So this was supposed to be my week to stay in, catch up on sleep, get stuff done.
Yeah right. During the Downtown Jazz Fest? Did not happen.
Monday I got home to find a message on the machine tempting me with free tickets to see "Duets." I couldn't say no.
The first set was to be Jane Bunnett with Hilario Duran, but there were a few... problems. Let's just say they don't like Cubans down south in Americaland. Not even brilliant Cuban pianists. So, after waiting a little while, Marilyn Lerner stepped in to fill the bill. She and Bunnett had played together before, but you could tell they hadn't done it in a while. There was a bit of confusion going on. But after two songs Duran made it to the stage, and it was beautiful.
Bunnett and Duran are a brilliant team who know each other and work together well. His brilliant piano is the perfect foil for her soaring flute. At times it's a slightly retro sound, but in the hands of masters like Bunnett and Duran, it doesn't veer towards kitschy at all. She also played an ornette-esque soprano sax and what looked like a bass flute? Never seen one of those before.
They were followed by the return of Lerner with Sonny Greenwich. Greenwich is a legend, and if anyone doubted that for even a moment, their fears were dispelled instantly. I was raised on Lenny Breau, and Breau is probably the only player I can think of to compare with Greenwich. He began with a solo, an elegiac number written for his wife.
Then Lerner did a solo number of her own. I had thought she was a bit trite and flowery when she and Bunnett had done "You don't know what love is" at the beginning of the evening (a flute needs to be countered with something heavier, I think), but she blew me away with a traditional Yiddish song, heavy on the bass.Standing at the keyboard, she reached inside the piano to dampen and pull the strings with her hand. The sound was incredible. Lerner and Greenwich had time to do a couple of gorgeous duets before the nervous promoters decided it was encore time.
We had been promised (not in so many words) a foursome at the end - this might have been tricky with two pianists kicking around, but Duran didn't reappear - my guess is he was damn tired and just wanted to sleep. The trio section was a little shaky - I got the sense that the musicians were used to doing more solos than they were getting. But once they got the swing of it, they took off.
Well, one night out isn't so bad, is it? I'd get plenty of rest on Tuesday.
Until Jeff called. Haven't seen much of him since he became a 905er, hadn't seen him play since last December. So when he told me he was going to be literally down the street, I could not say no. My will is strong, but my won't is weak.
Two guitar gods in two days! How often does that happen? Not often enough, if you ask me. But what a change of style! On Monday the mood was studied mastery (not that it was sombre; Bunnett was barefoot and kept sneaking around on tip-toe), Tuesday it was all about letting go and making a joyful noise. Healey is a fanatic and a purist about swing, so he played plenty of swing on turmpet and trombone, as well as the blues guitar he's famous for. This was dancing music, and people were dancing. Unfortunately, Alex Pangman wasn't able to sing for us due to illness. Fortunately, her replacement was Laura Hubert. I'd never heard her sing outside of Leslie Spit Treeo - never this kind of music. But she rocked! A powerful voice, versatile with a great bluesy style. A friend I met there could not get enough: "She's gorgeous, got a great voice, and the experience to know how to use it."
So much more informal. As the night wore on, and the musicians more, er, enthusiastic, we had guests (including birthday boy and Healey band member Pat Rush), we had people trading places. I wish I could remember all the names of the kids on stage, but I think I had too much, um, gingerale.
That's it! next time I want to stay in, I'm just not going to answer the phone.
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