A fiery performance before a packed house at the Generations Project “Battle of the Combos” at Yoshi’s San Francisco on Thursday night, May 7, propelled the Ken Fowser/Behn Gillece Quintet to victory in the second annual Generations International Competition for Emerging Combos, sponsored by the International Center for the Arts (ICA) at San Francisco State University. With its competition victory, the Fowser/Gillece Quintet earned a year-long fellowship at SF State, including mentoring by the veteran all-stars of the Generations Band, including Jimmy Cobb, Ray Drummond and Eric Alexander. Mentors and young musicians will convene several times during the coming year, with the Fellowship winners receiving invaluable insights on performing and the dynamics of band interaction and advice about the music industry.
Fowser/Gillece Quintet wins on musicianship and ensemble interplay
It was two New York City-based bands squaring off, as the Fowser/Gillece group, led by tenor saxophonist Ken Fowserand vibraphonist Behn Gillece,won the competition over the fine Bruce Harris Quintet. The Fowser/Gillece Quintet’s winning performance opened with a sly, energetic blues by the group’s pianist Jeremy Manasia, called “Jeremy’s Other Blues.” Gillece’s ringing vibes work and Fowser’s warm, muscular sound took hold of the audience immediately, and Manasia stormed the castle with a spry, multi-faceted solo, springing nimbly among cheerful musical ideas. Another highlight was “The Hutch,” Gillece’s tribute to vibes great Bobby Hutcherson. But while the quality of the playing by these three, as well as bassist Adam Cote and drummer Jason Brown, was high throughout the band’s set, it was the empathetic interplay among all five musicians that made the performance shine. It’s not surprising that this quintet had substantial team chemistry on display. They’ve been together long enough to have recorded a fine CD, Full View.