I just had 2 really excellent nights of music. Another weekend that made me incredibly happy to be in NYC. I was still sick, but I mainly rested and slept during the day and was able to get out and feel better at night. I’m feeling pretty good now, so the strategy worked.
On Sat night, I started at the incredible Dave Douglas ensemble doing the music of Randy Weston at Abrons Art Center. It was absolutely phenomenal. At the end, we found out that Randy Weston was there in attendance. That was really cool. I’ve been wanting to check out Louis Bonilla’s band for a while. I’m going to make more of a point. He was the trombone player and it was great. His name caught my eye when they were playing at The Zinc Bar and I figure it’s Latin and I want to check it out. Nasheet Watts on drums was fantastic, as usual. Marcus Rojas on tuba is always good. He held down the bass lines. I can’t get over how he can stand there holding that enormous tuba during an entire set. Donny McCaslin is a great sax and flute player. I can’t remember the name of the keyboard guy, but he was great as well. It was really a wonderful performance and a very special thing.
I then headed over to the Village Vanguard for Dr. Michael White’s Original Liberty Jazz Band of New Orleans. They all have that same arrangement, banjo, trumpet, trombone, clarinet, bass, drums and I like them all. However, this is one of the best and definitely stands out. The past 2 years, I’ve done Pres Hall Jazz Band at Jazz Standard and then over to the Vanguard for Dr. Michael White. I could really see the difference in the caliber when I did that. I would have gladly done that again this year, but Pres Hall didn’t come up this winter. Oh well. We also got a special, very difficult Jelly Roll Martin song that the Dr. said was a request. He said it was very difficult and his clarinet had a cold, meaning he had a cold. Join the club. You couldn’t tell in his playing, though. My cold was helped out by the delicious Pear William brandy at the Vanguard. I’ve been wanting to try that for a while, and it’s really good.
I then headed over to Blue Note for the late night super funky The Blue Method. I do hate Blue Note during normal hours, but occasionally brave it anyway. However, late night when it’s not too crowded can be pretty good over there. It’s only $8 cover, you are allowed to dance, and it’s a little more laid back. If it’s not a crowded show and you went to the 2nd set of the regular hours band, you can usually stay for the late night for free.
I’ve seen the Blue Method before at Coda and really enjoyed it. There were only about 3 of us there when they opened that time. I think they brought some of their fans from Philly this time and there were random people and some from the 2nd set, so it had a nice vibe. Their drummer was sick and actually had to go into the hospital that day. They had a substitute drummer the bass player knew, Joe, sit in. Joe had never played with them. They played more covers than usual because of that. Well, Joe knows how to keep the groove. It was really awesome. Their saxophone is especially great and plays a lot of awesome funkin long solos. They did my favorite James Brown tune, the Big Payback. They did one blues tune. They did Cissy Revisited. They did a great different funky arrangement of Thank Ya Fo Lettin Me Be Mice Elf Agin. It was awesome! Not many people were dancing, but that didn’t stop me! I had a great time. I got their new cd, but haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet. They played from about 1:00am – 2:15am or so. I think they ran out of songs that both the band and Joe knew. The encore was a Stevie Wonder tune. It was a great way to end the night.
The next day, my cold was done, and I had barely drank the night before, but I couldn’t get out of bed. I think I needed to sleep off the sickness. It meant that when I finally did emerge at around 4pm, I felt great and was raring to go.
I went to The Stone for my first Charles Gayle experience. Oh my! Words cannot describe how incredible that was. At first, I was so mesmerized by Charles Gayle that I barely noticed the bass and drums. Fortunately, he let them solo and duo together at times so I was able to realize how great they were. I can’t believe how amazing that music was. He had a white alto and the music just went in all kinds of directions. Towards the end, he played the piano. But, before he did, he had to put on a blindfold and a clown mask so he couldn’t see a thing. He said it’s easier to play the sax without looking than the piano. That helped bring home how great he is and how he was just playing from feeling and what the spirit struck him to do. Before the set began we saw him sitting in a chair in the corner by his sax and it looked like he was praying.
I just felt like I was the presence of true greatness.
1/6 Sunday (MM) 8 pm
Charles Gayle and Guests
Charles Gayle (sax, piano) Hill Greene (bass) Rynn Sawyer (drums)
Nothing could follow that up. Still, I probably was going to be up for a while, so I may as well go to Jimmy’s for Jason Hwang’s EDGE. It was good, but after the previous set, it was kind of tough to stay. I would have liked it more another time. It just wasn’t on the same caliber as a lot of stuff I tend to see. But, it was still good nonetheless. I’m just very spoiled.
9PM Jason Hwang's EDGE with Taylor Ho Bynum, Andrew Drury, Ken Filiano