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Posts Tagged ‘Herbie Hancock’

Bowlive V: Night VII – Soulive w/ Marco Benevento, Sonya Kitchell, Roosevelt Collier, Felix Pastorius, Oteil & Kofi Burbridge, and Brandon Niederauer @ The Brooklyn Bowl (03.21.14)

Sonya Kitchell Set
Hurricane
Dust
Broken Heart
Follow Me In
Catapult
Mexico
Family
This Feeling
At First

The seventh night of Bowlive V at the Brooklyn Bowl started off on a more mellow vibe than the previous night openers. Bowlive V has produced rocking sets by The London Souls and Leroy Justice and the wonderful, jazzy Alan Evans Trio but now it was time for a chick flick of musical sorts.

Sonya Kitchell made her Bowlive debut with Jesske Hume on bass, Nate Wood on guitar and the amazing Neal Evans on drums and keyboards. Neal Evans on drums, you say? Yes, drums! When Neal is not playing with Lettuce or Soulive, he holds down the drums for Sonya Kitchell.

“I had a blast rocking the drums last night. Drums were actually my first instrument” ~ Neal Evans

Both Soulive and Sonya Kitchell were signed under Velour Music Group for a while but both have since graduated to new management. This explains their affiliation but there was a larger reason behind choosing Kitchell to open for the last night of Bowlive. Kitchell’s musical resume is filled with gems but she is most noted for touring with Herbie Hancock in 2008 after she helped him on his record River: The Joni Letters.

Neal Evans by Mark Dershowitz

Neal Evans with Sonya Kitchell by Mark Dershowitz

Sonya Kitchell Setlist

Sonya Kitchell Setlist

This set was was a defining characteristic of a Bowlive Residency. Was it what everyone wanted? I don’t think. Was it it as jamming as it could have been for a Friday night opener? Not really. However, Soulive enjoys changing up the game, introducing us to their favorite artists, mixing up the genres and giving exposure to the music world in whatever way they can. And please, do not get me wrong, Sonya Kitchell is a beautiful songstress and writer. I remember hearing Kitchell on Pandora about seven years ago singing “Let Me Go,” off her Words Came Back To Me album which was released on my 26th birthday. I bought it the next day. However, I am a lyric-loving female and the audience was filling up with dude after dude.

Kitchell’s band, was dressed all in white, definitely an artistic expression. White, almost as pure as her sweet, hopeful voice. Her set consisted completely of new tunes, some off the new, yet-to-be-released album, some even newer and some not recorded yet.  There was a nice treat when Marco Benevento came out and played piano for her tune, “Family,” a beautiful melodic tune. “This Feeling” was truly felt with Sonya Kitchell‘s effervescent vocals, Marco’s twinkling keys and Alan Evan’s consistent drumming.

Overall, Sonya Kitchell is a silent but deadly rager. A little grungy, a little edgy, a lot of sex appeal and her high registry and ethereal voice was captivating. She is soft, yet intense and today, she continues to impress the underground music community stretching those high notes and flipping between genres with every song.

Set I
Shaheed
Swamp
Brother Soul
Reverb
Aladdin
3rd Stone From The Sun –> Lenny
Manic Depression
Stratus

The intensely dedicated members of Soulive, drummer Alan Evans, keyboardist Neal Evans and guitarist Eric Krasno, stomped out an audience favorite, “Shaheed,” to open the first set. It was Friday night at the Brooklyn Bowl and if anyone knew what that meant, it was this trio. They brought the fire. The “Swamp” brought out the Shady Horns and there was just some gnarly, funky, connected vibing happening on stage. It got so deep that Alan Evans, for the second time this week, broke his snare drum.

“No snare drum can contain Alan Evans.” ~ G.F

“Brother Soul” showcased saxophonist Ryan Zoidis, who got a jumping ovation because everyone was already standing and as his solo peaked the crowd could be seen jumping in rhythm to his playing. This was a “GROOVER,” as John Scofield would say. Light Technician Victor Cornette supported the music wonderfully with his light work, uplifting the audience that much more. Next on deck was “Reverb” into “Aladdin.” Sonya Kitchell was on vocals in line with the Shady Horns while Neal musically defined the namesake of the song.

“Reverb is created when a sound is produced in an enclosed space causing a large number of echoes to build up and then slowly decay as the sound is absorbed by the walls and air” ~ Dictionary.com

Jimi Hendrix’s “3rd Stone from the Sun” and Stevie Ray Vaughn’s “Lenny” was next and The Shady Horns exited the stage. This is always an epic pairing of tunes but when you add in a child guitar prodigy, who only turned 11 last week, things get nuts. The amazing Brandon “TAZ” Niederauer made a big name for himself on Jam Cruise this year. Here it was now that this virtuoso guitar player I had heard so much about was going to show off his skills next to one of the best guitarists in the world.

“Everyone pulled out the Fire for night 7. Taz. Wow. Alan and Neal said it perfectly. Music starts in schools and our support needs to go there. Taz is a prime example of pure unadulterated raw talent. Was really humbling to hear him play and shed his soul on all of us. Can’t wait to say “I heard him play when he was 11″ to my kids one day.” ~ A.L. 

“My friend Dan said about Taz – “he’s not just playing he is feeling it. He’s just got it” ~ K.G.

“The crowd on the back half of the dance floor all turned to the screen to watch when Taz started playing!” – R. L.

When they broke into Hendrix’s “Manic Depression,” it was slow going but then Taz just took it away. Krasno gestured to the sound guy to turn Taz’s sound up. Measure after measure, Taz just built and built upon himself, delivering his solo so intensely, yet wearing such a stoic expression. Not even a little smile. Totally in his head. Everyone’s jaws were on the ground and there were moments when the audience was just screaming in shock and awe. Taz sounds and acts like a seasoned veteran of the stage and watching him grow up musically is going to be a wonderful experience so keep your eyes peeled.

“This is why we need instruments in school y’all.” ~ Alan Evans passionately spoke into the microphone.

1960's photo of John Scofield working with Jaco Pastorius

1960’s photo of John Scofield working with Jaco Pastorius

Alan Evans called out for “Felix” and shouts, “Where’s Marco?” The unannounced bassist Felix Pastorius was introduced by Alan and special guest Marco Benevento joined the stage. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better Felix Pastorius shows up to play some cranking bass for us. Felix is a fantastic musician in his own right but it would be foolish not to mention that he is the son of the late virtuoso jazz fusion bass player from Weather Report, Jaco Pastorius. Many members of the audience could be heard talking about the excitement of seeing Jaco’s son play at Bowlive.  Felix did not disappoint adding a groovy jazzy bass sound to the Soulive mix.

The Shady Horns were back. The set-list listed Jaco’s soulful “The Chicken” next but they nixed that and went into Billy Cobham‘s “Stratus” instead.  Both songs are famous jazz fusion standards but only one made the cut for what turned out to be a psychedelic mash-up of musicians, literally the definition of fusion.

“This was my favorite song of the entire run” ~ T.P.S

Set II
Jesus Children of America/Stay
The Dump
The “In Crowd”
Revolution
Benny and the Jets
When My Guitar Gently Weeps
Soulful Strut
The Ocean
She’s S0 Heavy

Alan Evans handled the vocals for the Stevie Wonder cover, “Jesus Children of America,” while his feel-good drumming kept the beat.  “The Dump” is actually a Lettuce tune off their first album, Outta Here, which really brought the crowd up. However, it was when Marco Benevento came out for “The ‘In’ Crowd,” a song composed in 1964 largely for pianos and horns, when the stage might as well have caught on fire from the heat. Marco laid down a beautiful melody of keys while each member of the horn section soloed starting with James Casey, to Ryan Zoidis and then Eric Bloom. Bloom’s trumpet solo was reminiscent of Dizzy Gillespie and Casey brought it all home. At one point, Alan Evans pointed out that Marco was wearing a Soulive shirt and the crowd cheered.

“Marco has a special relationship with his piano and the audience. The bond is not to be taken lightly. His sensitive side is what makes him talk to the piano and relate to the audience.” ~ H.H

Miami’s acclaimed pedal steel guitarist, Roosevelt Collier from The Lee Boys, was the next guest for the evening.  He began by to sitting in on The Beatles’ “Revolution.” It was a special treat for Bowlive fans to see this uniquely talented musician play his equally unique instrument, the lap steel guitar.  The Bowl shrieked with the lovely sounds echoing from Rosie’s instrument. Collier was also in town for an Allman Brothers Band after-party gig at B.B. Kings Blues Club in Times Square the following night.  There was wonderful playfulness between Neal Evans and Collier. Marco was in his own world crushing so hard. It’s quite possible that Marco gets better with every note he plays. Roosevelt added a fantastic layer of sound with his lap steel-guitar as he and Krasno battled it out in a full on jam session for the ages. Pure hot-sauce.

