There's one thing you need to know before you hear Brian Czach and his jazz trio play: This is not your run-of-the-mill jam session jazz band.
No-one calls out tunes, hoping the other musicians can follow along and meld the music into something the audience will recognize or at least enjoy. None of them struggle to find the right key or bring a song to an end.
No, this is the real deal, says bandleader and drummer Czach. They're in suits and ties, playing softly every Wednesday at Mandarin Bar, setting the right mood to enhance the spectacular view from the hotel's 23rd floor lounge.
"We're playing quietly so if you sit right next to me, you can carry on a conversation without have to shout," Czach says. "It's very loungey and chill."
But the trio, made up of drums, piano and bass, is also trying to take audiences on a musical journey, Czach says. While guests sip their cocktails and take in the panoramic Strip view, the trio plays standards from the Great American Songbook, including Miles Davis, George Gershwin, Duke Ellington and others.
Czach moved from New York with his wife six years ago, leaving behind what had become a highly competitive music scene where gigs were drying up. When he arrived in Las Vegas, Czach landed a steady gig with Clint Holmes for several weeks.
"It was great. I got seen by a lot of other musicians in town," Czach says. "It really threw me out into the local scene."
Since then, he's worked a steady stream of gigs. A classically trained percussionist, Czach prides himself on his versatility. He can play in an orchestra pit as easily as he could in a rock band, he says. Czach started playing the drums at age 11 when he joined his family's polka band, the Revelaires. The band included three generations of Czach men traveling around upstate New York playing weddings and parties.
The experience was vital to his development as a musician and bandleader, he says, even if polka gets a bad rap.
"Polka is made to be the cheesiest thing in the world," Czach says, explaining that polka comes in different styles. "That was not the case for us. It's cool music. I don't understand why people have to make fun of it so much."
Czach and his band play three one-hour sets on Wednesdays beginning at 6 p.m.