Take a few jazz standards, a few original songs and a few pop
covers, put them in the hands of a small, no-frills ensemble, and you’re
likely to get something that sounds like Live at Lucy’s Place
(Volume 1) (JoySpring Music, 2015) by the Peak Experience Jazz
The leader is bassist Mike Peak. With him are Ron Kobayashi, piano; Ann
Patterson, flute, alto and tenor saxophones; Andrea Miller, vocals;
Rickey Woodard, tenor saxophone; and Kendall Key, drums. The title is
derived from a special room in Peak’s Laguna Hills, California, home,
named for his wife, Lucy Peak.
Patterson and Woodard are first to shine on the opener, a lively
rendition of Sonny Rollins’ “Tenor Madness.” It’s a toe-tapping,
finger-snapping, put a smile on your face arrangement. The ensemble
introduces the piece, but the saxophones are the focal points, playing
together at first then successive solos. Piano and drums also get their
turns, but one cannot overlook the bass groove that Peak lays down
Miller steps in on the slow, dreamy “Angel Eyes.” Her delivery is
reminiscent of some of the iconic jazz divas, like Nancy Wilson, Dinah
Washington and Anita O’Day. Peak, Kobayashi and Kay are solid. And
Woodard offers a smoky, sultry solo.
One track that has a different vibe from the rest is “Lucy,” a Peak
composition. It’s a delightful, cruising down the boulevard kind of
song. The saxes take a break, leaving it to the trio of Peak, Kobayashi
and Key. Kobayashi plays with a combination of symphonic elegance and
free-spirited joy. Peak and Key are more than mere accompanists. Each
plays with fervor, complementing the piano without competing.
Peak Experience has been together about 20 years. Live at Lucy’s
Place is the first of a planned series of live recordings at that
location. The room is designed as a relaxed, “house party” environment,
and hosts fund-raising events for charities dear to Mike and Lucy Peak.
The ensemble also performs at corporate events and jazz festivals in
If this first release is a template, Volume 2 is anxiously awaited.