Nova Modern

Posted February 11, 2010 in Music




Everything jazz in existence from the hot bop combos of the ‘50s and ‘60s to the contemporary jazz circuit of today.


Waylon Hicks (saxophones); Bobby Bozonelos (8-string guitar); Shawn Valcarcel (drums).

Perhaps there’s a bit of truth in advertising going on here: Although jazz trio Nova Modern are taking a page from the music book of yesteryear, performing a genre whose roots pre-date both rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop, they’re not afraid to lay a decided modern twist on familiar jazz standards. 


Together with a host of originals, the act’s set list reveals cuts commonplace to those whose record collections sport the Blue Note, Impulse and Concord labels. But you won’t be hearing a carbon-copy replication of these classics. 


Part of it’s because Nova Modern’s instrumentation is less conventional than the standardized jazz trio, as there’s no bassist. And while jazz organs have long existed in lieu of the stringed bass, there are no ivories being tickled in this outfit, either. Instead, it’s the fingers and fretwork of guitarist Bobby Bozonelos, whose mastery finds chords and bass lines performed simultaneously. Credit his grounding as a classical guitarist.


 “Classical guitarists learn very early on to play bass lines to accompany what is being played in the melody line,” saxophonist Waylon Hicks explains. “Bobby has used this training and crossed over to an eight-string guitar. This is a custom-made guitar with three bass strings and five guitar strings. This is definitely not something any guitar player can do and you rarely will see the instrument used. If you’re not watching the stage, it is very hard to hear the fact that there are only three performers on stage.”


The freshened Nova Modern trio—rounded out by drummer Shawn Valcarcel—formed just over a year ago, but they’re playing like seasoned vets, well past their brief stay together. But that’s because they’re all experienced pros, having cut their teeth jamming in previous projects. 


And they’ve previously gigged at the Hip Kitty, as Nova Modern will be making its third appearance at the jazz-focused club this weekend. “It is an awesome place to perform and the crowd has always been very receptive,” Hicks says. “It is nice to play a venue where you are not the only jazz band who performs there on a regular basis.” 


Nova Modern at the Hip Kitty Jazz and Fondue, 502 W. 1st St., Claremont, (909) 447-6700; Sat, 8PM.


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