8 Days A Week - A night-by-night frolic through some of the region's unique club scenes


Sunday Night Jazz, Justin's

We'd like to propose Sunday night as the yin to Saturday night's yang: Where Saturday is boisterous, ambitious, goal-oriented and overt, Sunday is sophisticated, thoughtful, open-minded and subtle. If Saturday is a slice and a Rolling Rock, Sunday is Tempura Tuna Steak and Dr. Frank's Johannisberg Riesling. If Saturday serves as punctuation to the previous week, Sunday is the provocative opening to the next. Or it could be, if you did something other than lying on the couch, half-watching Carnivale and dreading your return to work. And, fortunately for us, all those comparatively rarefied goodies are available at Justin's each Sunday as accompaniment to the performances of the Brian Patneaude Quartet, who themselves fulfill the Sunday adjectives quite nicely.

Each Sunday, a manageable but attentive crowd - many of them regulars - gather in the dining area of Justin's, the Savoy Room, with favorite microbrew or vino close at hand (we're suckers for the Liberty School cabernet), and soak in the versatile work of Metroland's best jazz act of 2003. Tenor-sax ace Brian Patneaude, guitarist George Muscatello, stand-up bassist Ryan Lukas and drummer Danny Whelchel swing from the post-bop urgency of John Coltrane and Joe Lovano, skirt the edges of the avant-world combo of Pat Martino, and head out into modern-classical realms of Leo Brouwer. As a bandleader, Patneaude - no slouch himself - wisely gives his bandmates room within sets to express their varied musical identities, without surrendering cohesion. A quick glance around the room at the audience finds a motley of devotees - some who'd look most at home behind an oak desk, some behind a gold-top Les Paul - all nodding their heads in unison.

Though this is decidedly not the type of jazz you set your radio alarm to, the band maintain an unpretentiously social and ingratiating air, for all their musical fire. That balance between personal ease and compositional depth is matched by the informal but dignified comfort of the space (Wren Panzella's neo-cubist paintings of performing musicians reiterate the onstage action, and the wine-bottle designs of the booths' upholstery reiterate the menu's bounty). It's a dynamic and fitting tension between physical relaxation, appetitive satiation and aural stimulation. And if you can force yourself to abandon your typical pessimism, it's a perfect Sunday-night aperitif to the upcoming week.

- John Rodat