Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cool evening, hot music

It was unseasonably cool today, only 72F for a high. We had a great turnout at the McRae Park building for the Monday evening jazz workshop. Regulars Sam (trumpet), Wes (tenor sax), Gene (drums), Christian (piano), Tim (guitar) and Ira (alto sax) were joined for the instrumental hour by the another Tim on bass, his daughter Romney on baritone sax and Todd on trumpet. Joining us later were Annie and Vicki (vocals) and Scott (guitar) and Jim (baritone sax). The main focus was again on songs to be played at the Freedom Jazz Festival on 8/1/09 (see the link over on the right).

This week I actually remembered to write down the tunes and the attendees! For the first hour we focused on instrumentals including "Four Brothers" (arranged by Christian), "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed," "Yardbird Suite" and "St. Thomas" (played at a gentle, tropical, almost Jimmy Buffet tempo). The vocalists joined in and we played "I'll Remember April," "What Is This Thing Called Love," "East of the Sun" sung by Vicki and "Feeling Good," ""The Masquerade Is Over," and "Don't Go To Strangers" sung by Annie. Jim sang "Tangerine." We also played "Straight, No Chaser" as an instrumental in the middle of all the vocals.

The cool thing was that the new participants- Tim, Romney and Todd- fit in well and sounded good. Scott, a professional jazz guitarist and former workshop regular who stopped in spontaneously, added interesting ornaments and passing chords to the half-dozen tunes he sat in on. Several of the songs got their best airing ever, including "Four Brothers," "Elizabeth Reed," and "Feeling Good" in particular.

All in all a good and fun evening. Hope to see you next week! Maybe I'll eventually manage to remember a camera and to write things down...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

"Hot" jazz on 6/22/09

It was a hot Minnesota day and I had to miss the jazz workshop due to a prior commitment. From our special correspondent, Sam Fiske, on the scene at McRae Park on 6/22/09:

"Attendees: Christian Lamot, Gene Egan, Ira Adelman, Matt Riley, Wes Simmons, Vicki Earhart, Sam Fiske and Annie Favors. Plus Susan a vocalist and a trumpet/guitar guy stopped by to check us out. Hope to see them again.

Worked during the instrumental hour on expected tunes for the Freedom Jazz Fest: Four Brothers, Elizabeth Reed and St Thomas.

The gals sang several great tunes including: Since I Fell For You, Hello Young Lovers, Soon It's Gonna Rain."

A note to the readers of the blog- we could really use a steady bassist, that's been one important instrument missing from the lineup. Sam plays bass sometimes but prefers trumpet and Don has graciously filled in as needed, but we really need a steady player to make the commitment for coming each week. If you play bass or know someone who does, let them know of our need!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Half-way Point

June 15th is the halfway point of the year, to my way of thinking, and with the solstice only a week away it's the astronomical halfway point as well. Given that summer hasn't even really started, that's a depressing thought. So enough of that!

The workshop met again on Monday 6/15/09. For the first hour the instrumentalists had a space to work on tunes for the Freedom Jazz Festival. Attendees included Wes (tenor sax), Gene (drums), Paul (guitar) and Tim (guitar). Later Craig (guitar) also joined us. We played several tunes but not very diligently, "Ornithology" being the best of the bunch. We also looked at the A section of "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" to check out the harmony part I wrote for Wes; the end result of that it that it goes back into the hopper for further development as the harmony was technically correct but sounded wrong.

Vicki (vocals) and Annie (vocals) then joined us and a little later Norman (piano) also arrived. Vicki tried out several new-for-her songs ("I Remember You" and "The Man I Love" being two of them). Annie sang "Invitation" and several others (I really should write these thigns down). We also played "Blue Bossa."

All right, that's the report for halfway through 2009. Next workshop is 6/22/09 from 6:00-8:45.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Budget Cuts

Paul e-mailed me to say that on 6/8/09 he went to McRae Park for the Monday evening workshop only to find the building locks and dark, with a notice up that for "budgetary reasons" the building was closed 6/9-10/09. My advice would be to call the park (612-370-4909) in advance of going to workshops to make sure the building will be open. Their Web site does not seem to list events like this.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The news at 11

I missed putting up a post about the first Monday evening workshop on 6/1/09. This was the last night to rehearse songs for the gig on Saturday 6/6/09 (more on that below). In attendance were Annie and Vicki (vocals), Sam (trumpet), Christian (piano), Don (bass), Jim (baritone sax), Wes (tenor sax), Gene (drums), Martin (percussion), Matt (flute) and Tim (guitar). We did run-throughs of "Four Brothers" featuring four part harmony arranged by Christian, "St. Thomas," "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" in about its 10th iteration arranged by Tim (someday he'll get it right), "Feeling Good," "At Last," "I'll Remember April," and several others that, five days later, I can't recall.

On Saturday 6/6/09 the workshop played at the McRae Park Fun Day from 12:30PM-2:00PM. This is usually an outdoor event, but due to the cold temperatures and rain things were moved indoors. This was good as cold wet weather makes if hard to play an instrument with any facility, and for the bassist and guitarist, holding an electrified instrument while getting rained on and standing in water leaves much to be desired. Musicians playing at the gig were all of the above plus Dick (vocals). We played "Four Brothers," "Yardbird Suite," "Feeling Good," "Corcovado," "At Last," "Day by Day," "I'll Remember April," "Centerpiece," "St. Thomas," "Gentle Rain," and probably a half dozen other songs that aren't coming back to me as I type this. The gig was fun and went pretty well.

The workshop will now be meeting on Monday evenings from 6:00PM-8:45PM throughout the summer. The next one is 6/8/09. If you're interested in playing jazz, come on down and give it a whirl.