Sunday, September 27, 2009

Most expensive record ever?

Ok, brothers and sisters, explain this to me. Click on the link to eBay here.

$1744 for a freakin' 45? What's the story?! This record isn't even in the Goldmine book. How many dollars is that per inch of vinyl?

And I thought I was crazy for thinking of paying a high price for a Blue Note album or Mosaic box.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Detroit International Jazz Festival- Day Four

Playing right now: Sonny Clark - Sonny's Crib
(The 1990 CD issue. I just noticed a lot of hiss during Clark's piano solo during "With a Song In My Heart." I wonder if that's been eliminated on new editions.)

There was a full day of Jazz Festival activities on Labor Day, but I woke up knowing that things were winding down, so there was a certain bittersweetness to the morning. That and it was starting to look like rain for the first time all weekend. I woke up early because I wanted to take one last look around the vast Marriott at Renaissance Center where I was staying. I walked down to the river to look at the water and the piped in radio was playing Billy Joel's Greatest Hits. It served as a reminder to me that said, "All this great jazz isn't going to last forever, kid. Pretty soon, it's back to Pittsburgh where it's going to be a lot of classic rock and not much else."

Most of my day was going to be taken up by panel talks. But before all that happened, there was the question of breakfast. Jordy wasn't answering his phone so I ran into Dr. Jazz in the lobby, who offered to drive me to a good diner he knew of. The trip ended up being something of a guided tour of Detroit because, with the Labor Day Parade going on, a lot of the streets were blocked off, so getting around proved a challenge. And it being Labor Day, the place where we wanted to go was closed. But the good Doctor pointed out a lot of the sites to me - the Public Library, the Institute of Art, the football and baseball stadiums - many of which were gorgeous and again, made me wish the architect had come to Pittsburgh. Eventually we found a greasy spoon with a killer omelette.

Back at the Pepsi Jazz Tent, Ashley Kahn and Bob Porter discussed the Detroit-New York Connection, talking about and playing music by Thad Jones and Yusef Lateef. Turns out Ashley's writing a book about Blue Note too. Geez, the man is unstoppable.

Across the way, Sean Jones was participating in a recreation of Donald Byrd's A New Perspective album, which had included a vocal choir and a pretty heavy gospel influence. Bassist Rodney Whitaker was leading the group. I think it was happening at the same time as the Detroit-New York talk, so I didn't make it. Wish I had, because the talk about Donald Byrd later in the afternoon dragged on a little long due to the fact that there were too many qualified voices onstage: Sean Jones, Jimmy Heath, Ashley Kahn, Gerald Wilson, to name few. Bob Porter has a great voice but sometimes his matter-of-fact delivery made some strong statements sound a little bland. And when we have this many people onstage, the snippets of music should be just that - snippets. I mean, all of us love the music but we're here at the discussion to hear talk about it. Jimmy Heath's stories about musicians and they're various cars kept things lively though. ("All Sonny Red wanted was to be able to buy a used car. A used car!")

Early in the evening Stefon Harris and Blackout were playing at Carhartt. By that time, a lot of the seats were wet from the rain, so the security guys were wiping them down for people. Beyond that, people didn't seem to mind the weather. We were all trying to get our last kicks out of the festival.

When I sat down, the group was in the middle of a Buster Williams tune called "Christina." Saxophonist Casey Benjamin was wearing one of those strap-on keyboard things that makes one think of Toto, and he was doing the vocoder thing on his voice. It dragged on a little too long and seemed more like a novelty. But after awhile the group kicked in and it sounded pretty cool. Since Black Moth Super Rainbow relies heavily on vocoder, I had to reevaluate my thoughts on the thing. I have the Harris & Blackout album, so I'll have to check out the song.

