Quintet delivers music with substance
For the Nevada Appeal
Comma Coffee hosts the George Cole Quintet, playing timeless, Django Reinhardt-styled music, at 6:30 p.m. Monday, in support of their debut release, “Riverside Drive,” to be formally released April 9, 2011.
“This is not my first record, but it’s the first with the quintet,” Cole said. “I came to acoustic music from rock ‘n’ roll seven years ago.”
Besides having founded the quintet, Cole brings many talents to table, including vocalist, composer, arranger, band leader and his expertise as a gypsy guitarist. His gifts of “comic gab” and guitar solos set the tone for a delightful evening infused with a blend of European and American jazz.
“Maybe one of my greatest contributions is my impeccable fashion sense,” he said, joking. “But really, I do take the time to dress nicely because the audience deserves for me to bring my best … down to what I wear.”
Over the years, Cole has seen the group evolve to where it is today, “a stable lineup and small ensemble,” of talented musicians who are able to create a unique experience for the audience, each time they perform.
Joining George in the ensemble are vocalist Molly Mahoney, rhythm guitarist Jimmy Grant, Julian Smedley on violin, and Kenan O’Brien on upright bass. George played guitar on Chris Isaak’s platinum “Forever Blue” album and was guitar instructor and mentor to Billie Joe Armstrong and Mike Dirnt of Green Day. He has toured with many well-known artists, including Joe Walsh on his “Anthology” tour and legendary jazz vocalist Keely Smith in 2009.
“There’s a lot of crazy making that can happen with a larger group, a dissonance because it can easily disintegrate into chaos,” Cole said. “We are a small enough ensemble, very professional and know each other and the music well enough that the songs are simply a template that allows us to go into other (improvised) arrangements with the nod of a head.”
Reinhardt has inspired Cole’s music in that he too, does his best to infuse the music with a depth of emotion.
“Django had an amazing sense of this … where his music was so full of emotion,” Cole said. “Historically people have used guitar and violin as a mode of expression that gave them the ability to communicate feelings and emotion.”
In an age where much of the music that’s created is disposable, Cole hopes to leave a substantive, lasting impression that moves and uplifts those who hear the quintet.
“My goal artistically is to leave something behind that’s inspired,” said Cole, who is also a guitar teacher. “My students come in listening to stuff that is the musical equivalent of Captain Crunch or Count Chocula … no one’s taught them about Benny Goodman or Chet Atkins … nothing substantive and then they discover there is this whole other world and they eat it up.”
The quintet has been touring extensively, playing venues big and small.
“We are a city band, but we connect with audiences who, for instance when we were in Pistol, Ore., found people in this little community who were so knowledgeable and truly enjoyed and appreciated the music and were so welcoming,” Cole said. “The audiences have been amazing. They support and buy our music and we are so grateful for them.”
Comma Coffee is located at 312 S. Carson St., Carson City. Tickets cost $8 in advance or $12 at the door. For tickets or more information, call 775-883-2662 or visit commacoffee.com.
For more information or to hear the music, visit georgecole.net.