Sunday, February 21, 2010

Prez Day

Last Monday was President's day and jazz has its own Prez, Lester Young. Celebrating Prez Day is as simple as playing jazz. On Saturday 2/21/10 we had a relatively small, dedicated turnout including Ira (also sax), Owen (accordion), Todd (trumpet), Gene (drums), Wes (tenor sax), Sam (mainly bass and a little trumpet synth today), Annie (vocals and workshop coordinator), Dick (vocals) and Tim (guitar).

The set list included "Making Whoopee," "In Walked Bud," "Dewey Square," "Einbahnstrasse," "Black Orpheus," "Always On My Mind," "Someone To Watch Over Me," "I Could Write a Book," "What Is This Thing Called Love," "Gentle Rain," "Bernie's Tune," "It Don't Mean a Thing," "More Than You Know," "When Sunny Gets Blue," "Up Jumped Spring," "Pent Up House," "If I Loved You," "Hallelujah I Love Him So," and "Peri's Scope."

Todd mentioned that he has been cataloguing the set lists and over the past four months we have played over 180 different songs without a lot of repetition. There were a few songs that have been played a half-dozen times or so in that time frame. This prompted some discussion about whether we should focus on a few songs to work up tight arrangements. More discussion to follow on that. Today, as I look at the list, most of the tunes are ones we have played before in the past two years although some only once or twice (like "Peri's Scope"). "Always On My Mind," "Dewy Square" and "Einbahnstrasse" (which may be intended to mean "One Way Street" but you'd have to ask Ron Carter) were new songs for the workshop.

There wasn't time to take photos today so I have selected photos from previous workshops featuring some of today's players. I realized that I have few photos of some- Ira, for example- and lots of photos of others and need to fix that. Anyway, in the photos we have: vocalist Dick Jacques; Tim on guitar and Sam on bass; Todd in a badly cropped photo to take out another player who wasn't here today; and finally Gene manning the drums.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Our Funny Valentine (also known as Saturday the 13th)

Ahead of the romance of Valentine's Day, eleven of us got together at McRae Park to play some jazz. Some of the songs were appropriate to the hopeful tendencies of the day- "My Funny Valentine" and "Like Someone In Love," for example, and some were less idealistic such as "Just Friends."

In a way there are two workshops each week, the first one focusing on learning the essentials of jazz soloing and head arrangements in an instrumental format and the second one also focusing on working with singers (accompanying and backing up, etc.). As usual, we started out with an hour of instrumentals; although we got a late start, the singers were also a bit late so we ended up with a full hour anyway.

The song list du jour included "Bye, Bye Blackbird," "Blue Bossa," "Ornithology," "Dear Old Stockholm," "The Sunny Side of the Street," "Footprints." Once the vocalists joined us, we had our standard rotation of a couple songs featuring each vocalist and then one or two instrumentals. The songs in this section included "My Funny Valentine," "Like Someone In Love," "Since I Fell For You," "How High The Moon," "Nostalgia In Times Square," "A Night In Tunisia," "Meditation," "Autumn In New York," "Don't Blame MMe," "Mr. P.C.," "There Will Never Be Another You," "I'm Beginning to See the Light," "Just Friends," "My Ship" and "St. Thomas."

The group was made up of Gene (drums), Ira (alto sax), Craig (guitar), Sam (trumpet synth and bass), Bob (guitar), Wes (tenor sax), Owen (accordion), Todd (trumpet), Dick (vocals), Annie (vocals) and Tim (guitar). Todd was nice enough to step out of a couple of songs and take photos and we've got most everybody in the pictures as a result, somehow missing only Dick and Todd (who was behind the camera).

In the photos: On top we have Wes; next are Craig, Tim and Sam showing what happens when there aren't enough books with a particular song in it; Gene (foreground) and Bob (background); Annie, Ira (left) and Bob (right); and Owen with one of his many accordions.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Postgoundhog Jazz

Another rendition of the workshop at McRae Park today, this one including Sam (trumpet synthesizer), Todd (trumpet), John (trumpet), Gene (drums), Owen (accordion), Craig (guitar), Wes (tenor sax), Tim (guitar) and vocalists Annie, Dick and Toria. No photos today as I was too busy playing to stop and take pictures; I took a few at the end while people were packing up but they aren't very interesting.

The songs today included "I Can't get Started," "Little Sunflower," "Sandu," "St. James Infirmary," "It Don't Mean A Thing," "But Beautiful," "That Old Feeling," "Take The 'A' Train," "What Is This Thing Called Love," "Birk's Works," "Corcovado," "It Co0uld Happen To You," "Black Orpheus," "Cherokee," "The Very Thought Of You," "Ornithology," "Don't Go To Strangers," "The Man I Love," "Come Rain or Come Shine," "Green Dolphin Street," "I Thought About You," and "Centerpiece."

Short post today. We'll be back at it next week (2/13/10) with the instrumental workshop at noon and with the vocalists from 1:00-3:45.