Soulive added another piece of musical history to the Bowlive run when, with Roosevelt Collier and Marco Benevento’s help, they jammed out their first ever Elton John tune in Bowlive history: “Benny and The Jets!” What a crowd pleaser. Sonya Kitchell was back on vocals, in line with the Shady Horns and then Marco got up from his rig and dangled the microphone over the heads of those in the front row. “Just these guys!” said Marco and the audience joined in on the biggest sing-a-long of the run. The funny man continued to swing the microphone around heads before going back to his keyboards to have a duel with Collier.

The magic continued with “My Guitar Gently Weeps” and “Soulful Strut.” What more is there to say that I haven’t already said. Classic after classic, this group of musicians, all seasoned jamming artists, continued to slay the audience with solo after solo. Jam after jam. Collier and Krasno continued to duel it out on the strings while the Evans brothers held down the rhythm so tightly. Audience members had their hands extended towards the sky as if they were worshiping to their gods. Their Gods of Rock!

For the next tune, it was fun to see Marco opened it up with the famous John Bonham count-in, “We’ve done four already but now we’re steady and then they went: One, Two, Three, Four.” BOOM!!!! The audience was immediately washed away by a rousing rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “The Ocean.” It’s particularly nice to hear this tune performed during Bowlive with Marco because Led Zeppelin doesn’t have a keyboardist in their band, making this arrangement unique.

Encore I
I Want You (She’s So Heavy)

The set was supposed to end there but it was Friday night and Soulive was on fire. So, they pulled out Encore #1 with Beatles’ tune, “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).” Ironically, on this day in 1984, part of Central Park in New York was renamed Strawberry Fields in honor of John Lennon.

Encore II
So Live!
Cash’s Dream
Nubian Lady

The stage empties for about 60 seconds. At that point, Alan Evans is back on the microphone stating, “We were going to end the set but we have some more surprises y’all, all the way from the Beacon Theatre, Oteil and Kofi Burbridge.” Eric Krasno leans into the microphone with a huge grin and says, “Burbridge Brothers in the building!” Oteil Burbridge has been the bassist for The Allman Brother’s Band since 1997 and his brother, Kofi, has been playing flute and keys for many bands on the jam scene for years as well.  Hearing Kofi’s flute in the mix of “So Live!,” “Cash’s Dream,” and “Nubian Lady” was stunning. He fluttered through the songs, bouncing back and forth between the piano and his flute, both instruments he dominates.

Photo Courtesy of Mark Dershowitz

Photo Courtesy of Mark Dershowitz

During “Cash’s Dream,” the Shady Horns joined the stage while Oteil Burbridge really let it rip on his bass. Oteil guided the song to a really spacey place. Victor Cornette used the lights to enhance the mood and there it was, the pinnacle of the evening with Ryan Zoidis adding effects to his horn, bringing it that much higher. In the end, it was just one epic extended solo, each musicians playing off each other and feeling the family vibe super hard. People were jumping on their feet with both hands in the air. Just a full on Jam Session between friends and as we danced with our own friends in the audience, it was a great way to end a Friday night.  Thank you Soulive, Roosevelt, Marco, Oteil, Kofi, Sonya and all the amazing musicians that made last night another night for the books.

——————————-

Tonight, the last night of Bowlive V, you will get an array of surprise musicians playing a laundry list of amazing songs. That is just how it goes down on the finale night of a Bowlive run. 

——————————-

List of Special Guests and Openers

THURSDAY, MARCH 13 – Special Guests: NIGEL HALL, EDDIE ROBERTS, more TBA

FRIDAY, MARCH 14 – Special Guests: GEORGE PORTER JR. and SPECIAL GUESTS TBA
Opener: LEROY JUSTICE

SATURDAY, MARCH 15 – Special Guests: GEORGE PORTER JR. feat. a special #LONDONSOULIVE joint set
Opener: THE LONDON SOULS

TUESDAY, MARCH 18 – Special Guest: JOHN SCOFIELD
Opener and Special Guest: JON CLEARY

WEDNESAY, MARCH 19 – Special Guests: JOE RUSSO and SUSAN TEDESCHI
Opener & Special Guest: JON CLEARY

THURSDAY, MARCH 20 – Special Guest: DMC (of RUN DMC)
Opener: ALAN EVANS TRIO

FRIDAY, MARCH 21 – Special Guests: MARCO BENEVENTO, ROOSEVELT COLLIER, OTEIL and KOFI BURBRIDGE, FELIX PASTORIUS, and BRANDON NIEDERAUER
Opener: SONYA KITCHELL

SATURDAY, MARCH 22 – Special Guest: BILL EVANS,
Opener: WOLF! Featuring Scott Metzger

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As my fifth New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival gets closer, the anticipation gets stronger. This year is a little different- I have two friends coming to Jazz Fest on my say so, so I’m a little stressed, wanting to make sure they tell me what they want to hear, making sure they love it as much as I do. So in prepping for my favorite week of the year, here are some things you don’t want to miss:

At the fairgrounds:

Thursday, May 3rd

High School Gospel Choirs: I like to open my fest with the McMain Singing Mustangs – every year, these kids bring some serious firepower to the Gospel Tent.  McDonogh #35 High School also does some incredible stuff later in the afternoon.

New Orleans Music Legends: Bassist George Porter Jr. has probably played on your favorite album, whether with Tori Amos, David Byrne, being the bass line sampled for tons of hip hop classics, or with his own groundbreaking work with the legendary Meters. Do yourself a favor and see him. While you’re at it, check out piano virtuoso Henry Butler, and the boys and girl in Dumpstaphunk. All of em will make you wish you lived here and saw em more often.

Home Grown Up and Comers: I saw Mia Borders in a tiny club with a leaky roof on the lower east side last year and she was amazing. Probably got an awesome band with her, including NOLA saxman Khris Royal (who’s probably with George too), and her cover of Bill Wither‘s “Use Me” was just bananas last year.

2012 Fantasy Map

2012 Fantasy Map

Friday, May 4th

The One Woman Army, now with backup: Theresa Andersson is a tremendous singer, fiddle player, and all around musician. This year, she’s got a great krewe of musicians with her, including Hannah Krieger-Benson, a fantastic trumpet player and singer who’s doing her own stuff (Hannah KB Band) and some ska too (The Local Skank)

Pick your own Jazz Adventure:  Three amazing jazz sets happening right after Theresa, at the same time. I have no idea how I’ll do all three.  Big Chief Donald Harrison will be mixing his bebop and modern jazz skills with R&B and NOLA classics, ala the amazing cover of “Indian Red” he did for the Treme Season One Soundtrack.  Or, you can get your fill of low end saxophonics, with Roger Lewis (Dirty Dozen Brass Band) leading three Bari Saxes and a Bass Sax for Baritone Bliss (which was fantastic last year).  Or, you can see Preservation Hall trumpet man Mark Braud do his own thing in the Economy Hall tent.

Holy People: Bet on Mavis Staples, who was already among the top reasons we went with this weekend, to put on a ridiculous set at the gospel tent in honor of her friend (and ours), the late great Levon Helm.  I’m sure her set is going to be so great, I’ll probably miss Deacon John‘s killer cover of “Many Rivers to Cross” to get a spot. However, if I were you, I wouldn’t miss much else of his set.  Local music legend, a fantastic performer, a great singer, a helluva guitar player, just amazing stuff, see Deacon John.

Mahalia Jackson - Historic Jazz Fest Picture

Mahalia Jackson – Historic Jazz Fest Picture

Saturday May 5th

Family Preservation: Loads of famous families in the New Orleans tradition – on Saturday, the Brunious family represents in Economy Hall. A few hours before Mark Braud (nephew to the late John Brunious) takes the stage (and hopefully passes out some ice cream) with the
Preservation Hall Jazz Band, his other uncle (and brother to John) Wendell Brunious will step up to the stage- Wendell was on fire at BAM a couple weeks back, sitting in with Dr. John, so look for some tasty trumpet goodness all around.

Raisin’ Hell: Another scion of a famous musical family takes the Fais Do Do stage, Rockin Dopsie and his Zydeco Hellraisers.  I feel like a lot of my favorite Zydeco bands all seemed to be packed into first weekend, but Rockin Dopsie is a notable exception.

Local Greats to Look For: Anders Osborne is a beast on guitar, and his new album is a great mix of sweetness, of sadness, of blues and power.  Not sure who’s playing with them, but see it.  Paul Sanchez’s Rolling Road show is always packed with local stars, Joe Krown with Russell Batiste and Walter “Wolfman” Washington is a tight organ guitar drums trio that does it right. John Boutte‘s voice, which you may recognize from the theme song from Treme, is tremendous to hear in the Jazz Tent – he may spoil us with a great cover of Leonard Cohen‘s “Hallelujah”…if we’re lucky!

