Every once in a while in Richmond, something big happens in a little space. The most recent example: Anna Webber’s stellar Simple Trio performance on Saturday night at the Black Iris Gallery.
The Brooklyn-based Webber (tenor sax, flute, composition) combines a huge sound, big ideas and disarming humor into an engagingly avant-garde approach that promises to continue to gain wider recognition.
Her pianist, Matt Mitchell, played the Broadberry a few months back with leading trumpeter Dave Douglas. Her drummer, John Hollenbeck, is the widely-hailed leader of the Claudia Quartet.
The Tiny Bar is on the scale of a midsized stage, about 25 feet on its widest axis, with seating only on a half-dozen stools and on the stairs leading up to the old Metro Sound studios. The result is an intimate and immersive experience.
The material, whether multistage epics like “Impulse Buy” or tightly focused miniatures like “Rectangles,” unfolded with compositional intelligence and improvisational grace. The unconventional yet tasteful attack of Hollenbeck was particularly fun to watch.
In that way he is like Richmond percussionist Scott Clark, who organized the event and opened with a winning new trio featuring guitarist Scott Burton of Luray and Glows in the Dark and trumpeter Taylor Barnett of No BS Brass.