“Nothing can be further removed/Not everyone wants to be soothed.” I remember taking to heart those words sung by British rocker Graham Parker in 1983’s “Passive Resistance.” At the time, much of pop music was lacking in both heart and fire, and Parker’s scowl and no-holds-barred delivery sucked me in.
Only living has gotten a tad more complicated these days, and to borrow a song title from singer/songwriter Iris Dement, easy’s gettin’ harder every day. Truth is, sometimes we do want to be soothed, or at least offered a temporary escape from the shit life throws at us. And the one group I’m turning to right now to decompress is 2AZZ1, a SoCal smooth jazz couple featuring singer/songwriter/keyboardist Mary Durst and her saxophone-playing hubby, Craig.
Now I’ve been known to rip smooth jazz as being slick, overproduced, and, at its worst, mind-numbing. Yet there’s something about the enigmatic 2AZZ1 that puts me both at ease and lifts me up. The duo’s latest release, …Driven, roams sweetly from tender ballads to swinging instrumental workouts, the latter showcasing Craig’s dexterous, well-placed chops.
Onstage, the couple radiates a warm charisma that’s downright contagious. At a recent gig at Spaghettini in Seal Beach, the energy between the Dursts and the audience was palpable, one that fostered a feel-good vibe lasting long into the night. Who knew? (John Roos)
The Claremont Depot Jazz Series presents 2AZZ1 at the Claremont Depot, 200 W. First St., Claremont, (909) 399-5490. Fri., 6-8:30 p.m. Free. All ages.