Harris himself was a wonder to watch, playing so fast that his arms looked like they were performing ballet. "Shake It For Me" had a great choppy feeling that was similar to Monk's "Evidence." During "Tanktified," which was written by drummer Terreon Gully, the group went through some rigourous rhythm shifts and Benjamin was up to his tricks again, this time putting a harmonizer on his horn so he sounded like two saxes soloing in harmony. This group was a good choice for the last day because they really offered a good example of "where the music is going."

In my review of the fest for JazzTimes, I said TS Monk's version "Off Minor" gave me goosebumps. That's not entirely accurate; I actually got a little misty-eyed when they played it. The combination of End-of-the-Festival feelings, the spitting rain and the fact that I was seeing Monk play his dad's stuff...... it was a little much. Plus the arrangement of "Off Minor" from the Town Hall Concert is pretty special to me. That's one of the first Monk albums I bought and I loved the surge of the band in that tune.

The band is technically called Monk on Monk, lead by Thelonious' drum playing son TS. And like his dad, TS isn't trying to fake it here. ("I can't jive or else my father will slap me when I get to the other side," he said between tunes.) He did his homework, making sure that the arrangements were either true to the originals, or updating them in ways that keeps their essence there but takes it to a new level. Case in point for the latter: "'Round Midnight." Everybody has done that song. It's easy to make it just a ballad. Monk "cleared it" with Max Roach and his late mother, and made it upbeat after the slow intro, using the classic code more in the arrangement, enabling the soloist to get back into a chorus for a solo. (This one was done as sextet as opposed to the big band for the rest.)

As far as good example of keeping with the original, they played the version of "Little Rootie Tootie" (which was inspired by young TS) where the whole group played a scored version of Monk's piano solo that he played in original version, released on Prestige.

Later that night in the hotel bar, I approached Monk because I had to tell him how much I dug the set. He was a gracious guy, who is clearly passionate about his father's work. In fact he sat down at a table and kind of gave a sermon to me and one other guy about the whole scope of Monk - how the critics took years to understand him but people took to him immediately; about how jazz is always boxed into different genres unlike rock; etc. It got to a point where I wondered if I was going to be listening to him all night. He only went on for a few minutes and was off with his sax player Willie Williams (like TS, an r&b player first who moved into jazz). It was a good way to finish out my trip, and worth only have three and half hours of sleep before my 5 a.m. lobby call.

Again the shuttle was on time and I got to the airport easily. Thanks, Detroit.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Detroit International Jazz Festival- Day Three

Playing right now: Fred Anderson Trio - Live at the Velvet Lounge

Typically I'd say that only a fool would leave a brunch early, after just one pass through the table of eats. But hearing Wayne Shorter talk is one of the few reasons to cut out early, which is just what I did on Sunday morning. Dr. Jazz presented a nice spread, and there were a number of people there who I would have loved to chat with for a bit, but duty and legend called.

Shorter was doing a talk with Michelle Mercer, who wrote the book Footsteps: The Life and Work of Wayne Shorter. (She and I had crossed paths in the elevator at the hotel the night before and she seemed like a good egg.) I had been warned that he has a habit of talking in tangents and not making much sense, and on this morning, he poured on a lot of metaphor but it all connected and made sense to me. He did mention a number of writers and scientists from James Patterson to Tesla and Stephen Hawking, but he also talked about Bud Powell too. And John Wayne. I forget if it was actually a line that Miles Davis liked or Wayne liked, but there's some western picture where a guy tell the Duke that his brother shoots really fast. And Mr. Wayne counters, "Just how fast IS THAT?!" (Read out loud and stress the last two words to get the full effect.) "That's what you do when you play," Shorter explained.

When it came time for Q&A, I asked him how he felt being approached by someone wanting to write a book about him. He stared at me for about five seconds before he spoke, which was a little intimidating. Then he told me to think about something in my life, a very significant event, something that changed my life and presented me with greater responsibilities. That was his reaction to the book idea.

