Anthology House Band a unique San Diego sound
by Bart Mendoza
Jan 12, 2012 | 3779 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bassist Anthony Muhammad, left, and trumpeter Derek Cannon tune up for a session at Anthology. Courtesy photo
Bassist Anthony Muhammad, left, and trumpeter Derek Cannon tune up for a session at Anthology. Courtesy photo
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San Diego has many fine music venues, but only one, Anthology, has its own built-in music group, the Anthology House Band. The seven-piece combo has been a part of the venue’s weekly schedule since its opening in 2007, specializing in a wide range of jazz, from Jobim sambas to Rufus and Chaka Khan’s soul groover, “Sweet Thing.”

The key to the band’s success is that mix of versatility and musicianship, with a potential set list of 500 songs to choose from and a stellar group of players.

Helmed by musical director and bassist Tony Muhammad, the Anthology House Band includes singer Rebecca Jade, trumpeter Derek Cannon, guitarist Jeff Moore, drummer Russell Bizzet, tenor saxophonist John Rekevics, as well as pianists Kamau Kenyatta and alternate Kevin Flournoy.

According to Anthology’s director of music operations, Michael Pritchard, the plan to feature such a group was part of the venue’s concept from the beginning.

“We wanted to demonstrate that we were involved in the local music scene also,” he said. “The way that we thought we could do that was to enlist some of the finest jazz musicians in the area and have them in our room on a weekly basis.”

The band performs most Tuesdays, with special Motown, Ladies of Jazz and Holiday-themed shows also in the mix.

“It’s a nice night to come in and enjoy some great music,” he said. “With a $5 cover, it’s easily accessible.”

Bassist Muhammad said a set list for a show like this has to be structured differently than typical club night.

“A themed show would be a little different, but on a normal Tuesday, we may play some bossa nova or samba, some quiet music for dinner for the first set, and then slowly pick it up for the second set,” he said. “We finish out with some nice dance or groove music.”

The attention to detail has brought the band its own following.

“It’s a good crowd,” Muhammad said. “If we get a week or two off for whatever reason, when we come back, they’re there. You see some of the same people out there.”

While the band performs all covers, the fact that these are all seasoned musicians means some original music has emerged from their jams.

“We’ve got a couple of pieces that we do, that we’re all familiar with, but we haven’t recorded any of them yet,” he said. “We do a lot of playing, communicating off each other and there are a few things that have come up, where we’re thinking, ‘We should record that.’”

Originally based in Baltimore, Muhammad has been playing bass since the early 1970s.

“I knew I wanted to play an instrument, so I went out one night and I looked at this band and did a process of elimination. Drums? Too loud, too many pieces. Horns? I used to have asthma, and so on. Eventually it left bass.” he said.

He arrived in San Diego in 1999 and still considers the move to have been a good one, preferring the local music community to the East Coast.

“It’s 100 percent better,” he said. “It’s healthy.”

After four years of performing at Anthology, Muhammad is clear on his favorite thing about the gig: his band mates. With Jade and Cannon out front and himself in the back, he said there exists a “communication triangle. No words needed. We can look at each other and it just happens.”

He’s particularly effusive about Cannon and Rekevics, both of whom have impressive discographies of their own.

“They can do anything.They can read anything, play anything and as good as musicians as they are, they’re even better people,” he said. “It’s so easy when you’ve got guys like that on your team.”

The Anthology House Band plays Tuesdays, Jan. 10 and Jan. 17 at Anthology, 1337 India St. 7:30 p.m. 21 and up. $5. www.anthologysd.com
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