At one time, in the early '70s, fusion music was a daring new jazz style. It was such a success that by the start of the '80s it had become firmly ensconced in the jazz mainstream. This meteroic rise had its good and bad sides -- the music gained mass appeal while losing much of its early energy and imagination.
Last night, this dilemma was clearly present in the music of Dry Jack. This New York-based group is an engaging if not necessarily memorable ensemble. The songs are filled with all the light, unassuming harmonies, funky rhythms and sprightly solos that have become standard fusion cliches.
The musicians are all highly skilled and their material is tight and well-rehearsed. Yet these qualities are not directed at any effective musical statements. Dry Jack is palatable and ultimately safe, to the point that their music itself has no point. Like many of their counterparts, they adequately reproduce the familiar fusion sound, but the thrill is gone.
The Tiber Creek Pub (15 E St. NW), which is presenting Dry Jack through Saturday, is a new club attempting to bring undiscovered artists to its stage. It is a welcome addition to the Washington jazz scene.