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Posts Tagged ‘Stanley Clark’

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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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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"I've always enjoyed science and how much it translats to music" ~ Richie Goods

"I've always enjoyed science and how much it translats to music" ~ Richie Goods

Jazz Fusion!!! FUUUUUUUUSION!!!  This was to be special night of music.  First night of fusion music all year. God that word alone makes me tingly….There are certain things that are constantly stirring in the back of my head on any given day.  Oddly enough, there isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t think of fusion…of artists like Al Di Meola, Zawinul, Stanley Clark, Chick Corea, George Benson, Jean-Luc Ponty, George Duke.  Just their gorgeous sounds…I hear it in my head all the time…Oh dear lord, I’m getting heated.  If you have never listened to these artists, I DEMAND you download anything by them…IMMEDIATELY!

Return to Forever in Rochester, New York, 1976

Return to Forever in Rochester, New York, 1976

Those artists were my musical muses in that genre when I was growing up.  I remember buying my first Al Di Meola cd as all my friends were buying the new Dave Matthews Band cd, back in 9th grade.   I remember the looks I got and being told what a waste of money that was.  Some people just can’t be taught 🙂  I have to give a shout out to my father for playing jazz around me all my life and blocking MTV/VH1 and BET from the cable lineup! Thank you! Thank you!  Thank you!

Richie Goods somewhere in NY

Richie Goods somewhere in NY

Fusion is my favorite genre of music and for you funk lovers, I apologize but that is the way it is!  Nothing will ever change it.  The beauty about this evening was that Richie Goods & Nuclear Fusion would be delivering a heavy hand of funk laden fusion music and I was SO HAPPY!!! Having been invited to the performance by Jeffery Lockhart, we spoke prior to the show and he sounded terrible.  The poor dear was sick as a dog but he is a rager and was making his way from Boston!  The show must go on…

Heading to the venue, terribly excited about shooting the show and reviewing it, I heard a piano player in the subway and saw an upright being played by the stairs.  How the HELL did he get that thing into the subway?   I knew I had to take a picture but as I want for my camera, it wasn’t there.   Are you kidding me?  I NEEEEEEVER forget my camera and there was no time to go and get it before the show started. I was devastated…yes, devastated.

Piano in subway...HOW on earth? LOL!!

Piano in subway...HOW on earth? LOL!!

I arrived at The Zinc Bar 30 minutes before the show.  Members of Nuclear Fusion were gathered near the front of the venue as the band playing before them was still occupying the stage.  There was poor Jeffery, half sprawled out on a couch trying to hold his head up and fighting the groggy meds.  Hugs and introductions were exchanged and the first thing Jeffery says…”Let me see that camera you work with!”  I about died, of course.  “That’s ok, you are talented and will figure it out.”  He’s a good man!

Being introduced to Lionel Cordew, a last minute drummer replacement, he was super chatty and nice.  We spoke about autistic children who are musical geniuses.  About the kid who writes complete symphonies in his head and only writes them out when he has finished mentally composing them.  And the kid who, once you ask him to play a song, can play it in any musical genre you want.  It’s amazing how the world works!  Richie Goods walks over and introductions make their rounds again.  He recalls me from our discussions over Facebook and smiles abound.  This is a great group of men, a great group of talent.  I am a lucky, lucky lady!

The Zinc Bar

The Zinc Bar

The Zinc Bar is just swanky cool, with a long bar to your left leading the way to a intimate space with the stage in the back.  There were oriental rugs under my feet and on stage, lovely jazz music like Etta James, Dean Martin and Billy Holiday being played on the speakers.  The small round tables were candlelit, 2 to 6 seaters, very intimate.  The lights were low and the mood was romantic. There were numerous people on dates and it was a good choice on whoever’s part as the music that night was perfect for date night!  Someone’s gettin’ lucky!!!

I take a seat in the front so I could ATTEMPT to capture pictures with my camera phone, yes, my camera phone.  Oh the horror….I am disgusted at my forgetfulness.  Especially, as I turned in my seat and saw Jeffery’s cheetah print guitar case that I so desperately wanted a picture of! Jeffery comes over and places his glasses on my table, “These are prescription,” and with that he takes to the stage with Richie Good and Nuclear Fusion.

