First Place: The David Esleck Trio
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Second Place: No BS Brass
Third Place: Butcher Brown
Its repeat appearance as Richmond’s top jazz group is a tribute to the David Esleck Trio’s commitment to charming accessibility. The harmonic and rhythmic intensity of some improvised music can seem impenetrable. But pianist and University of Richmond professor Esleck has an engagingly transparent, melodic approach drawn from decades of professional experience in classical, country and rock music. Some of the top sidemen in the area have floated through the trio of the years. Currently, he’s ably supported by Kip Williams, an eclectic drummer who transgresses genre as leader of jazzy BopNation and classic rock band East of Eden. Jason Jenkins is one of the area’s prime bassists, and anchor of a long-term Saturday night gig at the Barrel Thief, one of the city’s unsung best-of musical secrets.