As he was saying this I thought, he's talking about Donovan. He knows exactly where to get me. Damn, Wayne Shorter, you're that perceptive. Sure he was being general and I was thinking specific, but for a moment I felt kind of connected. Maybe there's more to those novels he reads than I want to believe. Regardless, I decided to ask for his autograph when the session was over, something I rarely do.

Other good Wayne quotes: "To me, the word jazz means, 'I dare you.' The idea of jazz is to dare."
"I try to take the best of the past and use it as a flashlight for the unknown. ....Uh oh [Sounds like] Star Trek!" "The greatest present we can give is to give something back."

I saw James and Julia, a couple that were on the Motown Tour, at the talk and we took some time to check out some of the local architecture, including an art deco building that now houses the First National Bank. Then we rode the People Mover, basically a sky bus that goes in a circle around the downtown area. It's pretty cool looking down, even if half the view is abandoned parking lots and boarded up buildings.

Then off to Carhartt Amphitheater to hear trumpeter Marcus Belgrave. Another Detroit veteran - maybe guru would be a better term, due to all the people he's nurtured - he had Geri Allen on piano with him, along with drummer Karriem Riggins, bassist Bob Hurst and tenor saxophonist DeSean Jones. It was a killing band, in large part because of the way Riggins was driving things, throwing out weird times that sounded like four-over-five, or vice versa, on one song. He also stirred up some thunder on his toms. One of Allen's tunes, which may or may not be called "My Graduation Song," had a 32-bar structure with an unending line of notes, like post-modern bebop. Jones was pretty impressive too. I want to find an album by this band.

Then ideas were flowing in a never-ending stream from tenor saxophonist Ernie Krivda over at Mack Avenue Records Pyramid Stage, which was like another amphitheater built into the ground with a stage set up on it. (Why didn't that architect come to Pittsburgh and try to build this kind of park for us?) I only caught about 45 minutes of Krivda's set and he had only played three tunes up that point, and even though at least two of them were warhorses ("A Night in Tunisia" and "'Round Midnight") what he played kept them new and vital. And I'm usually one to say, "Oh geez" when I hear "'Round Midnight." (Especially when the word "About" gets thrown in the title. That's the Miles album, people.) Kudos to pianist Claude Black, bassist Marion Hayden and drummer Renell Gonsalves, known with Krivda as the Detroit Connection. All of them got space to stretch out and they used it well.

In checking out these two sets, I missed out on Charles McPherson, a great sax player who worked with Mingus at one time. There weren't two many times where I had to make tough choices at the Festival, but this was one of them.

The reason I caught only 45 minutes of Krivda was that Gerald Wilson was premiering his Detroit suite that afternoon back at Carhartt. Mr. Wilson might be 91 years old, but he proved his strength and focus during the first tune, when he pushed his music stand off to the side, conducting the big band without any need for charts. Various sections of the piece reminded me of other tunes when I listened to an advance of the studio recording, but it appears that was intentional. Wilson mentioned Benny Golson before doing a section that sounds like "Along Came Betty." "Ms. Gretchen" - an homage to Gretchen Valade - really sounds like a Mingus tune with its swinging A section, and slow thoughtful B section. (Can't remember which Mingus piece, though.) During "Great Detroit River" four of the five trumpets alternated choruses, then traded fours, then twos; and the baritone saxes had a great duel. No wonder Gerald had to scream during the climax.

Before the Wayne Shorter Quartet's performance a few hours later, there was a sense of eager anticipation in the air. Seats were at a premium, even in the VIP section, where they were checking and double-checking badges (and later asking the photogs to move so everyone could see). The band hadn't played together in three months after Danilo Perez injured a tendon in his foot.

They came out onstage, pretty matter of factly and Perez started off with some thunder in the low end of the piano. At first, drummer Brian Blade, armed with mallets, looked like he was in pain, but that look shifted to joy after about ten minutes, and it stayed that way for the next 80 . In fact Blade seemed to be having the time of his life.