Helen Sung ~ awesome!

Helen Sung ~ awesome!

Wait a minute, who was this lovely female sitting down at the keys? A FEMALE fusion keys player!  WORD!!!!!  Her name is Helen Sung and she is fierce. But more about her later…

The manager sees my notebook and pen and introduces himself.  He is the one and only Jean Claude of The Zinc Bar who has been with them 15 years and I felt like I knew him immediately.  An infectious character, his energy and charisma alone makes me want to go back to Zinc, just for a hug 🙂

After a little technical difficulty with the amps, it was show time.  The stage, from left to right, went: Lionel Cordew on drums, Richie Goods on bass, Helen Sung on Keys and Jeff Lockhart on the guitar. Yes sir! Sound check commenced, I heard the bass tease a little and I sat a little straighter in my chair. The immediate thought I had in my head, which I scribbled into my notes at that point was: There is so much positive to embrace right now, it’s quite easy to release the negative. The music hadn’t even started yet and already I was getting emotional in my heart and poetic in my mind.  All it took was a strum of Richie’s bass.

What a lovely combination of artists.  And Jean Claude fully agreed.  Introducing the band in his lovely thick French accent, he fiercely praised Richie Good as they had been working together for over 15 years. What a friendship.  As he descended the stage to let them play, he literally skipped away with happiness.

Going right into the first song, a medley of tunes written by Richie and intro written by Helen called Soul Glow, they got it started.  The introduction to the song showcased Helen and I was immediately hooked.  A female fusion keys player…I loved it!  After Helen brought us in with the fusion, Richie and Jeff picked it up with the funk.  Jean Claude makes his round to the front screaming: “YES! YES!” It’s Jeffery’s turn to plug a solo, filling the space that needs to be filled.  Richie’s bass is funk throughout and Helen’s smile never fades as she keeps the fusion sound flowing through the funky bass laden song.  Jean Claude comes over to my table, kisses me on the check and darts off again.  Jeffery gave us a lovely solo again before he nods everyone else into the mix for the ending.

Helen Sung and Jeffery Lockhart @ The Zinc Bar

Helen Sung and Jeffery Lockhart @ The Zinc Bar

Sorceress by Lenny White would be next.  Jean-Claude screams “Talk to me now! Yes! Bring it!”  Richie’s bass teases in the guitar.  I was reminded of Victor Wooten and focused directly on Richie.  The scene on stage was not loud and intense by any means but the feelings that were coming off of Richie’s facial expressions were deep and it looked like he was screaming when he played.  This was his time to shine….he raged, slapping the bass with funk, for a solid 3 minutes.  Moving to the front of the stage and radiating his feelings of music through his body and out his fingers.  And then it was time for the Nuclear team to come together.  Jeffery has some major foot play with his pedals.  There was a lot of droney note holding and manipulations of his sound.  At one point it reminded me of the Sirens from Oh Brother, Where Art Thou!  After some playful instrumental banter between Jeffery and Helen, Helen moved forward with Richie to lead the song. I LOVED HELEN!  I just loved how her fingers swiftly and fiercely struck the keys, she barely taped them it appeared.  Her fusion vibe threaded through out every song that night under the funky beat of the strings. It was now time for a drummer solo rage from Lionel.  He was chewing gum and is also a face making machine so it provided for some interesting combination of looks!!  This was his first time playing with the group as the original drummer, Mike Clark, was unable to make it.  (Jeffery coughs ~ Poor Jeffery) Helen soloed again and Jeffery snuck in with a few scraps of strums of his strings. At this point, a conga player (later find out his name is Victor Jones) sat down at some rouge congas and started playing.  Smiles between the players abounded.

