Friday night I got to do one of my favorite things. I played with Technicolor Motor Home at Ram’s Head On Stage in Annapolis. It’s the second time we’ve been there and the second time we’ve sold the place out. It’s not a huge venue but it has a great vibe and thee have been some amazing acts on that stage so it just feels great to be up there. It’s always a great time when I play with these guys especially playing with my partners in horn section crime, Dave Makowiecki and Jim McFalls. It was a great night and here are some samples:
Last song of the night after over 2 hours of playing..still a lot of energy going on:
A little EWI action on this one. The chromatic harmonica patch was a free download from EWI Reason Sounds. It was a melodica on the original recording but this gets the job done.
Some horn section goodness and some wonderful guitar work by Ben Sherman:
I played the Cannonball Raven on this gig with my Phil Barone Super New York mouthpiece and Rigotti Gold 3 1/2 M reeds. It was a struggle because I was still having a devil of a time with the G# key sticking. I made it through the night but it drove me crazy the whole time and I had a really hard time feeling settled. I took the horn to L&L Music in Gaithersburg where I bought it and they are looking it over and adjusting it as a warranty repair so I’m hopeful that it will be great when I get it back. With the exception of the sticking key (which could be attributed to a bunch of things) the horn felt absolutely awesome…very tight and punchy and it just looks awesome.
This week I’m playing a LOT of bari in a big band setting. Every year a local private high school called Archbishop Curley has a night of jazz featuring their students and an alumni band along with a guest act. I didn’t go to Curley but I have a few friends there and I’ve subbed with the alumni band numerous times including every chair in the sax section at one time or another. I think this will be my third concert with them and the first for me on bari. We had a rather long rehearsal this evening and we will have two more before the concert on Saturday night. I’m playing on my Selmer bari with my Lawton 8*B mouthpiece and it’s really starting to feel a lot more comfortable…maybe I don’t need to get some mouthpieces refaced after all. Oh well, I already sent one off to Mojo (Keith Bradbury) so it’s a done deal anyway. I’m also using an inexpensive reed alternative – Woodwind brand from the Woodwind and the Brasswind. I ordered the jazz cut in a 3 and they are playing really well for me right now. I also have some La Voz MH that I have prepared in the rotation as well. We’re only doing 5 tunes for the concert but it looks like it will be a lot of fun. I think there are a few tickets available for “All That Curley Jazz” but it appears to be another sellout this week. 🙂
Friday night we had the CD release party for the new Crack the Sky CD called Ostrich. I mentioned before that my usual horn section, The Retox Horns, is also the Crack Pack Horns when we play with Crack the Sky. We were able to record three songs for this CD and two of them were in the set for this show along with 4 other songs from the usual rotation. The gig was at Club 66 in Edgewood, MD and we played to a packed house of very excited people. Harford County, MD is my old stomping grounds so there were a lot of people I knew there.
Club 66 is a private BYOB club in an old VFW hall next to a working gas station. It’s not very fancy but it’s a very homey and comfortable place to play. They built a special stage just for the horn section with its own entrance from the green room. I call it a loft because it’s way up above the regular stage – even above the PA stacks. Crack the Sky always uses this room to tune up the show before going out to other venues but this weekend the other venue cancelled at the last minute.
Check out Happy, Happy, Happy from the new CD played live. The dude that’s putting his thumb up and pointing is showing you where the horns are.
Two notable things about this show. First, our usual trombone player, Jim McFalls, was unable to attend so we had one of his former students play. Darius Jones is an excellent up and coming trombonist who is now living in NY where he is getting a graduate degree at NYU He is also an adjunct professor at NYU. He did a great job with very little prep time and this is not an easy book by any stretch of the imagination. It’s a blow especially for brass players and there are some really tricky rhythms to deal with.
Second, I used the Cannonball tenor and it felt absolutely wonderful for this gig. I used the fat neck and the horn felt really big and open which is perfect for a rather loud gig like this one. Intonation was excellent and the horn felt very comfortable for me – like I’ve had it for years. My partner in crime, Dave Makowiecki (trumpet) said he really liked the sound of it and he’s been pretty vocal in the past if I brought something out that wasn’t cutting it. I remember an incident years ago where I borrowed a Keilwerth from a friend out to a gig. I played one song on it and Dave just turned to me and said, “No” so I put it away. 🙂 I had no such issues this time around although he did say he missed seeing my old, road-worn Mark VI.
I had a really great night on Friday. I was playing with Technicolor Motor Home at the Recher Theatre in Towson, MD. This band is one of my greatest pleasures right now. First off, it’s a great bunch of musicians and a tremendous bunch of people to hang out with. It’s incredibly gratifying for me to be included in such a wonderful group. Second, the band is a tribute to Steely Dan but rather than trying to go the whole “Beatlemania” route and dressing up in costumes, we are content to be a tribute to the band’s live concerts. That means we are doing arrangements that are in many cases more complex than what was done in the studio recordings and we’re also able to solo much more freely rather than trying to mimic whatever was played on the original recordings…not that there’s anything wrong with Tom Scott, Pete Christlieb, Wayne Shorter, and Chris Potter but Walt Weiskopf and Cornelius Bumpus really pushed the envelope in the live shows. Another great thing is that the fan reaction to the band has been phenomenal. Of course, we don’t get to play together too often since people would get sick of us doing the same music over and over. Also a group of people this talented and sought after in the area (and a large group at that) is very hard to schedule. So it goes without saying that we end up cherishing the time we do spend together.
Playing behind the “mastermind” Glenn Workman.
One more thing, above and beyond all that, this band has probably the finest total package horn section I have ever had the pleasure to work with. The Retox Horns, Dave Makowiecki, Jim McFalls, and I seem to have a rather special bond when we play together as a section and our ability to have fun while hanging out is second to none. We originally started playing together in another band called Expensive Hobby and have been together as a section for at least 5 or 6 years but I think it’s been longer. Currently, we are the section in TMH as well as for a band called Crack the Sky (where we are called the Crack Pack Horns). We’ve also been together in the studio for a few very fun projects recently. I’ll have more on that as details become more available.
We tried to do our soundcheck as quickly as possible because some good buddies of ours were playing a block party type thing right down the street from us and we wanted to check them out. Rumba Club is an outstanding group featuring some of the absolute best jazz and latin players in Maryland if not anywhere. The band is always a great musical experience to see and it’s never less than a blast of a hang. If you ever get the chance to see this band please make sure you do it. We only got to hear a couple songs but it was worth the effort and a couple of the guys came over to see our show when they were done which was very nice of them.
Food was provided by the club…I had a turkey burger. 🙂 In deep rotation in the dad van this week is the new Pat Metheny album called Unity. Pat Metheny and Chris Potter playing together…how can you pass that up?