Drummer/composer Zach Rhea is from Lafayette, Louisiana. He’s an affable guy with an epic beard, an amusing penchant for naming songs, and fantastic musical sensibilities. At a recent San Antonio show which rounded out a short tour through Texas for him with tenor saxophonist/clarinetist Byron Asher and bassist Trey Boudreaux (you may have heard them recently with the group Nutria), Rhea showed the small gathering at Ventura this past Sunday that Lafayette ain’t nothin’ to sleep on, and neither is he.
It was this sudden show that got Rhea on my radar, just something to get me out of the house on Sunday night, not knowing that the booking happened just as suddenly and fate had me checking Facebook at just the right time. Rhea doesn’t necessarily need the listener to catch him in the right time, his playing has at complexity that says he went to school for music but with the amiable charm that comes from playing in Louisiana and meeting people where they are, even though where these particular people are is still at a different level of listenership than most. The tune “Epic”, appearing at length on his self-titled Zach Rhea’s New Music Collective album of last year and in a shorter form on his more recent EP, is easy to latch onto and worthy of its title. “Union Walkway”, named for a route Rhea walked in university and in 5/4 for that route’s irregularity, is a delight to hear. “I Wish Fall Would Hurry Up and Get Here” gets to its point quickly and sweeps the listener up into its swelling melancholy.
In all his songs, Rhea gets to mood and pacing compellingly, unstuffily, and always impressively. He’s been bouncing around the scene for a little while now, but if there was a time to get hip to this fascinating drummer, it’s better to do so sooner than later.
Zach Rhea – drums and cymbals
Tim McFatter – tenor sax
Trey Boudreaux – electric bass
All songs composed by Zach Rhea. Engineered, mixed, and mastered by Chad Viator. Produced by Zach Rhea, Chad Viator and Ryan DeJean. Album design and drawing by Zach Rhea. Album and artist photography by LeeAnn Stephan.
Reagan Mitchell – alto sax
Tim McFatter – tenor sax (1,2,5,7,8) + Wurlitzer (3,4,6)
Nick Stephan – tenor sax (3,4) + flute (6)
Chad Viator – guitar + Rhodes (8)
Dion Pierre – bass (3,4,6)
Joe Butts – bass (1,2,5,7,8)
Zach Rhea – drums + cymbals
Recorded, mixed, and mastered by Chad Viator at Picturebook Sound Studio
Cover by Zach Rhea
All songs written by Zach Rhea
Nextbop Editor-in-Chief Anthony Dean-Harris hosts the modern jazz radio show, The Line-Up, Fridays at 9pm CST on 91.7 FM KRTU San Antonio and is also a contributing writer to DownBeat Magazine and the San Antonio Current.