Pocket Aces

Saturday - January, 26 @ 6:00pm

Pocket Aces brings together three renowned members of Boston’s jazz and improvised music scene: guitarist Eric Hofbauer, bassist Aaron Darrell, and drummer Curt Newton. Their music extends the rich jazz trio tradition, where each voice balances and strengthens the others through contrast, surprise and clairvoyant interaction. Although freely improvised, the music of Pocket Aces is given to bouts of form, groove, and crafty melodies. Distillation of ideas, with a premium on space and tone palette, provides a strong coherence as the trio navigates the familiar and unfamiliar.

This trio first gelled as the rhythm section in the Charlie Kohlhase Explorers Club, an outward-leaning fixture of Boston jazz. Here they began to develop a unique collective voice, continuously pushing boundaries and joyously subverting traditional roles.

Newton describes the group’s approach as “consciously compositional….favoring space over density, distillation over stream-of-consciousness interaction, and fragility over bluster. I think this gives our free playing a strong sense of coherence.” Each of the eight tracks onCull the Heard highlights a different side of this spontaneous intention. He notes how “each of us can set up a rhythmic territory, a cell or cycle, and let the parts slide, collide and click against one another: tracks like ‘Chinook,’ for instance. Other times we’re more of a single-pulse mind, like ‘Crash Course’ or ‘Plain Sight.’”

“If there is a tradition we take a page from, it would be akin to the Art Ensemble of Chicago or Instant Composers Pool,” says Hofbauer, “but obviously we don’t sound anything like them. We do value the idea of ‘instant composition’ in that we want to improvise tunes. We create forms and melodies that we develop, deconstruct and recapitulate just like a written work. We put a premium on timbre, contrast, dynamics and pulse in a way that can’t be easily linked to any given ‘style.’ Yet everything we do is connected to jazz and blues, and those languages are never out of our hearts, spirits or fingers.”

Upcoming Events

Irish Session

Wednesday, July 6th

9:00 PM - 11:00 PM

Layne’s Wine Gig

Thursday, July 7th

5:00 PM - 6:00 PM

Maine Middle Eastern Ensemble

Thursday, July 7th

7:00 PM - 8:30 PM

Showmen’s Rest

Thursday, July 7th

9:00 PM - 11:00 PM

Bird at Sea

Friday, July 8th

6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

Jake Klar

Friday, July 8th

8:00 PM - 9:30 PM


650A Congress Street, Portland ME

Mon: 5PM-11PM
Tues: 6PM-12AM
Wed: 5PM-12AM
Thurs: 5PM-12AM
Fri & Sat: 5PM-1AM
Sun: 4PM-10PM

Blue has won Portland’s Best Jazz Venue for several years in a row and dedicates every Saturday night to Jazz at Blue.

We are a DONATION BASED venue. Please show your support to the musicians by donating to the basket by the stage. Because we don’t charge a cover and 100% of your donations go to the musicians we respectfully ask that each person make a ONE PURCHASE MINIMUM of food/beverage to help support the room. All seats are first come, first served (feel free to share a table). We do not take reservations.