The Cafe du Monde stand between the Jazz and Blues tents, around 5:30pm.  Good time to hydrate and get some iced coffee.  Hard to see ending my Preservation Hall second line early, but gonna need to refuel. And what better place to do it? Herbie Hancock and his band in the Jazz Tent on your right, the Warren Haynes Band (with tinyrager.com faves Nigel Hall and Alecia Chakour, as well as Dr. John, playing out) on your left in the Blues Tent.

Jazzfest 1975 Historic Poster

Jazz Fest 1975 Historic Poster

Sunday, May 6th

Sunday is always the most packed day, the closing day of the festival.  Of course, I can tell you to park at Gentilly Stage all day, or don’t miss Galactic, but hopefully you already know.  Here are a few things you might not know about:

The Family that Prays Together: Remember that John Boutte guy from Saturday?  He’s bringin’ his whole family to the gospel tent. You should get there too.

Arieal

Arieal

Glen David Andrews: Cousin to Trombone Shorty and James Andrews, the fire-breathing trombone player’s got an incredible performance you don’t want to miss.  Why he’s not taking his rightful place closing down the Gospel tent is beyond me, but at least it makes the FOMS (Fear of Missing Something) to close the festival a bit easier.

Camping at the Jazz and Heritage Stage: I don’t know the higher heights, but every other group at the Jazz and Heritage stage is a smoker, starting with War Chief Juan, the TBC Brass Band, Los Hombres Calientes will be incredible (why not in the Jazz tent?), and

Big Chief Bo Dollis: It’s not clear if the Big Chief is going to make it, he’s fallen ill, so I expect the boys to rock it out hard for him even if he can’t make it.  Look for Brooklynite turned Orleanian Billy Iuso wrecking shop on guitar (if not here, with Anders on Saturday), he’s a force to be reckoned with.

Close out with the Hall: Okay, so you’ve got 8, count em, 8 amazing sets lined up to end your fest. My pick is Preservation Hall – they’re going to have a lot of friends on stage with them and it’s going to be a lot of fun.  Also, I have no idea why they put Sharon Jones in the Blues Tent when she’s going to want the crowd up and dancing.

The night shows are a whole other animal, coming for part 2…

Words by Guest Writer: Russ Agdern

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Marcus Miller Workshop @ Fairmont Le Montreux Palace, Montreux Jazz Festival

Fairmont LeMontreux Palace - GORGEOUS!!!

Fairmont LeMontreux Palace - GORGEOUS!!!

Right this way... (c) Josh Raskin

Right this way... (c) Josh Raskin

Walking up to the GORGEOUS Fairmont Le Montreux Palace, I couldn’t help but smile. This was my favorite structure along the entire lake. The yellow awnings and its ornate classical design were simply stunning amongst the green background of The Alps. No matter where you walked along the water, the striking building made itself known amongst the grey and less-colorful buildings.

I arrived (with Josh) in time to walk right in with Marcus Miller on my left.  He was clicking beats with his tongue softly, wearing his signature hat and a vest.  I smiled and said “Hi.” He nodded and smiled with his eyes.  He was genuine, I could feel it immediately.

Up the stairs to the left we went.....

Up the stairs to the left we went.....

As we entered the Hotel, we were directed up a grand staircase into an elegant space with pink and peach toned walls.  Cherubs and damsels carrying vines of flowers were carved into the grand windows and arches.  There were about 200+ chairs set up in front of a tall stage but they were all full of fans.

I got a bit sad at the thought of having to stand in the back but within a second Josh had grabbed me by the hand and seated us on the floor directly in front of the people seated in their comfortable wooden chairs.  Within a few seconds there were two rows of fans that followed suit.  (Shout out to my Front Row Hoes Posse!)

Marcus Miller walked on stage after a few minutes.  His drummer, Sean Rickman of Garaj Mahal, immediately went into it with funk. I was immediately reminded of Victor Wooten and my mind drifted to the Stanley Clark, Victor Wooten, Marcus Miller project called S.M.V.  I had forced Josh to listen to their CD just weeks earlier and it was a project Marcus would touch on later in the workshop.

After the rhythm duo finished playing there was some banter. Miller joked about how “this wasn’t a workshop but by the looks of things, it appeared to be a concert.”  The space was bursting and the unlucky late arrivals were spilling into the hallways.

Miller explained how “these workshops are for you, the audience, and the hungry learner. I could stand up here the whole time and play licks or I can field questions,” which were welcomed at that time.

One of the greatest parts of the entire experience was hearing how each question was fielded by someone from Germany, Austria, France, America, Jordan or Spain. Each questions yielded a different accent and I just found that part totally intoxicating on its own merit.

And here we go... (c) Josh Raskin

And here we go... (c) Josh Raskin

Question #1: “How do you decide to use a fretted or non-fretted bass?

The Fret Neck

The Fret Neck

Here is a little background info on frets:

The metal strips running across a guitars neck are called frets. Now, here’s what might be confusing: the word has two different meanings when used by guitarists. It can be used to describe:

1. The actual piece of metal wire

2. The space between the metal strips

Both of these are referred to as frets by guitarists. The space between the frets or metal wires is the place where you should put your finger to make notes. You do not put your fingers directly on the metal strips. So, the area of the neck between the nut and the first strip of metal is referred to as the first fret. The area on the neck between the first and second strip of metal is referred to as the second fret, etc…

Miller explained about frets and how they help one stay in tune. “When you don’t use frets, it’s like you are playing a violin or cello.  Without the frets, you can use vibration to create a singing quality which I love because of the more natural sound that is made.”

Marcus Miller Workshop (c) Josh Raskin

Marcus Miller Workshop (c) Josh Raskin

Question #2: “Are you doing a tour with this show?

“Yes, 9 shows.  Not a lot but it’s really very special to honor the 20 years since Miles Davis’s death.

Miller spoke of producing Miles’s album TuTu Revisited and how he really didn’t know if he wanted to jump right back into a Miles Davis session for another couple of years. However, the 20th anniversary of his death is so special and so Miller took his idea to Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter and vowed that if they wouldn’t be part of the project then it wasn’t meant to be.  The two jazz legends were immediately on board and so the project came to life.

[Some shouts out about “TUTU” being a choice on the set list]

As we were creating the show, we thought, let’s finish with something everybody knows and then we can go to the Blah, Blah, Blah part which allows for so much space within  the notes of the song.

Miller then went on to explain that on their set list for the show written below each song was “Blah, Blah, Blah.” He spoke about how they didn’t want to do the songs the same and it was when they began to have fun with the songs that the “Blah, Blah, Blah” would happen. It was the “Blah, Blah, Blah” that made this experience its own and where the beauty in the performance was meant to show itself.  So, during each song, the group would go off into “Blah, Blah, Blah” and that was when the magic happened.

Another song like that is Wayne Shorter’s “Footprints” Breaks into “Footprints”

Marcus Miller Workshop (c) Josh Raskin

Marcus Miller Workshop (c) Josh Raskin

Question #3: “Who were a few of your influences growing up?

This was Josh’s question and it provided for great content for this article!

I grew up in the 70s, the golden years of bass playing. I had musicians in my head like Larry Graham, who taught us the importance of the E-string.

With that, Miller broke into Sly and The Family Stone‘s “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again)”.

Before Larry Graham, there was James Jameson, a Mowtown session artist who played on so many tracks that you might recognize.

With that Miller broke into The Temptations‘s “My Girl” Here is Jameson’s bass line:

James Jameson was a very inventive man and yet he could keep it really simple and make a statement.

Then he broke into The Jackson 5’s “I’ll Want You Back.” Here is the bass line:

Then I got into Jazz with the acoustic bass players like Paul Chambers and Ron Carter.

With that, Miller broke into “So What” from Miles Davis’s Kind Of Blue CD. The intro for this song is something that Paul Chambers is extremely famous for! Listen to the intro here:

When Stanley Clark came on the scene, I was so excited.  He was the first one that made the bass an instrument that was allowed to be in the front of the stage.  As a bass player, to see that was liberating.  Jaco Pastorious was a continuation…

And then one day, I stopped listening to everything.  I was in high school and my roommate told me to stop listening because I had to find my own voice, my own style.  We needed to get rid of the negative of not having our own style.  I really respected this guy and so I stopped listening.

Now, it’s very difficult to stop listening to your heroes when you are a young person. After a few years, I felt I developed a personality.  Then Miles Davis called and said ‘Be at such-and-such studio in 1 hour,’ and he hung up.

So, I ran to the studio and during that session, I really tried to find my own voice.  I didn’t want to walk away without leaving my own signature.  I didn’t want people, years from now, looking back and saying, ‘Hey, you sounded like [insert name of famous bass player here] during this track.’  I wanted my OWN voice.  It was during that Miles session that I feel as though I found my own sound. I didn’t know if I liked it, but it was all mine.”

Miller breaks into “Power of Soul” by Jimmy Hendrix, the reflection of his bass was shining on the walls and off the faces of the multiples smiles in the room.

Question #4:  “I would like to know why you chose and how you developed ‘Time After Time’ for this tour.

