Sunday, August 20, 2006

Had a successful gig yesterday afternoon working behind (with the trio that I put together for) Giacomo Gates at the Chestertown Jazz Festival. I was exhilarated afterward, and I suspect that it showed in my gig with (playing solo piano behind) Bryan Clark that evening. This was a stylistic challenge for me. Giacomo represents a be-bop vocal approach (at which he is an ace) that for some jazz critics, would be considered "historic", as Giacomo pays homage to the legacy of Charlie parker, Miles Davis, Jon Hendricks... For me, however, it stretches the boundary of my (less than fully academic) approach to jazz (in other words, my "style" reaches back even further in time). In the be-bop and (especially) beyond world, the emphasis moves to a more specific harmonic "vocabulary": an analysis of the internal structure, that, to many a modern "purest" becomes the standard by which a jazz performance is judged. My own emphasis (not being one that organizes complex intellectual structure easily, but rather seeks to grasp the essence and meaning) is the connection with the soul of the audience (and I mean that in a genuine spiritual sense). This I judge my own performances by, and aspire to at every gig. I was confident going in that I had chosen the right guys to hire (Giacomo called me on a referral from Dick Durham to put together a band for him, so I called Alan Dale and Max Murray) to give him the hard swinging foundation for his largely be-bop repertoire, and Giacomo's response to us proved me correct. As for me, I felt that, after a shaky start, that I was able to land in the zone in which I could make my approach work in this not entirely familiar realm (I did not know a number of the tunes, that if I were a real be-bop guy, I would know in my sleep) and relied heavily on his charts. By the end of my day (after my evening gig) I felt comfortably spent, and grateful.

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