Someone ducking into Tritone for a moment on Sunday night might have assumed there was a major drum solo going on.
Animated Czech trapsman extraordinaire Pavel Fajt was holding forth behind a Ludwig kit, plus accessories, that took up the entire modest stage area in the South Street club's northwest corner.
If one lingered, however, it became clear: this was a one-man tour de force percussion performance - and a complete set of actual, discernible songs, alternately intense and playful.
It was quite the opposite of the usual drum-solo scenario, in which a mid-concert break for other group members from proper compositions can "give the drummer some," allowing a free-form showcase of skills - an exhibition potentially as self-indulgent as impressive.
On Sunday, after his concisely structured set, the drummer was joined by topnotch Philadelphia musicians Tim Motzer (guitar), Wally Smith (keyboards), and drummer Jim Meneses (who organized the gig) for an engaging avant-rock improv session.
It all started with Fajt by himself, running through 10 songs over 40 minutes, most from his 2001 solo album Drum Trek. (He also previewed a track from his forthcoming Santini Constellation, an album recorded in different 18th-century Czech churches built by Italo-Czech architect Jan Santini Aichel.)
All appendages employed, the 51-year-old native of Brno augmented his cymbal work and tom-heavy sound (three mounted tom-toms, two floor toms, a usually open snare drum) by looping and by striking various large tuned springs strung across a sizable miked ring - and tapping his own bald head.
Fajt spends an hour tuning his drums before a performance, affording melodic possibilities; one live song offered some "Beer Barrel Polka" (Czech bartender/composer Jaromír Vejvoda's 1920s hit).
Besides his renowned Eastern European collaborations - with singer/violinist Iva Bittová, rock group Dunaj ('80s/'90s contemporaries of fellow Czechs Uz Jsme Doma), and his own group Pluto - Fajt has repeatedly played with numerous artists around the world, including Philly's Meneses (whose own illustrious pedigree goes back to pioneering early '80s punk-funk "no wave" local band the Stickmen).