His drum cracks sounded like they were bouncing from the p.a. speakers to the stone walls, and the whole quartet was starting to sound louder than the whole Gerald Wilson big band. (I had a bit of a headache coming into this. But I told myself to ignore it since this is a very rare experience and to not let a headache ruin it for me. It kind of worked.)

For about the first 20 minutes (according to my time checks), Shorter played sparingly. In fact he initially seemed like he was ready to jump in, but held off, sensing things were still taking shape, and the time wasn't right. Eventually he really took off, still with some minimal quality to the situation, but proving that sometimes all you need are a few well-placed notes.

Speaking of notes, I stopped taking them after awhile. On one page, I drew a diagram that I thought might help me remember a tune. I recognized a few melodies (definitely "Go," maybe "Schizophrenia," maybe "Sanctuary") but don't hold me to them. I will freely admit that I'm not totally up on all my Shorter material. But it made me want to pull out Beyond the Sound Barrier again and just sit with it and listen, uninterrupted.

When the set was over - about 90 minutes later, with no real breaks between songs - I had to get away from live music for a bit, as did a few other people who I talked to afterwards. That group put a lot out there for us to absorb and it was still sinking in.

Back at the hotel bar, Jordy and I hooked up and he had to look for Danilo, who had been signed to Mack Avenue that night. We looked around the room and there was Mr. Perez sitting in a booth chatting with Ashley Kahn. So we joined them. Instant Party. And the young lions jamming that night weren't half bad either.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Conley talks, Love Letters debut

Yesterday was quite the music day for me. First of all, I got to interview Mission of Burma bassist Clint Conley, for an article that I'm writing for Blurt. As I most likely stated somewhere on this blog at least once since it began, Mr. Conley is part of the reason I'm playing bass. The day I picked out the changes to "This Is Not a Photograph," I decided the four-string was the instrument I should try to play in a band. Although that wasn't a Conley-written tune, I liked most of his songs best in the band.

None of this was mentioned in the interview yesterday. (I always give myself a "Don't Gush" talk before I start. And if there's an opportunity to gush politely, it comes at the end.) This was a smart move because it very likely might have made Clint uncomfortable or at most, he would've offered a polite, "Gee thanks." He probably gets it from enough guys like me on a regular basis.

The interview went really well. He's a great talker and has a good perspective on the Burma "legacy," if you will. Not that I'm going to give anything away now, in hopes that you'll read the piece when it runs (sometime around the release of their new album on October 6). But it kind of blows my mind to think that a guy who was in such a seminal band is very casual about the whole thing. But maybe that says more about me than him.

A few hours after the interview, the Love Letters debuted at the Harvest Party that my workplace sponsored. The funny thing about this show is that it kind of served as a catalyst in getting the band to evolve. After our first practice (which went extremely well, and we barrelled through four songs) I mentioned it to our store's marketing director, to which she suggested that maybe we should play at the party. It was a bit of an effort but we cobbled together eight songs in the weeks leading up to the show. Things were a little sloppy at some points, with a blown chord change here and microphones going in and out, but people didn't seem to notice. We got a pretty enthusiastic response from the audience, many of whom came up to us afterwards to tell us how much they liked it.

As I was setting up my bass, I started playing the riff to "Peking Spring" by Burma. And after we played, the head of my store said he noticed up on it. It's a relatively obscure to so that was impressive that anyone picked up on it.

I'm not at home now (at work early; hopefully car comes back today) so I don't have my scoop pad w/notes from Detroit, so I can't give you Day Three yet. BUT IT'S COMING REALLY. I STILL REMEMBER WHAT WENT DOWN. WHEN YOU READ IT YOU'LL KNOW WHY.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Detroit International Jazz Festival- Day Two

After checking out a panel discussion on Elvin Jones, it was time to check out another Jones - Sean. I've seen him play numerous times in Pittsburgh and wrote about him for City Paper but this was the first time I've seen the trumpeter with his regular group, with Orrin Evans (piano), Brian Hogans (alto sax), Vincente Archer (bass) and Josh Davis (drums). They played a lot of tunes from his latest album The Search Within, but they also played a version of "Resolution" from Coltrane's A Love Supreme, that was astounding. Everyone was firing on all cylinders. Jones was wailing, Hogans went on such an extended tear that the rhythm section dropped out, just like McCoy Tyner and Jimmy Garrison did for Trane.

