Return to Newport RI

 
I found myself rolling into a familiar joint, the Newport Blues Cafe this past Sunday to play a fundraiser for displaced Ukrainian children. Since the room had been taken hostage by tribute bands and corporate wedding groups I confess, I didn’t know the place still existed.  But there it was, in all it’s glory. With the sound system and personnel in top form, people were dancing and the room was bumping. Local Harmonica virtuoso James Montgomery even dropped in for the last set. And we raised some bucks for a great cause. I’d like to thank the Arts for Humanity for having me and I’m happy to have lent a hand with the fundraising.

The Wrong Things

We worry about the wrong things


Use excuses to not spread our wings


if we’ve got the love then it’s all we’re ever going to need


to build something greater than


the world has ever seen

The wrongs things


are still the wrong things


They use words to confuse but still


everyone knows


about the wrong things

How can a man stand up


or a woman be heard in this ocean of message


There’s people that love us and others that don’t know our name


If the message is louder than the voice that carries it


others will hear it and come running


Someday those wrong things they might disappear

The wrongs things


Are still the wrong things


They use words to confuse but still


everybody knows about the wrong things

They use words to confuse


We can’t always trust our eyes


Everyones guilty if you tell it that way


that’s shaking hands with the wrong things


The wrongs things


Are still the wrong things


They use words to confuse but still


everybody knows about the wrong things


Blackbird

The shortest guitar warmup on Earth

You can’t legislate love

Denzels body behavior as he waits for this reporter to ask the click-bait reductionistic question, is priceless.

Jazz would be better off with another drink

This is a reported story and not a firsthand experience.
A few weeks back jazz pianist Elane Elias was giving a concert here in Boston that included famous jazz bassist Marc Johnson.
Towards the end of the set of a nicely packed room of 200 jazz listeners a brave and tipsy woman heckled Johnson for a solo bass piece without the piano and drums.  The initial response was a reserved heat from the crowd.  How dare this woman just shout out to these jazz masters of the universe.  How disrespectful.  She must be drunk (she wasn’t but she appeared to be getting there).

She braved on, “It’s your birthday,” she shouted.  And it was.

The band then turned on him.  What a great idea.  They wanted to hear him play solo even though it “wasn’t in the schedule.”

And so…behold, emerges the greatest gift of jazz music, not the intricate melodies/harmonies and in current trends, impossible to follow rhythms, but its “availability” to go musical free climbing without a harness (solo or with others).

Creative improvisation, alone or with the group that’s invented in the moment and sounds like it was 7 months in the making.  And he made it sound good.

Johnson played a Miles Davis piece for 15 minutes and it became the most memorable moment of the night.
Again, I wasn’t there, this was the report I got by very intelligent and trustworthy observer (who also happens to be a jazz musician).

Does jazz need more crowd bravery inspired by drinking and socializing behavior?  

If you think the jazz world has moved too far into the classical concert setting, where the Keith Jarretts of the world stop the concert if an audience member coughs, and that maybe jazz might be better off in a rowdier climate where the listeners drink a bit more, and then ask for a bit more, and people clap along and make sounds…when they hear virtuosity they stamp their feet and say “hell yes,” then maybe jazz would be better off with another drink.