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The Pastabilities sessions in Syracuse

John Rhode trio brings more than good vibes to Armory

Every Wednesday night in Armory Square, three men in dark clothing, carrying hard cases, enter Pastabilities Restaurant. They are jazz musicians hauling in instruments and gear needed to amplify their sounds. They set up in the slightly elevated front window on the south side.

John "Johnny Rohde created this gig after running into long time friend and Pasta's owner, Karyn Korteling up on SU's Hill in 2002. As the two munched on bagels, Korteling told Rohde she might be interested in some regular jazz during the dinner hour on Wednesday nights.

Rohde, a saxophonist, told her he had been thinking of a different instrumentation on the usual jazz trio; substituting vibes instead of drums.

They decided one date

Rohde enlisted his longtime friend and Eye Level band mate (eyeleveljazz.com), James "Jimmy" Johns, on the vibes.

"He is the man most known around town for playing drums and cymbals," Rohde said.

Another longtime friend, Tom Brigandi, was enlisted for the bass. After that one gig, Rohde's three has been a weekly feature. Over the years different players have rolled in, the trio's current nucleus is Johnny, Jimmy and Rick "Not Ricky" Montalbano, who is on keyboards, and also, bass with his left hand. You'll have to check that out for yourself.

These men are well-seasoned and beautiful players. Beyond this, there is a kindred spirit that thrives on amusement. The best example is Rohde's now infamous weekly poster for the gig. It can be viewed at Pastabilities.com or in Pasta's front window or in the either of the restaurants' restrooms.

"It's my weekly PhotoShop/Indesign project," Rohde said.

The posters are mostly retro collages featuring Rhode in some sort of compromising position, usually on someone else's body. He often morphs his features out in a highly effective and peculiar manner that brings a chuckle.

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