Richie Goods and Nuclear Fusion @ The Zinc Bar

Richie Goods and Nuclear Fusion @ The Zinc Bar

Welcome to The Zinc Bar,” says Richie as he addresses the crowd for the first time that night!  He shouted out the names of tunes which helped me drastically.  He explained that this 3rd song is what he feels a fusion/jazz/funk band might sound like in the desert, thus Desert Jam ensued.  The opening solos by Richie and Helen were gorgeous.  It was ethereal, floaty throng of space action, beautiful bass play over the twinkling of the keys.  One of only two original songs on his CD, Desert Jam was slow, gorgeous, light.  Eyes were closed, light taps on the cymbals.  Mmm, bouncy bass, funky keys and guitar together….definitely a tune with its fingers in some kind of Arabic/tribal undertones.  They conversed on a solo and Jeffery was to take the reins first.  He took his trip around the desert and it was AWESOME!!!! With a slow, strummy pickin’ of his guitar, changing his sounds as the others on stage gave him a pallet of to fill in the blanks at his leisure.  There is a time and place for every note to be played.  Jeffery knows when to hit it, when to wait, when to plow in and when to give slow restraint.  Heavy deep drawn out notes come from his guitar as if he were having a fight in that desert.  It was upbeat, as if he came to fight and with their shifty eyes, the group all came back together in play.  Richie rages a high noted solo that brought him up on his toes!!  It was deep and brought a bit of funk to an other wise relaxing song.  Lionel’s sticks go down and he uses his fingers and hand on the drums to get his sounds heard! I started picturing camels, sand, oasis…I quite literally felt Richie Goods had encapsulated just what a funk/jazz/fusion band would sound like in the desert.  It was my favorite song of the night.

Helen Sung and Jeffery Lockhart @ The Zinc Bar

Helen Sung and Jeffery Lockhart @ The Zinc Bar

It was time for Richie to address the crowd again.  “Judging by what I think your ages are I think you all might know this song.  However, not many people have heard it in a jazz vein before.  It’s a pop tune from the 80’s and I want to see how many of yall figure it out.” (Jeff coughs – poor, poor Jeff)  And they went into it!!  Richie started off with his bass, picking up the intro to the song, a sexy sound came from the bass.  It took me until Helen played the chorus on the keys to realize it was Shout by Tears of Fears.  Honestly, I only knew the lyrics and was singing it under my breath as soon as it started but couldn’t place the band.  But they certainly “let is all out” during this song.  I always love hearing songs being performed out of their styles. It’s one of the beautiful things about music.  I love manipulation of sounds.  With both Jeffery and Richie playing in unison, Lionel was granted a little drummer rage and then Helen.  Richie smiled as Jeffery holstered his guitar on his leg, the song turns into a jammy jammy tune when Helen raged the keys, as Richie blasts that giant white smile of his! So cute! Even though this song was one everyone knew at points, during the solos and the breakoffs you would never know what song it was.  Improvisation is one of the beauties of fusion.  Everyone plays and it comes together to create a complicated grouping of sounds that work as one.  Then it was a full stop, you could hear a pin drop, and then the drum SLAMS into a FUNKY beat, the remaining players bring the song to a close.

Richie Goods and Nuclear   Fusion Live

Richie Goods and Nuclear Fusion Live

Man, so at this point some drunk girl tried scatting…it was HORRID!  Being ADHD and being able to hear EVERYTHING in the background like a damn (insert non-hard of hearing animals type here), it overwhelmed my senses immediately and immediately began ruining my experience.  So, being the bratty musical bitch I am, it only took me a few minutes before I finally had to just turn around, look her dead in the eyes and just say fiercely, “NO WAY MAN! STOP!”   A few patrons clapped and smiled at me and I knew I had done the right thing. I didn’t feel like a bitch anymore hahahaha!

Time for the CD plug!!!  Richie Goods & Nuclear Fusion: Live at The Zinc Bar!! I was lucky enough to be given a CD by Jeffery and have been listening to it the entire time I have been sitting here writing.  It is gorgeous and fun and pretty and full of funky fusion vibes.   I encourage you all to buy it.

