Photo: Members of Out of The Bunker who will be performing at Trinktisch this Sunday, May 21.
By Monica Collins
Michael Shea, ad hoc leader of a new jazz quintet, says the name of the group, “Out of The Bunker,” is a testament to the world post-COVID after an epoch of isolation. People now go out without masks and cluster again in groups to hear music. And one place with a new listening audience is Trinktisch, the beer hall at 87 Leonard St. in Belmont Center where live jazz has become a vibe repast at Sunday brunch.
The first time I heard “Out Of the Bunker” play jazz standards such as “Bluesette, “Body And Soul,” “Skylark” and “Fly Me To the Moon,” at Trinktisch, I was transfixed. The music was wonderful, the food and drink tasted delicious. The whole event just seemed like one of those rare occasions when all was right with the world – and the town of Belmont.
Two quintet members live in Belmont: Casey Jones, the drummer, is also a software engineer, and Gregory Schneider, saxophonist, is the Head of School at Belmont Hill. Keyboardist Shea, who has masters degrees in jazz and composition, is a professional musician and bassist John Capello is a high-tech entrepreneur who has also played with jazz groups through the years.
The guitarist Bunker (George) Henderson graduated from Belmont Hill School in 1968 and after college and law school went on to have a long career as an environmental lawyer and U.S. Attorney. He’s the husband of Dita, my college roommate and, yes, Bunker still carries the childhood nickname that inspired the quintet’s moniker – although Henderson is too self-effacing to admit that or other accolades in his backstory, notably his early career as an assistant attorney general focused on the Boston Harbor clean-up. When after decades, Henderson finally retired from the government, he homed in on another of his passions – the guitar. He yearned to become proficient as a jazz guitarist.
At the Powers Music School, these players found each other, jammed and learned to play together. They rehearsed until they decided to go wide. Shea and Jones had long been craft beer aficionados and patrons of Trinktisch. One thing led to another. Chef Kate Butler and CEO Suzanne Schalow offered them the gig to play every other Sunday, alternating with the MAC3 Jazz Trio. (“Out Of the Bunker” plays again on Sunday, May 21).
Now, Butler says she couldn’t be more pleased with Sunday’s sweet strains at Trinktisch. “Beer goes well with music,” she says. “This seems to really work.” Back in the kitchen, Baker gets much joy “hearing them play and hearing people at the tables clapping, it’s an overall amazing experience.”
Good music can lure you out of any bunker.