my loveseat for a number of days this week– perhaps I was a little hesitant to review something described in an email message as “improvisational jazz.” Perhaps it was because during my time as The Hook music editor, I’ve been conditioned to expect the worst from groups with less than stellar band names (sorry). 
When I did crack it open, I found, much to my relief, instead of the bespectacled latter-day hippie couple I expected to stare out at me from the press picture, four young souls– three men and a woman– and not a rose tinted piece of eyewear in sight.
When I put the group’s seven-track promo CD in the player, I was treated to yet another reminder of why glancing first impressions often mean nothing in the music biz. Married Couple play some of the best jazz I’ve heard in a while.
The band is a simple one: Rob Ewing on trombone, Jason Levis on drums, Lisa Mezzacappa on double bass (upright), and Jonah Minton on tenor saxophone. On the group’s recordings, the drums and double bass sit in the center channel, swerving in and around each other, coming together one moment and separating the next. The trombone and sax take the right and left channels, receptively, and can probably be found doubling each other’s lines as often as they take off on solos of their own.
It’s a stripped down, open sound, and in this day of over-processed dirge, where every song on the radio gets a string section, it’s a welcome change. (Nugget for the kids: Those familiar with the “deep slacker jazz” sounds of pop/rock group Soul Coughing will find that group’s instrumentation very similar in sound and form to bass-heavy Married Couple.)
Married Couple’s Starr Hill performance is being presented by the UVA Women’s Center, as part of their “Virginia 2020: Artists of Vision” campaign. Throughout the fall this program has hosted talks and performances by Virginia alumnae who have become “influential artists in the fields of illustration, dance, film, literature, music, and architecture… [providing] mentoring and networking opportunities for all those interested in the arts, and young women in particular.”
MC’s in with this program is bass player Lisa Mezzacappa, who graduated from UVA in 1997 with a B.A. in music; she’s also an alumna of the Charlottesville Symphony Orchestra and the UVA Jazz Ensemble.
With a sound that relies heavily on rhythm and melody, and an uncluttered take on songs ranging from the classics to classical to pop hits, Married Couple are at least my definition of cool jazz. Since the concert is a benefit for the Women’s Center, by going you can kill two birds with one stone– getting a little culture, and supporting a worthy local cause– all for a measly $9.

Married Couple at Starr Hill, November 9. $9/$6 students, 9pm.


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