Take 3 Brings on the Good Vibes at the Black Cat
By: James Thomas, March 15, 2012
JAMES THOMAS - Take 3 is Lars Johnson, vibes; Martin Vasquez, drums; Jack Hart, keyboard; with special guest Scott LaRiviere, bass.
There was a time when the vibes were a common sight at a regular jazz gig. But these days, it's a welcome surprise to hear Lars Johnson, founder and vibes-man of the new band Take 3, play at the Black Cat Tavern in Hyannis.
It’s there that he joins his lifelong teacher Martin Vasquez and pianist Jack Hart every Thursday and alternating Saturdays for regular sessions of Take 3.
“When you have three guys with that background, getting the hits together isn’t much of problem,” Johnson says.
The group’s concept is rooted in percussion—yes, technically speaking, the piano is a percussion instrument because it gets struck.
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Take 3 jazz trio
Every Thursday at 7:30 PM and alternating Saturdays at 8 PM165 Ocean Street Hyannis (508) 778-1233
I ask Johnson if there any truth to a rumor that he won his vibes in a poker game.
“That’s an urban legend,” he chuckles. “Imagine how ridiculous that would be, some guy going all-in on credit and then wheeling a vibraphone into the room as collateral!”
“That said,” he adds, lowering his voice, “there may be some truth to the rumor that a particularly good night of poker was a contributing factor to me being able to afford that particular instrument.”
Drummer Martin Vasquez is a household name on the Cape Cod music scene. He’s played with everyone. But “MV” is particularly effusive about his current project.
“This is the first time since 1984 that I’m actually playing in a jazz combo, and I just love how I’m sitting in between two monster players who just absolutely make it happen every single tune, every single night. These guys are monstrous players, and I’m just fortunate to sit in the middle and lay down the track.”
He continues on a personal note. “I’ve done a lot of stuff. A lot of stuff. This is… you know… fun. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a band like this. Everyone in the band is as good as everybody else. That’s the most enjoyable part of this whole thing, the level.”
It’s also particularly special to be in a band with his protégé.
“Actually, Lars has as much international touring and high-level experience as me now. We’ve been playing on the same page since he was a kid. There’s a huge familiarity there,” says Vasquez.
Luck comes in threes
As I turn to Hart for a comment, the great relationship between the three becomes self-evident.
“Oh, you don’t need to ask him anything,” they joke. “He’s only here ‘cause he has a badass car and a badass PA system.”
Of course they don’t mean it. Johnson quickly points out that Hart “is actually two people. When we’re playing a trio, he’s playing both bass and piano. He’s really the one who makes the whole thing work.”
Echoing the earlier sentiment, Hart says, “I have to say, this is the one gig that I am absolutely looking forward to every week. I come in and it’s like… bliss. Everyone is relaxed, knows where they’re going, and even how to get back. Well, usually.”
The Black Cat is the perfect venue for their music, and they know it.
“The whole staff is great, the place is great, the food is great, the crowd is great,” Vasquez says. “Seriously, I fear that I will wake up from this and learn it was a dream.”