Ladies and gents, I did it again. Even though I swore that after last year, this was going to be the last time I did something even remotely similar.
You may remember the third week of July in 2010. I had four back-to-back shows. Marion Meadows on Spirit, then Jeff Lorber at the Iridium the next night, Bobby Caldwell at the Blue Note immediately after, and top it off with Bob Baldwin’s Joe’s Pub show. Holy damn, I don’t think I’ll forget that week. Great music, great people…but I was also tired! I said to myself, “This won’t happen again! Sleep is good!”
Bob Baldwin and the Listening Party.
This one required a trip out of town, to this little place called Trumpets in Montclair, NJ.
Now, if you’ve never been to Trumpets, I really think you need to go there at least once. It’s a cozy, intimate space that is right off the railroad tracks of the Montclair-Boonton NJ Transit rail line. Blue interior, good food, and an apple crisp to die for, and photos of everyone who had graced the stage lining the walls, it is a space that carries the “old-school intimate jazz club” atmosphere and delivers on it.
What better place to have a listening party in?
The attendee numbers were limited, and before long, Bob’s latest was on the CD player, structured and sounding just like a radio show in its own right. Relax just rippled through the atmosphere the minute that the CD started on the sound system. The Q&A, peppered with plenty of fun questions, was also just as chill. In all, a lovely night…excepting perhaps the fact that NJ transit cancelled my train back. Big thanks to a certain someone who had volunteered to toss me into Newark Penn Station, and thusly made it possible to get home at a semi-ungodly hour. :) You know who you are.
Spirit Cruises: The Rippingtons
With Cote D’Azur out and on sale, I couldn’t miss it. The Rippingtons have always had a reputation for producing wonderful material, and when Russ Freeman brings out his inner rocker – just stand back, that is all.
Last week’s Wednesday night was no exception. I boarded the ship, and when Russ Freeman broke into Cote D’Azur’s title track, it was on. Jeff Kashiwa, a strong saxman in his own right, also had a chance to shine with his current hit, When It Feels Good. Me being picky me, I listened into Jeff’s style, and have to admit that his is more than palatable. Straightforward, but easy on the ear, strong and direct – all the marks of what I like in my horns.
That cruise, though…I can’t put it into words. Somewhere between Black Diamond and the NYC skyline at night, I reaffirmed just why I do what I do: the traveling, the jazz, the writing… It makes me feel utterly alive.
Jessy J at Daniel Street
This was definitely one of my most interesting expeditions, especially if you consider that the first time I saw Jessy J, I really liked her style of music, but felt that her stage presence was a bit lacking. Jessy is in my age group, a bit older than myself, and is bursting at the seams with musical talent, if her style of CDs is to judge. Bossa nova is one of the trickiest animals to tame in the world of jazz, and so is Latin. When I saw her at Berks, I liked what I heard, but not what I saw.
Not this time.
Out came Jessy on the alto, and out came Dizzy’s Tin Tin Deo, and immediately, I saw that she has made leaps and bounds in her stage presence. She danced, she played to her audience, she back-and-forthed masterfully with Rohn Lawrence and Carl Carter, and she made it clear from the first thirty seconds that she was very much into the music that she was playing. The show quickly became a showcase as she went to the mic and got to singing – Mas Que Nada, mind you, is a favorite of mine – and commandeered a party through a Gloria Estefan cover. Granted, I’m no Gloria Estefan fan by any stretch of the imagination, but Jessy knew how to incorporate it into her style. There was no one with her on stage who wasn’t equally involved in the overall dynamic, and the audience was just as into her music as she was.
This right there tells me that Jessy will be a tour de force yet. It’s fascinating to watch a young artist progress, and Jessy showed to me in the space of a year, between Berks 2010 and Daniel Street last week, that she is growing into her musicianship very well.
Fourplay at the Blue Note
If Bob James or Chuck Loeb come to the Blue Note, I’m very sure that you will find me in the audience. If Bob James and Chuck Loeb are at the Blue Note, so is every Fourplay fan in New York City.
You’ve seen the lineups of Fourplay with Lee Ritenour and Larry Carlton, and both of the prior arrangements had turned out hits like Bali Run and Elixir. When Larry Carlton bid Fourplay goodbye in April 2010, the first thing that Bob James did was call up bossa nova/contemp guitar master Chuck Loeb, who immediately said “YES!” when asked to join.
And out came Let’s Touch the Sky.
That new release was the focal point of the Blue Note show, and I saw how New York Attitude on guitar worked its way into the (admittedly) smooth dynamic of Fourplay. If you want to hear a great example of it, check out 3rd Degree. Written by Chuck in a tribute of himself being the third guitarist in the Fourplay lineup, it’s classic Loeb indeed: sharp, gritty, and almost toeing the line of rocker guitar, but not quite there. At the Note, this was a crowd-pleaser, right along Nathan East’s voice on I’ll Still Be Loving You.
Truth be told, while I always knew that Nate could sing, I never thought I’d hear lyrics on a Fourplay album, and I never thought I’d like it as much as I did. Nate East has an interesting trait to his voice: when he sings, it almost sometimes sounds like a duet across octaves. In a lyrical setting like that track, it’s a very, very lush effect. I’m no romantic, but I had to give Nathan credit for this one.
Next on the Musical Menu: Four80East and Marcus Anderson on the 6th! Kirk & Jeff on August 10th! And Norman & Richard on the 17th!
But until then…goodnight everybody!