Richie Goods and Nuclear Fusion @ The Zinc Bar

Richie Goods and Nuclear Fusion @ The Zinc Bar

The last song was another Lenny White cover called Dark. The strings and drums start off the first few measures as the keys float in shortly after.  Helen stood out in my ears during this song.  As well as Richie’s giant smile! I had run to the restroom at this point and on the way back, caught myself dancing behind the tables and the hippie in me wanted to call everyone to their feet.  The KAREN in me wanted to run around pulling everyone out of their seat 🙂 It’s hard to sit down at concerts…SERIOUSLY hard for me! Richie came in with another bass solo that brought him to the front of the stage, back up on his toes when he hit those higher notes.   He is non-stop with that bass.  His flow, his determination, his body movements, his facial expressions…he is a whole package of funky fusion bass playing and I fell in love with his sound and energy that night.  He has the distinction of being the youngest person ever inducted into the Pittsburgh Jazz Hall of Fame. I encourage you all to check him out immediately.  He must have raged his solo for at least 5 minutes.  It was FUNKY with what felt like Latin undertones coming through…hot, slow, fast, just HOT! The Latin vibe made way for the fusion/funk again and the droney sounds of Jeffery’s guitar picked up and the pedal work commenced.  Helen backs out on the keys and it’s over. Just like that.

There were two sets played that night. I enjoyed the first set so much that I remained for the entirety of the second.  During the set break, Jeffery sat down and we talked about music, family, him being sick and feeling like death. Poor Jeffery!  I asked him what influenced him to pick up a guitar and he explained that his brother had brought home a Jimi Hendrix CD and played Purple Haze.  Yeah, I can see how that might want to make someone pick up a guitar also hahaha!   The second set was identical to the first with a few rearrangements of the song set list and with a whole new sound of improvisational jazzy funk fusion.  Richie blasted right into his bass rage and I knew their first set had warmed them up for an explosive second. And so I closed my notebook, propped my feet up and soaked up every note with a huge smile on my face.  Thank you Richie Goods for putting together a fantastic set of artist and making my Wednesday night complete!


1. Ongoing – Spring Creek Park (77th Street and 156th Avenue) – The resident at Lots 35 and 48 in Block 11456 in Queens/Brooklyn  appear to have extended their fence line into what is known as “forever wild” parklands.  The land is not landscaped.  (09/11/06 – Rcvd email from Kaitilin Griffen initiating contact about encroachment.) (09/21/06 – Rcvd information from Dominick Cusamano.  Rcvd Map of encroachment with various pictures and highlights.) (12/06/06 – Lesley still waiting on Title report to determine easement was removed. Kaitilin states that she is not aware of an easement on this property and wants to speak with Lesley.) (12/14/07 – Lesley emailed Kaitilin with various questions that needed to be answered before she proceeds.) (07/16/06 – Rcvd Memo from Commissioner Lewandowski’s Office regarding encroachment see notes below)(07/24/07 – Rcvd email from Katlin stating that we are no longer to pursue this file until Antonios contacts our office as he is working with Josh Liard on the matter.) (10/01/09 –Rcvd correspondence from Commissioner Lewandowski’s Office regarding all the letters and documents that Mr. Jackson has written us.)  (10/21/09 – No action was taken towards this case for some time as it appears the notes and documentation is all misplaced.  Possibly closed and archived.  However, it was resurrected through the grapevine.  Please see notes below. There are also numerous sites mentioned in the memo from Commissioner. Lewandowski that we have not pursued or been asked to pursue.)

a. Ongoing – Block 11456/ Lot 35 – (Lesley) Mr. Ross and Diane Jackson are maintaining an illegal encroachment at site.  Specifically, they have installed a fence at site. (07/16/07 – Rcvd memo from Commissioner Lewandowski’s office stating that the Jackson’s were interested in purchasing this portion of the park, and therefore brought it to Parks attention.)(10/01/09 – Rcvd correspondence from C.L’s office containing letter from Mr. Jackson stating that he has been communicating with the office for two years and has yet to get a response to his query of purchasing the land.)  (10/21/09 – Made Lesley aware of the correspondences and that she might have to write a response.)

b. Ongoing – 155-18 77th Street – Block 11456 – Lot 113, 48, 40 & 36 – (Lesley) Mr. Giovanni Peconic is maintaining illegal encroachment at site. Specifically, he has installed a driveway, shed, play equipment, a PVC fence, and construction equipment and debris at site.  (10/09/09 – Letter written to Mr. Peconic. Required to remove all illegal property by December 1, 2009.) (10/20/09 – Antonios confirmed that the PRM is Macceau Medozile.)

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