“Miles was playing [Time After Time] towards the end of his life.  He was always seeing the beauty in songs that other artists were unable to see.  He would choose songs you never thought he’d play like the Broadway tune “If I Were a Bell.” He’d show you the beauty in the songs other thought were cheesy.”

Flowers at the Reception Desk... (c) Josh Raskin

Flowers at the Reception Desk... (c) Josh Raskin

Marcus produced the Miles Davis Tribute and how he thought by choosing Time After Time he could explain that concept of finding the “beauty in the cheese” musically.

We needed to expect the unexpected. During rehearsals, Wayne Shorter would suggest taking the song to a C-Sharp, something none of us would have ever thought of.  When they did it, it was like the sun came out.  It just evolved…

He then somehow got to speaking about his discovering Samba and how hard it is to discover new music these days.  He spoke about record stores and radio stations the beauty they used to entail.

“Remember old record stores?  The owners were true music lovers.  I used to frequent the type of stores where you would walk into the store and just ask, “what ‘cha got?” The owner would put on the latest find and many times we would walk out with as many as we could afford. It was the same with radio DJs. They used to play what they loved. They were the ones who were discovering music back then.  It’s very hard today.

People call musicians masters. When I think of masters I think of athletes. I do not believe that musicians can master music. That is not something that can be achieved as a musician. As a musician, you are constantly evolving, constantly learning, constantly absorbing. I like to refer to them as endless searchers.  Wayne Shorter is an endless searcher, always finding new things.

Marcus Miller Workshop (c) Josh Raskin

Marcus Miller Workshop (c) Josh Raskin

Question #5:  “How do you find your personality? How much technique vs. feelings is needed?

Miller answered with the greatest answers ever delivered after this question.

You are not allowed to choose,” he said. “When you need it, you can reach for your technique and it’s great to have that.  However, you need your feeling all the time.  Best is when you have the head and the heart working together.

Miller then breaks into The Staple Singers‘s “I’ll Take You There.” Just listen to that bass line:

I come from an R&B background and it makes you have to stay doing the same thing over and over again in a song.  But I try to add something that makes it different.

He proceeded to play the bass line of “I’ll Take You There” in its simplest form.  And then as he continued to play the measures repeatedly, he would throw in a few extra notes and colored outside the lines of the measures.

Marcus Miller Workshop (c) Josh Raskin

Marcus Miller Workshop (c) Josh Raskin

Question #6: “How did you choose the two Seans?

Just so you know both of their middle names are Christopher. These are things that happen when you have Wayne Shorter involved in a project. Sean Christopher Jones was on TuTu Revisited and Sean Christopher Rickman had a video on Youtube that I showed Herbie [Hancock] and Wayne [Shorter].

Here is the video that got Sean Rickman the job, his work with Dapp Theory at Montreux in 2003:

Question #7: “Over the past 20 years, I have heard Quincey Jones state that the electric bass changed live music. Please explain.

Before the electric bass, live performances didn’t have the low-end because you couldn’t mic an electric bass properly enough to fill the low end sound.  The electric bass allowed for Rock N Roll to develop and evolve and for the music to be FULL.  [Plugging in] changes the music and makes you play differently. Take it from me; I know how it feels to not be heard while playing vs. hitting one note and changing the entire landscape. The art of amplification is what truly changed live music.  Once the bass was properly amplified.

Question #8: “Will you be producing a CD from this tour?

Perhaps. We have had 9 shows and we have recorded all the shows with great outcome. Perhaps I can get everyone on board so we can pull together a DVD.

Marcus Miller Workshop (c) Josh Raskin

Marcus Miller Workshop (c) Josh Raskin

Question #9: In a thick German accent: “Back in your youth, you were part of slapping competitions in school and it helped you with the ladies.  Can you please show us some good slapping to get girls?

Everyone broke into laughter, including Miller who then spoke of Thunder Claps and competitions and how “you only want to do competitions when you are young.

Miller ended the set playing Larry Graham‘s “The Jam”.  One of our FAVORITE songs. One of the greatest bass lines to open a song EVER!!! Here is Larry performing it:

And now with Marcus Miller:

“The Jam” a song that we would hear so many times over the next four days I would wager that “The Jam” was, by far, the most played song at the festival.

~~~

The workshop ended with Miller walking off the stage into a puddle of fans wanting to just pass him a smile, shake his hand or just be in his presence! I had enjoyed my tiny moment with him walking in and so I went to find Josh who had skirted around the venue trying to take pictures with his fancy camera.  The staff was constantly asking others to shut off their cameras.  Thank God Josh is sneaky because we wouldn’t have had much visual content for this article!  🙂

Turns out, Josh had found himself just on the other side of the wall in the room where they would eventually bring Miller seconds after he got off stage. When Josh saw him, he said: “Marcus, when you spoke of attending a performing arts school in NYC did you mean La Guardia High School?”

Miller: “Yes, you live there?

Josh:  “Yes, I teach in a middle school that tests the most students into La Guardia.

Miller: “Where do you teach?

Josh: “Booker T. Washington Middle School.

Miller:  “NO WAY! I know that school…

And so it continued for a few more minutes of talking school, music and Manhattan.  My lucky Josh had gotten the final interview of the session even though Marcus Miller had ended up getting in the last question!  🙂

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Note from the Editor: You are encouraged to read The Montreux Jazz Festival posts in order as they all contain information that pours meaning into the following posts:  Click here for  My Behind The Scene Tour and Overview of The Montreux Jazz Festival **

Miles Davis Tribute @ Montreux Jazz Festival

Even though the Montreux Jazz Festival had been raging for over two weeks, The Miles Davis Tribute was the first show of the festival for Josh and I, having just arrived in Montreux, Switzerland by way of Paris, France earlier that morning.

View from looking left out to lake Geneva or Lake LeMan

View from walk to Auditorium, while walking and looking left out to Lake Geneva aka Lake LeMan

This would be a very special performance for us and other Americans who were attending because this show was not making its way to the United States.   Sad but true, which made this a very special performance for jazz heads like Josh and I.

We walked from our hotel to the gorgeous Auditorium Stravinsky, about a 15 minute walk along the gorgeous Lake Geneva, or Lake Léman as the Swiss prefer to call it. You can read more about this gorgeous auditorium and its amazing acoustical design in my previous post titled My Behind The Scene Tour and Overview of The Montreux Jazz Festival!

Having been blessed with a amazing VIP package from the wonderful Sloane Family earlier in the year, we were so excited and didn’t know what to expect! We had already been greeted upon arrival to our hotel by a Festival representative and been given a goodie bag full of Mac Cosmetics, two festival tee-shirts, a dual-disc sampler CD, Missoni pamphlets and more.

View of festival sidewalk heading up to Auditorium Stravinsky at night!

Night view of festival sidewalk heading up to Auditorium Stravinsky, which is to the left of the white tent! The Lake is located behind me at this view.

We found our way to the Protocole’ Office where a most gracious staff took care of us.  Vivian, Josephine and Helena were beyond wonderful!!  Thank you ladies for your patience, giving us the best of care, making sure we weren’t kicked out of our booth by the stars and reminding us how hospitality should be handled.  New Yorkers need to recognize!  The hospitality in Switzerland is absolutely unmatchable.

We were given two slips of thick paper and orange wrist bands that served as entry to the box seats. We were shown the way to the top of the venue, led down a little hallway and placed into Box #4.  My magic number 🙂  There were only six boxes total as far as our floor was concerned. If they had more, I never knew about them or saw them.

Raging the Box Seat Shot!

Happy Box Seat Ragers!!

The below picture shows the stage from the left side box view.  We were just the mirror image, same spot but our box was situated to the right of the stage. It was a phenomenal view of the show, albeit far away.  There would be no front row raging during these performances.

Auditorium Stravinski

Auditorium Stravinski

The show was slated to begin at 8pm but we all know what that means.  Finally around 8:45pm, beginning fashionably late (pun intended and you’ll see why later), Claude “Funky Claude” Nobs, the fonder and general manager of The Festival, and a few staff members came out on stage to press festival merchandise. Claude led the pack, wearing multiple shirts, stripping away a layer at a time then throwing the shirts into the audience. Then came the introductions via Funky Claude.

The Miles Davis Tribute @ The Montreux Jazz Festival

The Miles Davis Tribute @ The Montreux Jazz Festival (C) Lionel Flusin

Miles Davis Tribute produced by Marcus Miller

Herbie Hancock – Keys
Wayne Shorter – Saxophone
Marcus Miller – Bass
Sean Christopher Rickman – Drums
Sean Christopher Jones – Trumpet

Pianist and composer Herbie Hancock, saxophonist Wayne Shorter and bassist Marcus Miller are all alums of the school of Miles Davis, having all had the pleasure of playing with Davis before he passed.  The jazz great, whose statue stands proudly in a park next to Miles Davis Hall, performed 10 times at Montreux, the last time just two months before his death at age 65 in 1991.

Claude welcomes Marcus Miller (C) Lionel Flusin 2

Claude welcomes Marcus Miller (C) Lionel Flusin

Marcus Miller was introduced and came out in an all white suit and his signature black hat.  Herbie Hancock was introduced and came out rocking a MEGA Cosby Sweater to which Claude commented on how he liked it. Well, of course he did.  Claude Nobs only wears Missioni!  Yall know the “interesting” $1,000+ designs that looks like ugly sweater patterns? It’s my least favorite store on Madison Avenue and here is this dude who only wears that brand. He rocked every piece 🙂  It was made for Claude and all his fabulousness and, to be honest, I grew to like a few items during my trip.  Wayne Shorter was next and in the tradition of Davis, the trio has brought in two young musicians to work with them, trumpeter Sean Jones and the drummer Sean Rickman.

Sean Jones during The Miles Davis Tribute @ The Montreux Jazz Festival

Sean Jones during The Miles Davis Tribute @ The Montreux Jazz Festival

The two-hour concert, which stretched into the early hours of Thursday, was a highlight of the 45th annual Montreux Jazz Festival, “where Davis is still remembered for driving along Lake Geneva in a red Ferrari.”

Set List

Walkin’
Little One
Milestones
All Blues
Directions
It’s About That Time
Water Babies
Someday My Prince Will Come
Footprints
Put Your Little Foot Forward
Jean Pierre
Orbits
Dr Jeckyll

(encore)

Tutu
Time After Time

Marcus Miller (C) Lionel Flusin

Marcus Miller (C) Lionel Flusin

The five piece ensemble opened with “Walkin,” the title track of Miles Davis‘s 1954 album.  Herbie Hancock started the song out slowly, following through alternating from his piano and keyboards.  During his solo, his face made the deepest of connections with the notes and you could see it in the way he contorted his mouth and eyes with feeling.  There was gorgeous mournful trumpet and saxophone exchange between Sean Jones and Wayne Shorter respectively and then the “Blah, Blah, Blah” happened through “Little Ones” and “Milestones.”

During the Marcus Miller workshop the following day, a question was asked about the set list and how it was formed.  Miller spoke about how they picked the song, (which I will speak of fully in the Marcus Miller Workshop Post to follow this one next week).

He spoke about how they didn’t want to do the songs the same and it was when they began to have fun with the songs that the “Blah, Blah, Blah” would happen. It was the “Blah, Blah, Blah” that made this experience its own and where the beauty in the performance was meant to show itself.  So, during each song, the group would go off into “Blah, Blah, Blah” and that was when the magic happened.

Marcus Miller raged an amazing electric bass solo during “All Blues” as he curled his fingers into the strings, creating a gorgeous texture of sound. There was no guitar on stage, yet it was so tight, so jazzy and so full of notes and excitement that it filled the auditorium fully. During the “Blah,Blah, Blah” towards the end, Miller changed to a saxophone-looking instrument that layered a deep tone under the rest of the group.

Sean Jones and Wayne Shorter (C) Lionel Flusin

Sean Jones and Wayne Shorter (C) Lionel Flusin

During a swanky “Directions,” I notice movement in the box to my left.  I see Esperanza Spalding being sat down on the second row with a few of her people. At first, I didn’t think it was her but then who else rocks hair like that?  It took all my power not to geek out.  She is a musical goddess and we would be enjoying her performance only a few hours later for the Quincy Jones’s Global Gumbo, (another post that will be following this one shortly).

“Someday My Prince Will Come,” from the 1961 album recorded with John Coltrane, was beautiful.  This is one of my all time favorite songs.  A gorgeous song from Disney’s 1937’s Classic Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs, it’s impossible not to feel something as a female while listening to this song.  My eyes immediately welled up and I know I was not alone in this emotional stirring of the soul.

Sean Rickman (C) Lionel Flusin

Sean Rickman (C) Lionel Flusin

Marcus Miller started off with a slow bass solo then Sean Rickman and Herbie Hancock took over the stage. I had never seen Rickman or so I thought.  He is actually the drummer from Garaj Mahal, a group I have not been able to see in a long time.  He caught my ear. Most of the time drummers are not the artists who catch my ears in a project like this.  He was superb and he looked to be having so much fun up there as his smile never once dropped, nor did his beat.

Then, a nice informative break in the show as Wayne Shorter engaged the audience with how the super group decided to approach this tribute.

Wayne Shorter during The Miles Davis Tribute @ The Montreux Jazz Festival

Wayne Shorter during The Miles Davis Tribute @ The Montreux Jazz Festival

During their first rehearsal, the five men did nothing but talk about how best to honor Miles’s spirit. They didn’t play a single note during the entire first rehearsal.  Miller would later say in his Workshop that during that time of revelation, they would try to outdo each other by seeing who could come up with the most obscure Miles tunes.  It was during this time, during this first rehearsal, that Miller said they became a band, before a single note was ever played between them.

“In preparing for these concerts,” Mr. Hancock said, “we had many conversations about the interests of Miles outside of music like boxing and cooking. He was arguably a master chef. It adds more dimensions to him. We’ll embrace his spirit by being in the moment and creating a new perspective, sometimes on known themes.”


