If you weren’t sure what became of the bar and music space formerly known as The Saint, conveniently located smack dab in the middle of Reno’s renovated Midtown district, well it’s time to check out its new persona as Cypress Music Hall.
Gone is the crappy corner stage and some of the worst lighting on the planet that blinded the performers half the time, and made them appear to be encased in amber from the audience perspective.
Last Friday evening Natalie Cressman (Trey Anastosio Band) and Ian Faquini turned this updated venue into a Brazilian jazz club, and in doing so highlighted some of the big upgrades the new proprietors have made.
Cressman, who jam band fans know as the trombone player in TAB, possesses an ageless vocal style that would fit right in alongside classic crooners like Sinatra and Chevalier, and is a perfect foil to intricate and detailed compositions emoting from the Brazilian-born Faquini.
On Friday, Cressman’s beautiful vocals and every note of Faquini’s exquisite acoustic guitar work were clean and bright through the new electronics.
The duo, who met during a collaboration with Cressman’s mother, and later bonded at Brazilian music and dance camp in Northern California, leaned heavily on their 2019 debut, “Setting Rays of Summer” along with a number of songs from their upcoming April 15 release, “Auburn Whisper”.
It didn’t matter that the vast majority of the songs were sung in Portuguese. Cressman would set the scene for each cut, and while the words themselves may have been foreign to most, the imagery created by her flowing vocal married with Faquini’s guitar whether strumming or fingerpicking, always managed to hit the mark.
Even more transformative perhaps were the instrumental numbers. Trombone and acoustic guitar may not be the first combination you’d think of for a duo, but when each artist has a masterful command of their instrument along with a deep understanding of composition, the results can be astounding.
The aural landscape these two laid out; swapping bass lines, melodies, and solo sections was a sonic treat. In some ways it’s a bit of a shame that this level of musicianship doesn’t often find its way to mass performance. It was really quite a treat.
Sometimes a musical reset from effects, auto-tuners, light shows, and histrionics is what a brain and body need. There is always another loud production around the corner. If Cressman and Faquini pay Reno or Tahoe another visit together, it’s an absolutely perfect reason for a date night.
In the meantime, the new stage and sound system complete with modernized lighting make Cypress a must-track on your entertainment calendar.