Saturday night was one of those good ones, and I am truly sorry if you had planned to make it, and then made other plans. The band, with the extraordinary talents of Ron Horton on trumpet, Rufus Reid on bass, and Ali Jackson on Drums, was finding new directions, new areas of expression. Frank Kimbrough was sitting at the bar, his big ears a few feet away, which certainly lent some inspiration. In fact, Frank jumped up and swung with us on Minor Adjustment, a minor blues from our new CD, The Creep. “Minor Blues in Bb?” he asked, getting settled into his piano bench, as if it was an unusual key.
The first set was sold out, and although the club is not large, the new space (it was just moved downstairs) is more open - feels better to me. The acoustics are great, and save for a the bass amp, we were playing without amplification. The vibe of the audience was energized and supportive (with the help of the expressive cheers of Ramiro, the wisecracking bartender, one of the exceptional amenities of The Kitano.
Gino, the proprietor, was there, running the show as he always does with the soulful, caring manner of someone giving a housewarming party. In fact it felt a little like a party - well, we WERE celebrating the release of The Creep, a recording that set a few personal precedents: it is the first recording I have made without a “chordal” instrument, and was the first release on my new label, Plastic Sax Records. Also, it’s the only time I have played just the alto sax on one of my own records. Lot of new ground here.
Douglas Chang was in the audience, the filmmaker and director of the movie, Chaography: Variations on the Theme of Freedom, in which I portrayed an iconic free-jazz alto player. He is also the director, and co-producer (with the lovely and spirited Ivette Dumeng, who also happened to compose the creative liner notes on The Creep) of a TV show we are working together, where I hit the road in my 1971 VW camper, visiting clubs in cities across the country, exposing the hidden musical talent found there. The “sizzle” (or trailer) is almost finished, and I expect this to be on the air in the next few months.
Sitting ringside at the club were two good friends - Mark Lynn Baker, a great comedic actor (Google him...), and his fiancee, Jazz singer Christa Justus (Google her). Also present were two of the three finalists in the essay contest we created, “Why is Jazz Important.” I have posted the winning essay, by 17 year old Elizabeth Levin, on my web site (www.tednash.com/essay.html).
Present for the second set were more musicians for whom I have great respect, including Tim Armacost and Anne Drummond. Tim and I studied with the same teacher, Charlie Shoemake. I first heard Anne when she was 17 years old, competing in the Essentially Ellington festival in NYC. When she played some blues at the jam session, everyone’s head turned, their expressions asking “Who is this?”
Music is such a cathartic way to make a living. I feel blessed to have found something I love to do. It’s more than what I do, it’s what I am. I wish every young person could discover what it is they love doing, and what they are good at. Not only will they be happier, but the world will be a richer place.