Jones likes to go into the upper register during solos, sometimes bending those notes with his lips. But he never uses those high notes to show off. They're connected to a greater idea in his solos.

I had to cut out a few minutes before the end of their set because Dave Brubeck was playing at the Carhartt Amphitheatre. And these shows were all starting right on time, so I didn't want to be late. However I was still late because Brubeck started a few minutes early.

Dave and the band were sight to see: four older cats all with silver hair, all wearing shades. Alto saxophonist Bobby Militello had a bit of a Santa Claus look going (with the recent passing on Joe Maneri, the world needs another saxophonist who could pass for St. Nick), a jolly and plump fella blowin' a horn. Dave looked pretty good for a guy who had to cancel shows earlier this year because of illness. And his hands were flying over that piano, doing that patented Brubeck time changing thing (is it 3 over 4?) during solos, getting audience members to yell, "My man!" during a blues solo, and opening "Yesterdays" with a dramatic rubato that really seemed to come from the heart.

I've seen him play "Take Five" before but never "Blue Rondo a la Turk." So I got goosebumps when the band - which by then included Dave's sons Chris (trombone) and Danny (drums) and their bandmates - kick into that bouncy riff. During his solo in that tune, Dave quoted "Button Up Your Overcoat." That guy is still sharp.

Later that night I kept turning around and seeing Chris Brubeck at the bar and was tempted to talk to him. I didn't, because anything I said would come out sounding like, "Your dad is soooooooo cool." And I had only caught the last couple minutes of the Brubeck Brothers' set before Sean Jones came on, so I felt funny about that.

I think it was at the Brubeck show that I caught up with my friends Mike and Shaunna, he of the Tribune Review and she of WDUQ. They don't have cellphones so it could've been hard to find them, but like most of the weekend, everything came together.

Later that night we wound up going to see Bennie Maupin's Dolphyana. He played the omnipresent bass clarinet on Bitches Brew and worked as a sideman with Horace Silver and Lee Morgan, before joining Herbie Hancock for a number of albums that include Headhunters. His group tonight had him on bass clarinet and tenor, Nestor Torres (flute), Jay Hogarth (vibes, marimba) Billy Hart (drums) and Darek Oles (bass).

They played a couple Dolphy tunes including: "Out To Lunch," which sounded great and obtuse; "245" which wasn't as dirty as the original but just as good; the equally abstract "The Madrig Speaks the Panther Walks." The original Maupin works were also pretty fascinating, especially the closing "Prophet's Motifs" which was Dolphyesque but also morphed through different rhythms including a funk beat. That was the closing tune and the only one, unfortunately, where the sound seemed perfectly balanced. A guy who I met on the Motown tour told me he agreed that the mix was really unbalanced, with the flute sounding distorted and that it seemed like Maupin was doing most of the mixing himself.

Back at the hotel bar, bedlam ensued. People were cutting in front of people who had been waiting 10 minutes for a drink. And musicians who looked like they were 13 years old were playing at the jam session. It was loud there. After two drinks, I went back to my room, tried to go to sleep but not before watching a Law and Order:SVU rerun and almost staying up until 4 a.m. watching American Graffiti.

Detroit- The Motown Museum

It didn't hit me until we were in the makeshift theater that I was actually sitting in the building where all the classic Motown singles were made. The room was clearly a converted recording studio room, with walls built specifically to accentuate or deflect sound bouncing around the room. So who knows who once stood where I was sitting?

