Reinhardt Melz belies all such insults and innuendo. For one thing, Reinhardt has been called "the first choice" of drummers in the Portland music scene and he is performing almost every night in some group (so forget the pizza joke). For another, you truly look forward to the drum solo (so then forget the sneeze joke). He is also a high-demand teacher of music.
He relies on none of the old standby tricks. Bill Bruford’s famous dictum was “When in doubt, roll.” Reinhardt is simply never in doubt! He plays with confidence and even courage every time, all the time. He is entertaining! Watching Reinhardt is amazing as he chews on his lower lip or when he gets that enigmatic smile when he is watching Jarrod or Jaybird. He jokes (“Where did the beat go?”) and he cajoles (“Would only one of you play during my solo and not both of you?”).
He is so adept at all rhythm styles from Afro-Cuban to rock, jazz, r&b and anything else you would care to name. If the Martians have a style called ”Interplanetary Deformed Iridium-Oxygen Techno-Soul,” then Reinhardt could play it.
And why not? He began playing sessions when he was 16. His father is none other than Bobby Torres, who played with Spooky Tooth, Joe Cocker, Tom Jones and on and on… And if you want to watch some fun, then you want to see Bobby playing percussion alongside Reinhardt. When they are both in that groove, the same expression comes over their faces, they both chew that bottom lip (not the same lip, mind you) and they simply command the thunder; like Zeus and Thor exchanging lightning-bolts.
One could go on for a long time about Reinhardt’s credentials but the proof is in the pounding. I am still amazed to see him playing a roll on the snare off of his ride cymbal. When he plays, he is not just the time-keeper. With Reinhardt, there is a sense of propulsion in his drumming. He fits in so very well with Jaybird’s soaring guitar and Jarrod’s soulful vocals and jazzy keyboard. They are truly the perfect trio… well, more like trinity.
Here’s the thing: I have watched musicians and bands that strove for perfection (and often came close to it) but they never seemed to have fun doing it. With each and every member of The SoulMates, and with the band in general, having fun and giving a sense of fun is among their highest priorities. Perfection will come when the musicians are enjoying themselves and enjoying each other. This may be the secret ingredient in that great chemistry. They genuinely enjoy playing together. The individual egos are checked at the door and they perform together.
Who could ask for a better experience? Certainly not me.
As Jaybird always says, “We’re gonna join you for some cocktails then be back after a break.”
And so will I…
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