Lipbone Redding jazzes up a Goodrich weekend

Less than two weeks after its opening, Goodrich Hall has come alive once again with the sounds of good, live music. Saturday night was a classy showcase prepared by Dodd Neighborhood, complete with wine, cheese and a performer with an uncommon name and even more uncommon talent. Lipbone Redding’s jazz-blues-funk mélange and sly humor made for a rollicking good time for all who were in attendance.

Redding’s unusual moniker comes from his ability to imitate a trombone sound using only his lips, and occasionally a wineglass as a “mute.” His background is a Cinderella story of sorts. Born in North Carolina, he came to New York City to produce events for the Museum of Sound Recording and soon began to play as a subway musician.

After earning enough money from busking to fly to South America and work with a multitude of artists and folk musicians, he crisscrossed America in a camper, traveled the Ganges through India and up into the Himalayas while studying Indian classical music. He then traveled extensively throughout the music festivals and nightclubs of Europe, finally returning to New York in 2005 to play regular gigs throughout the town.

Redding arrived on the scene with his “orchestra,” consisting of drummer Rich Zukor and bassist Jeff Eyrich, to a rapidly filling house. He wore a smart bowler hat with feather and a brown vest over a blue oxford shirt. The rosy light of the stage and the arrangement of couches and small tables provided an intimate feel.

Shortly after eight, Redding began his set, joking around with the audience in a good-natured, gravelly voice that he had been told that this was a “community college,” then launching right into a bluesy song he affectionately explained was about his neighborhood in the Bronx.

He did not showcase his famed mouth skill until after the first song, when he took a break to play a trombone solo using only his mouth and a wineglass, garnering laughs and appreciative applause. Redding went on to use his instrument to solo in his subsequent sets.

Laying out a funk-laden beat was his forte; at times, his between-set ramblings about dogs and tanning salons were more cryptic than comedic, and his humor dipped into the cliché. However, the lively and engaging presence that he brought to the stage never failed, and the music, a feel-good blend of swing, blues and funk, stood on its own.