On Saturday morning, Dr. Jazz, a Detroit jazz promoter affiliated with the Detroit International Jazz Festival, charted a van for anyone who wanted to get the tour of the Motown Museum, which is located at 2648 West Grand Boulevard - the same place where the music was recorded. The neighborhood looks like a regular residential area that just happens to have a building with "Home of the Hits" written in script above its front windows. The guys who were giving the tour were really good, too, offering a lot of information without bogging it down with long lists of names or song titles, or just zapping the life out of the history. They really did a good job of letting you know how Berry Gordy started this enterprise, how he kept it going and how the music sounded so good. In other words, they let you know why you should care.

Studio A was the last stop on the tour, which makes sense because that's the most compelling place in the building. That's where all the recordings were done. And there are nearly lifesize pictures on the wall of Stevie Wonder and the Supremes at sessions, so naturally the tour guide (somehow "docent" doesn't seem appropriate at this museum) made some of the ladies do a Supremes formation, some of the guys do the Temps and one of the kids do a Stevie Wonder head wave right in the spots where the originals did it. Group participation usually isn't cool on a tour, but again, there's no tour like this one.

Best line of the tour: Q: What do you call a singer who can't do the Temptations dance? A: A Four Top.

Among the people on this tour, along with me and Jordy, was Ashley Kahn, who among other things wrote the book A Love Supreme: The Story of John Coltrane's Signature Album. And a book about Miles Davis' Kind of Blue. And one about Impulse Records. And he writes for JazzTimes. This is the man I want to be.

Of course I didn't tell him that when I introduced myself. Or any other time over the weekend. I tried to play it cool. So the cat's out of the bag if he finds this.

He was nice enough to take my picture a couple times in front of the museum. I foolishly didn't bring my camera so all I had was my cellphone. I thought the lint that's all over the lense created that Penthouse look, but I actually think it's the sun coming over the building. The second one looks better. After he took this one below, Ashley deadpanned, "You know you're five minutes late for work." Mr. Gordy's gonna whup me.
Then it was back to the hotel and back to the festival.


The upcoming posts will focus more on the music, I promise.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Detroit International Jazz Festival- Day One

It's been eight days since my adventure at the Detroit International Jazz Festival began, but it's taken that long for all the thoughts in my brain to settle, so that I can tell you what happened. (Actually I didn't have time to start blogging until my write-up for JazzTimes was finished, but the first thing sounded better.)

JazzTimes picked me to be the writer who would cover the festival for the magazine. Marking its 30th year, it was a pretty collasal event, with music going almost non-stop.

As I sat in the Pittsburgh airport with two hours to kill before my plane left (who'd'a thunk I'd get through security that quickly?), I realized that this would only be my fourth trip on a plane. I'm more of a train kind of guy, but that takes a long time and the cost of my flight was taken care of for me.

When I finally touched down in Detroit, I wasn't exactly sure where to go because there was supposed to be a driver ready to pick me up. But no one working in the airport knew where the Jazz Festival shuttle was. It was at that point that I got a call from one of the media guys saying that "they're looking for you at the airport." Me?! They know who I am? Oh yeah, I am a published writer and I know something about the music so that amounts to something. The guy in the call directed me to Passenger Pickup, where I could find the shuttle, and when the other person who was getting a ride showed up, we were whisked off to the hotel.

The swell festival volunteer directed me to where I was to check in with the hotel and with the festival itself, and I found out I had a VIP badge and a press badge so I could go upfront at all the shows. I also met my new friend Jordy who would be my running buddy for most of the weekend.

After hanging out in my room for a bit, looking at Caesar's Palace across the Detroit River in Windsor, trying to catch a bit of a nap (not possible after all the coffee I had that morning), I headed to the Pepsi Jazz Talk Tent where Hank Jones was appearing. Now the theme of the festival was "Keepin' Up with the Joneses," meaning Hank and his brothers Elvin and Thad. So his lineage and his age (91) made Hank a worthy honoree. With all that he's done, you'd hope that the person interviewing him would ask some good leading questions. Maybe "What was Charlie Parker really like at that Verve session" might not sound good, but I bet the answers would be. Instead, a lot of the queries were pretty general and phrased like yes-or-no questions.

Later I went to a VIP event where I met a writer who grew up about three blocks from me in Pittsburgh. That could only happen to someone from my town too. Gary Graff is about 7 years older than me (I know because he graduated from high school the same year as my brother Pete) and a good egg. He knows a lot about music but he's not high and mighty about it. No more sarcastic than I am, which I like. He took me and Jordy to the Dirty Dog, a restaurant that had a tent set up near the Chase Main Stage where Hank Jones was playing that night. We waiting forever for our server to take our orders and then waiting forever and a day for the food to come.

While all this was going on, the festival was starting and Hank Jones was getting a proclamation from the mayor of Detroit. Gretchen Valade, the grand dame or fairy godmother of the festival (and I mean that in a good way, in case you're reading this Gretchen; you're the tops) told Hank, "You're playing is so elegant and spiritual, it makes me cry. And I think everyone agrees." When Hank started playing it became clear that Gretchen was right on. His touch was so precise, with the right amount of subtlety and thunder, it was astounding. One of the tunes he played with Wes Montgomery's "Twisted Blues," which has a pretty complex melody. And Hank chewed up it. A couple people thought Hank was being held back because his regular drummer, Willie Jones III wasn't with him, replaced by Carl Allen. But I thought they all swung like hell, with bassist George Mraz in between them.

I kind of lost track of Jordy and Gary in a quest for coffee and a bathroom (not necessarily in that order). Chick Corea was up next, with Stanley Clarke and Lenny White joining him. I guess you could call them Return to Almost Forever, since all that was missing from the RTF equation was Al Di Meola. And electric instruments. Chick stuck to acoustic piano and Stanley played upright bass.

Someone in the audience yelled out "500 Miles High" and that RTF tune kicked off the set, coincidentally. The soundperson was getting a lot of feedback from one of the instruments and I was afraid Chick was going to rip their head off. He did walk over and talk to the person working sound, but he seemed cool about it. In fact he and Stanley were doing a lot of smiling while they played. Stanley seemed to pick up on the vibe of "I Mean You," doing his own kind of Monk-like solo. Of course it wasn't long before he started doing that double-time slapping thing he likes to do. Chick also got some Monk-isms going in a later tune that sounded like it could've been "Evidence" or "Straight No Chaser." They were definitely tight and swinging, but overall I couldn't get completely into them. Maybe it was the lack of sleep that was catching up with me.

As I walked through the blocked off streets by the stage, it astounded me that so many people had come out for the show. It was the equivalent of Pittsburghers coming to Point State Park for Fourth of July fireworks. For the ones who couldn't see the stage, there was a huge jumbotron held high over the stage for everyone else to see.

I went back to the hotel after they were over, and the jam session was in full effect. I didn't see anyone I knew (musician or writer or publicist), so rather than getting a drink and falling asleep in it, I decided it was time to hit the hay. After all, I had to get up early for the tour of the Motown Museum. More on that next time.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Detroit International Jazz Festival

Just got back today from Detroit. Too much to say and one post won't cut it. But I'll start with one of the final moments. Ran into TS Monk in the hotel bar last night. His group had played "Off Minor," using the big band charts from the Town Hall Concert, which is my favorite version of that tune. It got me right here and I had to tell him that. The younger Monk proceeded to testify on the power of his father's music and the simplicity of it. So much so that I wasn't sure I was going to get away from him without an hour-long oration.
Not to say that I didn't enjoy hearing it. The guy is cool.
So it made three hours of sleep and a 5 a.m. lobby call worth it.