While putting together their set list, the one thing the group didn’t want to do was “play in the style in which it was originally done because we figured Miles would hate that.” Miles was a man who always looks forward and so as they looked back at his music to play they knew that Miles would have wanted them to look forward, taking his music to new levels.

Let’s make it like a soundtrack to Miles’s life’!” “It doesn’t feel like 20 years, it feels like 4 or 5. Miles’s music is everywhere. This is dedicated to the spirit of Miles Davis, the most beautiful thing he gave us.” ~ Marcus Miller

They spoke on how they felt Miles had only been dead 4 or 5 years, not the 20 years  that we were celebrating tonight.  They felt, and I agree, that this was because of the fact that Miles’s music is still so very relevant today and the lingering spirit that resides in all the artists who played with him keep his spirit flowing through the scene and through the music.

Sean Jones (C) Lionel Flusin

Sean Jones (C) Lionel Flusin

Breaking into “Footprints,” Wayne Shorter related to the audience that this portion of the show would represent Miles’s childhood.   The songs were playful which made sense and the “Blah, Blah, Blah of this song became funky as the bass and horns led the pack.  During the song, Hancock transformed his keyboards into human noises, each key making a different sound consisting of hoots and hollers sound bites from James Brown that said “Come on,” “Groove,” “Yeah,” and cat calls and yelps. The “Blah, Blah, Blah” had taken over.

There was another song thrown in to the mix here that I just couldn’t get the name of.  Sean Rickman would later tell me:

“After ‘Footprints’ we play[ed] a swing tune that represented Miles’ “childhood”. I forgot the name of that tune. Then we did Jean Pierre.”

Marcus put down the electric bass and moved to the standup for “Jean Pierre” which changed the entire scenery of the sound in the room, almost big band-y.  I knew it was a song from later in Miles’s day.  If I could only remember the name.  The trumpets led the band during and the “Blah, Blah, Blah” of this song went on for minutes and ended in a standing ovation of the crowd.

Herbie Hancock (C) Lionel Flusin

Herbie Hancock (C) Lionel Flusin

Being on the big stage for this 5 piece band was perfect. The artists on stage lined up for a bow and it was tearful moment for me.  The music had been overwhelmingly different from anything I had expected to hear that night. I don’t think I have experienced such a tight and wonderful jazz performance.  The legends on that stage, the fact that it wasn’t being played in America, my appreciation for the moment, my appreciation for Miles; it brought tears to my eyes.

I wasn’t the only one who felt this way. The entire crowd was standing in ovation with respect for the super group who had just played the “Blah, Blah, Blah” out of the music! Taking the music to an entirely new level and doing EXACTLY what they had planned.  After the ovation, Hancock strapped on a synthesizer keyboard for the first encore: “TuTu.”

Marcus Miller @ Montreux Jazz Festival

Marcus Miller @ Montreux Jazz Festival

Hancock and Miller had fun during this tune, walking towards each other in the middle of the stage and Hancock bantered musically with each musician.  Each one playing a rip and Hancock coming back with his handheld. When it was Shorter’s turn, he blasted out a single note, laughter again erupted into the audience. All Wayne Shorter needs to play is a single note.  So amazing.

Once again, they maneuvered to getting off the stage but this time they were stopped by Claude Nops, who requested another song.  This time, the song that took us all by surprise, “Time After Time,” a song made famous by Cyndi Lauper in the 80’s, was played.

Marcus Miller was back on his deep saxophone and created a totally wormy sound from the instrument to take “Time after Time” to a different place.  Without Hancock playing the melody shortly after, one might not have recognized the song. I recognized it immediately. There was even a Star Wars tease from Shorter on his saxophone in there if you caught it.  Completely playful and unique.

Later, during his workshop, Marcus Miller would speak about how Miles Davis could take a super cheesy song or a song that most musicians might view as cheesy and find the beauty in it.  This was one of those songs.  Miller felt that ending with a song that Miles Davis revamped was a perfect ending to this tribute, showing us how he could be the master of anything.

“Marcus produced a great concert,” said Claude Nobs, founder of the Swiss festival now in its 45th year.

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Tiny Rager with Questlove, Christian McBride and Gary Bartz. SO HAPPY!!!

Tiny Rager with Questlove, Christian McBride and Gary Bartz. SO HAPPY!!!

Questlove Presents Mo’ Meta Blues I ft. Booker T, Eric Krasno, Gary Bartz, Charistian McBride & Nigel Hall @ The Blue Note (06.21.11)

Questlove – Drums
Eric Kranso – Guitar
Booker T. Jones – Organ
Gary Bartz – Saxophone
Christian McBride – Bass

Surprise Guest:
Dee Dee Bridgewater – Vocals
Nigel Hall – Vocals

The Blue Note Venue Front

The Blue Note Venue Front

The Blue Note is a venue name that is known around the world for housing some of the world’s most famous jazz musicians in it’s various Milan, Tokyo, NYC and Nagoya locations.  For true NY music goers, we aren’t always fond of this venue but no one can deny that some of our city’s greatest music is made inside that sardine-packed tourist trap.

For 30 years, The Blue Note has brought us some of the most phenomenal music played by phenomenal collections of musicians.  This year, to celebrate their 30 years dedicated to music, The Blue Note, along with Jill Newman Productions, has put together a month long calendar of music around the city, creating the inaugural Blue Note Jazz Festival.

Over the past month The Festival has featured numerous high-profile acts within the walls of the Blue Note  such as Dave Brubeck, Chris Botti, Nancy Wilson, Bobby McFerrin, Roberta Flack, Brian Wilson, Medeski Martin & Wood, El Gran Combo, McCoy Tyner, Bill Frisell, Meshell Ndegeocello, Madeleine Peyroux, Chaka Khan, and many more. As well, numerous acts have been held around the city’s various outdoor spaces such as Parks and other music venues.

Questlove @ The Blue Note (Photo by Dino Perrucci)

Questlove @ The Blue Note (Photo by Dino Perrucci)

For two nights, famed drummer Questlove hosted Mo’ Meta Blues 1  featuring a collection of amazing jazz virtuoso musicians to include guitarist Eric Kranso and bassist Christian McBride.  The group was completed with legendary saxophonist Gary Bartz and Rock N’ Roll Hall of Famer organist Booker T. Jones (Booker T and the MG’s).

I was terribly excited for a performance mixing the old school with the new school.  It is performances like these were I wish there were more youth in the audience. More young musicians who have deliberately sought out the best in the scene; sitting in the audience watching how it’s done.  Looking around, I couldn’t help but wonder how in a city like NYC, there were not more musical savvy teenagers. Where is the disconnect? Is it because our music isn’t on the radio? Just something I always ponder while sitting waiting for shows to begin.

Booker T Jones latest Cd: The Road From Memphis

Booker T Jones latest Cd: The Road From Memphis

Tonight’s musicians would be performing a selection of songs from Booker T’s new album, The Road From Memphis, a wonderful collection of songs with collaborations with Yim Yames of My Morning Jacket, Sharon Jones and Lou Reed and The National’s Matt Berninger.  Produced by Jones with The Roots’ ?uestlove and Rob Schnapf (Beck, Elliot Smith), Memphis was recorded by Daptone Records mastermind Gabriel Roth with backing by The Roots.  Enjoy Booker T’s video for his cover of Lauryn Hill‘s “Everything is Everything.”

The new school rhythm section alone could have kept my attention for both sets. Questlove has been drumming since he was a little boy on tour with his famous 50’s doo wop father, Lee Andrews of Lee Andrews & the HeartsQuestlove is best known as the drummer for the Grammy Award-winning band The Roots, which is now the in-house band for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

Christian McBride, Questlove‘s high school homie, is considered a virtuoso bass player and is one of the most recorded bassists of the last 20 years. He has performed and recorded with a massive number of artists, jazz legends and ensembles including Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, Diana Krall, Roy Haynes, Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Wynton Marsalis, Hank Jones, Joshua Redman, as well as with hip-hop, pop, soul, and classical musicians like The Roots, Kathleen Battle, Carly Simon, Sting, Bruce Hornsby, and James Brown. His sound is liberating and intoxicating.

“Half the fun up here is the fun music trivia we all have and finding the fun in referencing it in the music we play up here.  I am just warning you all now, there will be a lot of inside musical jokes on this stage.” ~ Questlove

Booker T Jones @ The Blue Note (Photo by Dino Perrucci)

Booker T Jones @ The Blue Note (Photo by Dino Perrucci)

Then you had Booker T. Jones from Booker T and the MGs.  Booker T. & the MG’s were the house band for the famous Memphis Soul music label Stax Records.  They recorded with all the Stax Records artists, including Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, and Isaac Hayes, but they also recorded their own material between sessions.  The song they are most famous for is Green Onions, a song they played every set during this run. My favorite and earliest memory of hearing this song can be seen right here:

All the Blue Note sets had the same set lists, in varying order:

  1. Down In Memphis ( Booker T on vocal, #5 on disc)
  2. Rent Party (#7 on disc)
  3. Walking Papers (#1 on disc)
  4. Everything is Everything (#6 on disc)
  5. Hip Hugger (Old Booker T Song)
  6. Gentle Smiles (Gary Bartz Tune)
  7. Born Under A Bad Sign (William Bell cover)
  8. Can’t Find Love
  9. Green Onions
  10. Melting Pot
Look at Those Happy Faces @ Blue Note (Photo by TinyRager)

Look at Those Happy Faces @ Blue Note (Photo by TinyRager)

Both nights, Questlove was the first to enter on stage.  He sat at his drum kit and announced each artist individually as they waited patiently at the top of the stairs. Questlove‘s sense of humor came out immediately.  “Please welcome Mr. Eric Kras-NOW,” as he emphasized the last part with a huge smile. “Please welcome Mr. Gary “Blow Your Horn” Bartz!” And so it continued till each member was on stage and the show could begin.

Down In Memphis ( Booker T on vocal, #5 on disc)
Rent Party (#7 on disc)

They stated the set with Down In Memphis with Booker T. on vocals.   His signature plunking Organ keys sounding just like I remembered.  Rent Party followed with Eric Kranso taking the lead on the solo. During the song, Kranso took the guitar licks and changed them up slightly, causing a jubilant stir from Booker T. and QuestloveBooker T. could be caught glancing at Kranso with looks of interest and obvious delight as Kranso took the song to level Booker T. probably wished was on his new cd.

