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Live-stream from ‘Jazz Upstairs,’ it’s 3 Trios

Gene Perla has a new concept for his first live-stream concert in the “Jazz Upstairs’ series at Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown.

“3 Trios” will feature Perla on bass and Adam Nussbaum on drums with three different pianists, Sean Gough, Oscar Williams II and Davis Whitfield.

Each of the keyboard players will perform three selections with Perla and Nussbaum, and will be joined on a fourth piece by Nicole Glover on saxophone.

“Gene Perla’s 3 Trios” will be live-streamed, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 20, Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown.

The “3 Trios” concert will take place on the main stage of Symphony Hall with a limited, invitation-only audience.

In a recent Zoom conference interview, Perla calls the concert “real jazz.” That is not a precise term, and it means something a little different for each of the musicians who are performing in the concert.

Speaking via Zoom from Jersey City, N.J., Glover says it is about “energy, awareness, depth of feeling and sensitivity to communication. And about groove and a sense of swing, which is a feeling and not just a ride cymbal pattern.”

Perla bluntly says it means “no bullshit.” Without classifying the music, his explanation indicates the music will lean toward a traditional format.

”I like to feel that one-two-three-four beat,” says Perla, adding he will be “following the form of songs, improvising on chords, creating something from that framework, pushing the energy around, and creating a foundation that comes from us communicating with one another.”

Nussbaum, who lives around the corner from Perla in Easton, says he sees the “real jazz” concept as “being built up from what happened in earlier years and passing it on, coming out of the tradition and playing in an honest fashion.”

The interaction of the musicians is important for Nussbaum, who says, “I’m playing with people I never played with before; There is a spirit of adventure in working with fellow human beings, getting together, meeting and finding a common ground.”

Perla has worked with musicians that include Miles Davis, Elvin Jones, Joni Mitchell and Sarah Vaughan. He has appeared at the “Jazz Upstairs” series, which usually takes place in the Rodale Community Room, Miller Symphony Hall, 19 times since 2008.

Perla and Nussbaum have worked together in the ensemble, New Light, with saxophonist Dave Liebman. a group that evolved from Perla and Leibman’s work with Elvin Jones. Nussbaum has been compared to Jones, with Perla saying they both provided a “wide” beat when playing, “moving things forward without pushing it.”

Perla and Liebman do not hesitant to play with younger musicians. Glover is 29. Pianist Oscar Williams II, Zooming in from near Detroit, claims not to know how old he is. He good naturedly pulls out his driver’s license, which says he was born in 1982.

The “3 Trios” idea came out of necessity. November would have been Perla’s seventh consecutive yearly show with vocalist Viktorija Gecyte in the Rodale Community Room.

Gecyte did not want to travel to the United States from Europe this year because of concerns about the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Of course, the coronavirus pandemic has affected all musicians. Perla, who played 178 shows in 2019, is now doing five gigs a month, He is doubtful about a projected European tour in January, and his teaching job at Lehigh University, which he has had for 20 years, is on hiatus.

Glover remains positive. “For me, it is the same as it was before Covid,” says Glover,” adding, “I’m not gigging as much, but my energy and focus haven’t changed. I’m still trying to move forward.”

Williams, who lives in Clifton, N.J., says, “I’m grateful to my roommates, my parents, for people with the same ideals that I have and grateful for the opportunity to play. For me, the music goes beyond notes and songs. That’s why I’m here. When this is over, I will be back out there.”

Tickets: “Gene Perla’s 3 Trios,” 7:30 p.m. Nov. 20, Miller Symphony Hall, 23 N. Sixth St., Allentown. www.millersymphonyhall.org/calendar/event/830

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO “Gene Perla's 3 Trios” will be live-streamed, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 20, Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown.