The 9:30 club never sounded so good. Maybe it was because there were no vocals to compromise the sound mix of Andy Summers's band, or maybe it was the state-of-the-art equipment the band was carrying, or maybe just a good sound man. Probably a bit of each, and the audience reaped the rewards Tuesday night.
As the guitarist who defined the sound of the Police even more perhaps than Sting's singing, Summers doesn't have much to prove as a player. His sound was similar in tone and technique to his best work in that popular trio, though he did get to prove that his jazz chops are not to be sneered at.
As a composer, Summers has progressed from the mood noodlings of his earlier solo recordings to solidly structured and arranged pieces like "Mickey Goes to Africa," from his new "Charming Snakes" release. It began with a steady, slow drum beat, evoking the continent of the title, with Summers playing a subtle double-stop pattern over it. It kicked into a full-blown guitar number, with Summers tapping a foot switch to get his huge round sound, and soloing passionately for the remainder of the song. Other highlights were the recent "Monk Gets Ripped," dedicated to jazzman and composer Thelonious Monk, and "A Piece for Time" from the "Gold Wire" release.
His band was very sympathetic, especially drummer Chad Wackerman, who gave the tunes the punch they needed to keep them from being tagged with the dreaded "new age" moniker. His high-hat cymbal playing was certainly reminiscent of former Police drummer Stewart Copeland's style, especially on the reggae groove encore that sounded like an instrumental outtake from "Ghost in the Machine."