Eric Krasno @ The Blue Note (Photo by Dino Perrucci)

Eric Krasno @ The Blue Note (Photo by Dino Perrucci)

Walking Papers (#1 on disc)

“The next song selection and what not is…You know we gotta be classy, this is the Blue Note after all!  The next song selection and shit …..” ~ Questlove as the venue erupted in laughter. Probably the one and only time I will hear cursing on the stage of the Blue Note from time to come.

The third selection was Walking Papers. Questlove described the song titles as “the papers that your angry wife gives you.” The song broke into a funky beat and my friend and I all complained about being forced to sit through this danceable set.

Whole Group @ Blue Note (Photo by TinyRager)

Whole Group @ Blue Note (Photo by TinyRager)

Everything is Everything (#6 on disc)

Booker T.‘s cover of Lauryn Hill‘s Everything is Everything followed. This song should have been sung by Nigel Hall who was waiting in the rafters during the first set while this song played but was sitting at our table for the second.  However, Booker T. played the vocals on his organ. No words. Personally, I feel that it is the words of this song that make it powerful and I loved how this elder artist was playing the younger tunes but it was general consensus around my table that it should be sung, not played.  Watching Gary Bartz, I wondered when he learned the song and how long it took him to learn it.  Did he really like it?  On the new cd, Booker T. also covers Gnarls Barkley‘s Crazy.

Hip Hugger (Old Booker T Song)

The best thing about being on this stage the past few days has been our ability to vicariously feel like we are in each others bands. We all have so much respect for each others bands and projects. This next tune will make us honorary MGs”  ~ Questlove introducing HipHugger.

As they segued into HipHugger, Christian McBride took the lead.  He shot out the gate with his solos on this song each set. His smile infectious, his playing addicting.

Gary Bartz @ The Blue Note (Photo by Dino Perrucci)

Gary Bartz @ The Blue Note (Photo by Dino Perrucci)

Gentle Smiles (Gary Bartz Tune)

At this point I should tell yall a little something about the magnificent Gary Bartz as he was the reason this show was even taking place!! When Jill Newman approached Questlove with the list of musicians that might want to take part in this project, Gary Bartz‘s name was what stopped him.

Gary Bartz is a Grammy winning alto saxophone player who first touched down on ears in the mid 60’s.  He played with epic jazz musicians like Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Charles Mingus’ Workshop and McCoy Tyner before even reaching the 70’s.  His music became influential amongst many genres and soon Gary’s music hit Questlove‘s ears as he followed the rise of hip-hop.

If you were a fan of hip-hop in 1991 then you might have known of a song called Gentle Smiles but might not have known it was a Bartz original.  A Tribe Called Quest famously used this sample for their song Butter on the “The Low End Theory” 1991 album. Everyone knows that album, or rather they should. Questlove dropped some serious licks while playing this song, probably having played it in his head over and over for years coming up in the scene.  It was a slow, downright sexy rage.

Gary Bartz’s Gentle Smiles:

A Tribe Called Quest’s Butter, sampling the song:

Nigel Hall @ The Blue Note (Photo by Dino Perrucci)

Nigel Hall @ The Blue Note (Photo by Dino Perrucci)

“And now I’d like to introduce you to the last member of our clan. A person who has his graduate degree in soul walking and Jamesology.  I’ve given him new monikers each set. I need help giving him one for this set,” said Questlove as he looked at the rest of his band. Nigel Hall was introduced by Questlove last night as Nigel Baptiste, Nigel Cosby was his name for tonight’s first set and Norman Huckstable Hall was thrown out this time by Christian McBride.

This was Nigel Hall‘s first paid performance at the Blue Note. As we stood at the top of the stairs and chatted he was wringing his hands and seemed slightly nervous.  So endearing.

Celestial Blues (Gary Bartz Tune)

As Nigel Hall began his next song he spoke of the Maine State Slogan being “They Way Life Should Be” and how the song he was about to sing is more tactical version of that statement.  “so meditate and contemplate”  Gary Bartz raged thru his solo.  Gary Bartz is the reason Questlove went after this gig.  When Jill Newman,  the lady who helped fund the Blue Note Jazz Festival, read Questlove the list of musicians who were interested in the super jam…this is the name that solidified the deal.

Whole Group raging The Blue Note (Photo by Dino Perrucci)

Whole Group raging The Blue Note (Photo by Dino Perrucci)

Born Under A Bad Sign (William Bell cover)

There was more banter and The Temptations Get Ready was teased by the rhythm section, another inside musical joke. Nigel Hall went on to sing Born Under A Bad SignNigel went off in the song, getting lost in his own voice. We got lost as well.  Having been part of The Warren Haynes Band for a few months, Nigel Hall has fused this song to his blood line.  And as always, I heard people asking “who was this guy,” questioning with the biggest smiles possible!!!   The night before, I was unlucky enough to miss Dee Dee Bridgewater, who came out in the second set to join Nigel on this song.  Amazing.

“Let’s give fun a round of applause ~ Questlove

Got To Get Some > Cant’ Find Love

As they began to play the next tune Got To Get Some, Questlove stopped and I think might have broken something as he said “well, they are gonna charge me five bucks for that! ” Nigel responds, “Sounds alright.  So long as its tight, its alright.” Nigel sang soulfully through Got To Get Some and Cant’ Find Love.

Whole Group w/ Nigel @ Blue Note (Photo by TinyRager)

Whole Group w/ Nigel @ Blue Note (Photo by TinyRager)

Green Onions & Melting Pot (Booker T Covers)

Nigel Hall bounced off the stage as the remaining group broke into Green Onions.  Christian McBride is such an amazing bassist as he kicked his bass so deep during this song.  Seeing this song performed live was truly special.  With these musicians, who were having so much fun on stage, they brought the song to life and I have to admit that it was one of my fav parts of the set. Just hearing the opening immediately made me smile. It’s impossible not to love this song.

The super group ended their exciting set with Booker T’s Melting Pot from his 1971 studio album.  Here is the studio version of the song. There were certainly to many restrictions on picture and video taking at The Blue Not like always.

When super groups like this gather, it’s always a shame to miss the magic. I hope this brought you into the moment, if only a little bit!

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Chick Corea, Eddie Gomez, Paul Motian, and Sp. Guest John Scofield @ The Blue Note (05.12.10)

The Blue Note, NYC

The Blue Note, NYC

I was completely FREAKING OUT!  110% shaking like a leaf with excitement.  My friend was standing next to me just kinda staring at me.  It was physically noticeable.  With a genuinely concerned look, she asks me if I am OK.  Honestly, I might as well been on 100 Five-Hour Energy Shots and crack.  I was on the verge of hyperventilating.  That is how ridiculously excited I was.

Chick Corea took The Blue Note by storm for two weeks, from May 4-9 and May 11-16.  Playing with a brand new project featuring Eddie Gomez on bass & Paul Motian on drums, Chick celebrated the lesser known works of Bill Evans, the project simply called Further Explorations of Bill Evans.

Bill Evans

Bill Evans

For those of you who need some schooling, Bill Evans was a famous, FAMOUS Jazz Pianist/Composer/Arranger who…

“influenced a generation of pianists including: Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, John Taylor, Steve Kuhn, Don Friedman, Denny Zeitlin, Bobo Stenson, Michel Petrucciani and Keith Jarrett, as well as guitarists Lenny Breau, Ralph Towner and Pat Metheny.” ~Wikipedia~

In 1958, Bill Evans was a pianist in Miles Davis’ group.  Can you imagine?  I know Chick Corea and John Scofield certainly can.  Evans influence ran so deep with Miles, his talent so respected, that he wrote the liner notes for Miles Davis’ classic Kind of Blues; the best selling jazz album of all time.

Tonight, I got my chance to see two of my biggest musical heroes celebrating one of their musical heroes.  I found that exhilarating.  Of the 12 days Chick Corea played at The Blue Note,  I chose tonight specifically because John Scofield would be the special guest and I was geekin’ out.  Tonight’s Line Up:

FEATURING:
Chick Corea, piano
Eddie Gomez, bass
Paul Motian, drums
w/ sp. guest: John Scofield, guitar

The Blue Note

The Blue Note

At 69 years old, Chick Corea is still going strong.  Having become a fan of his music through my love of Fusion Jazz, Chick Corea has been on my radar for many, many years.  Most of you should recall Return to Forever, with it’s classic lineup of Stanley Clarke on bass, Al Di Meola on Guitar and Lenny White on drums.  If you haven’t heard of Return to Forever, you might want to stop reading and go check it out.  Seriously, get away from this article and go listen to the music instead of reading about it.  I don’t mind.

For weeks prior to his two week stint, Chick Corea was offering up free tickets to each of his shows through Twitter and via e-mail.  I entered twice a day, every day allowed, but alas, it looked as if I was doomed to pay the $65 for a table or $40 to stand at the bar.  Not a big fan of The Blue Note for these high prices but in this case, I would spend my savings account to see Chick and John play together in this intimate setting.  I mean, it was one of the world’s most famous jazz clubs, how could I complain?!

Stage Sign

Stage Sign with Eddie's bass below

The plan was to get there early and see if we could get a seat at the bar ($40) vs. getting a table ($65) plus a $5 minimum purchase (nothing there is under $7), plus tipping your waitress…you get my point.  Unfortunately, we just missed snagging a seat by one person. We were the first ones standing.  I took a trip upstairs, just figuring out they had restrooms and gift shop up there…and figuring out that this was where the Green Room was located.  I just don’t go to The Blue Note that often for shows so this was a fun discovery. Especially when I saw John come out of the Green Room and throw a smile my way.   People come from all over the world to stop in at The Blue Note, it’s gift shop stocked with all kinds of paraphernalia that  I wanted like the piano ashtray or the hanging poster of Lionel Hampton that isn’t even for sale.  When it does go on sale, my friend “E” and I will be fighting for it to the death.  After my explorations upstairs, we stand around for another 45 minutes.

Inside The Blue Note ~ Chick's Set Up

Inside The Blue Note ~ Chick's Set Up

