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

Happy Hour with MATT MEYER

Thursday, February 21st

5:00 PM - 6:30 PM

Liz Bills & WYN

Thursday, February 21st

7:00 PM - 8:30 PM

Open JAZZ Sesh

Thursday, February 21st

9:00 PM - 11:00 PM

Nick Ludington Quartet

Friday, February 22nd

6:00 PM - 7:30 PM

Titus Abbott Collective

Friday, February 22nd

8:00 PM - 9:30 PM


Friday, February 22nd

10:00 PM - 11:59 PM


650A Congress Street, Portland ME

Mon-Sat: 5PM-Close
Sun: 6PM-Close

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

Unless the show is ticketed we are always No Cover and we let you decide how much to Donate to the Musicians if you are so inclined.