Already weary from a long day’s work, standing in line outside for 30 minutes and another hour and a half inside, it didn’t take long for my friend to talk me into upgrading to a table so we could sit.  We had to wait until the rest of the reserved patrons were seated but we finally got a seat, in a decent spot for me to see Chick’s side view and John’s front view.  I was happy but, and this is a big but, we were HORRIBLY crammed into our seats, I was practically on top of my neighbor and I am a small little lady.  I felt like a sardine and my back was to the stage the way I was seated.  I turned and was grateful that I WAS a small human being and manipulated my way around to see the stage.  It is also about this time that I said screw the money and I made the MOST out of the awkward situation.  I ordered a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon and a scrumptious Flat Bread Salad with Grilled Chicken.  So much for the $40 budget, I think I walked out with a $130 bill that night…so worth every penny.

The Blue Note Bar Sign

The Blue Note Bar Sign

The stage was set with Chick’s grand piano to the left, Eddie’s stand up bass in front of that, Paul’s drum kit raged the middle of the stage and to the right of the stage stood John Scofield‘s stool and music stand.  The scene was set and everyone was waiting.  When they came onto the stage the venue erupted in applause.  I scanned the room looking for someone younger then me and my friend. I was hard-pressed and it made me weary.  I wished there were more young people who are willing to learn from a real musician instead of what was on their radio stations and MTV…barf music.  The set list that night was kind of hard for me, I picked up on 5 out of the 8 songs.  It was hard to tell where one ended and another began.  Luckily Chick’s website had the set list:

SET LIST:
Diane
Stella By Starlight
Song #1
Little Rootie Tootie
My Foolish Heart
Someday My Prince Will Come
Bessie’s Blues
Peri’s Scope

Chick Corea, Eddie Gomez, and John Scofield @ The Blue Note

Chick Corea, Eddie Gomez, and John Scofield @ The Blue Note

Diane, a song by Erno Rapee and Lew Pollack, was fast and playful. A great opener, a great song to show case their talent immediately.  There was playfulness between John and Chick right off the bat.   John breaks into his first solo of the night.  What do you think it sounded like?  It was crisp and fast and he was up off the stool as if the music had lifted him right out!  This first song was easily 10 minutes, so long and lovely.  They each took their turn down the line soloing.  Chick was second and being that Erno Rapee was a virtuoso pianist, this song was written for Chick to rage it.  Then it was Eddie’s turn and then it got quiet.  Chick starts the twinkling on the keys…playing scales.  I can see his fingers with his head lowered and slowly Paul sneaks back in with the beat.  John gets up and out of his seat again as he plants another lucrative solo on us.  This was just the first song and I was satisfied.  Great wine, great food, great company, GREAT music.

John Scofield @ The Blue Note

John Scofield @ The Blue Note

Stella By Starlight is a jazz standard, written by Victor Young, that I recognized immediately, but couldn’t grab the name when Chick gave it to us later. Chick started off plinking the keys.  So very slow, Miles Davis’ version has horns but there would be no horns on stage tonight.  With soft taps on the cymbals, Paul joins the songs.  It all seemed so very My Fair Lady, very lounge-y.  Eddie’s bass joined in with slow pulls of his bow here and there, so light and timid.  Just a gorgeous song.

Chick stands up and introduces the band to the audience. There is massive applause for each member.  “These are brand new Bill Evans songs composed a while ago,” Chick says.  “Happy belated Mother’s Day. The first song was called Diane.  We are doing song with ladies in the title….ladies tunes. We will be doing a few Thelonious tunes…”  And the music continues…

Eddie Gomez and John Scofield @ The Blue Note

Eddie Gomez and John Scofield @ The Blue Note

Song #1 is beyond me.  I had no clue what this song was and I still don’t.   John’s face was contorted into a knot as he played.  The main vein of the song was John on guitar with Chick coming in sporadically on keys.  Chick stopped to take off his jacket, taking a turn to smile at the audience as his back was to half of us.  My wine finally comes.  Even better.

Pounding on the keys with Paul’s drum backing Chick, Little Rootie Tootie, a Thelonious Monk song, was next.  A cute song that reminds me of Charlie Brown cartoons for some reason.  The piano section is just exquisite.  Chick was working up a sweat and dried off his key with the towel.  But it didn’t end there.  John picked up the melody and using his towel, Chick made strokes across the piano from one end to the other making the sounds he needs to banter with John.  This was so cool and lasted for a good three minutes.  My focus then went to Eddie on bass, plucking away as Chick inserts his two cents here and then abruptly ending.  Monstrous applause.

Eddie Gomez @ The Blue Note

Eddie Gomez @ The Blue Note

My Foolish Heart, another jazz standard by Victor Young, was to follow.  Mainly a solo piano piece, this was not to be Chick’s grand solo.  Eddie Gomez starts off very, very slow, dragging his bow across his bass.  With daunting pulls, he stood alone, his sound so deep and lovely.  I remember having to focus very hard as the table full of European tourists were drunk and talking loudly.  It is VERY hard for me to focus. I tried so hard. Luckily the manager came over and quieted them. It didn’t last long.  Did these people not know who they were watching?  I couldn’t believe their lack of manners.  This was not the show to be having a conversation and I was NOT the neighbor to be having a conversation by.  I only had to ask them once.  I was livid for a hot minute and I quickly let the music sooth me.  Heal my anger.  It didn’t take more then a few notes, a sip of my wine and a bite of my lovely salad to be put back into my happy place.  I fell in love with Eddie at this moment.  It was simply magnificent.

Eddie was playing this technically classical jazzy song all by himself and he had hooked me into a dream world as I closed my eyes and let his sound take me over.  There is something about how he played. I could have listened to it for hours. It was the most soothing part of the night. This was not jazz.  This was classical goodness and with the bass! So much appreciation!! It went on for quite some time…and then John comes back in…

Chick Corea, Eddie Gomez, and John Scofield @ The Blue Note

Chick Corea, Eddie Gomez, and John Scofield @ The Blue Note

As I sit there listening, I realize that the songs have been mashed up as Disney’s Snow White’s Someday My Prince Will Come was teased amongst the songs.  In my head I start singing:”A Dream That You Wish Will Come True”.  I also feel as though Norah JonesThe Nearness of You was teased by John.  I thought of my sister and wished she was there to hear this.

John Scofield @ The Blue Note

John Scofield @ The Blue Note

John Coltrane’s Bessie’s Blues brought us a new song, a new sound. Chick starts plunking the keys, pacing the song.  Straight Jazz.  Medium pulls on the bass strings, Eddie is very evident in this song.  Just a yummy jazzy song, all instruments playing at their leisure…that whole organized chaos vibe going on.  John pulled out a faster guitar here and during his solos, shredded his guitar with his face in a million different directions.  Chick’s fingers were moving fast as lighting.  John strums his guitar.  These two were just killing it and this became my favorite song of the night.  Eddie started playing so hard that you could hear his breathing over the music…his voice came out and he couldn’t help it.  And with an oh-so-bluesy ending, more applause and a huge smile on Chick’s face 🙂

Chick on Mic

Chick on Mic

The final song was Bill Evans’ Peri’s Scope.  I think that was the only Bill Evans song they performed to be honest unless that Song #1 is his.  This is not something that held back my happiness one bit. The night had been glorious and it wasn’t even close to being over.  A typical jazzy tune, John filling in for the horn section, it was lovely.  The piano was playful and John and Chick banter with their instruments. So upbeat, light. Soft taps of the cymbals and paced pulls of the bass strings. They were having fun and we felt it.

Chick Corea, Eddie Gomez, and John Scofield @ The Blue Note

Chick Corea, Eddie Gomez, and John Scofield @ The Blue Note

I felt as if it were over as soon as it begun.  I was in love with what I had seen and actually needed more.  Right then.  But there would be no encore and I had been surrounded by overly chatty people, the old gentleman behind me was drunk and HUMMED the entire set.  These things didn’t matter! Within a few minutes I was up out of my chair and ready to go straight up meet these legends.   And that is exactly what I did.  To the Green Room…

John Scofield and TR @ The Blue Note

John Scofield and TR @ The Blue Note (05.12.10)

Upon first meeting John, he asks me if I play guitar.  He asks my girlfriend the same question.  I believe he asks all the ladies this question as his follow up statement was “YIPPIE, I have girl fans.”  LOL!!!  The man was genuinely intrigued and a conversation began between the three of us that continued on for some time.  I lost track of my entire life during that time.  We spoke of the Montreal Jazz Festival, music, guitars, songs, NYC…to transcribe it would take forever and it’s times like these that I don’t need to write down for I will never forget these moments…

Chick Corea and TR @ The Blue Note (05.12.10)

Chick Corea and TR @ The Blue Note (05.12.10)

Upon meeting Chick, he wasn’t as excited but wasn’t fan-blocking me or anything either haha.  We talked about the set, this is the point we discussed song titles and I missed a few as I lost my mind a little during this meeting as well.  There are some artists where I can talk to them like they are family but there are others I can’t even look in the eyes for fear I might explode or turn to stone.  Yeah, it’s like that.  Just so much love for their music, I almost can’t speak to them cause, really, want me to be brutally honest??  The person is so different from the music and I am terrified of changing my relationship with the music.  I don’t generally like to have big sit downs with artists I like.  But when I do, I PRAY they are as genuine as their music.

In this case, Chick and John were lovely people, Eddie and Paul included, even though I barely spoke three words to them having the attention of Chick for a few minutes and John for a few minutes…that was good enough for me.  My friend and I raged the Green Room area for a bit meeting Chick’s wife, who was covered in what I referred to as “glitter.”  She corrected me and said, “Fairy Dust.”  She was a kindred spirit for sure.  After about 30 minutes of straight chillen, my girlfriend and I left The Blue Note completely speechless.  As we walked down the street, neither of us talked but I knew exactly what she was thinking: HOLY SHIT!!  THAT – JUST – HAPPENED!!!

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