Saturday, July 24, 2010

Another Thursday In the Park

The 22nd of July found us together again playing jazz- 13 of us, to be exact. It's pretty amazing that 13 people will come out on a beautiful summer's evening to play this wonderful music- although if the alternative is mowing the lawn yet again, maybe it's not so amazing.

There were first-time participants tonight, both drummers: Scott and Ron. We were also rejoined by Elmer on tenor sax who'd been here before a while ago. Other musicians included Neill (bass), Max (bass), Gene (drums), Josh (guitar), Tim-the-blog-maintainer (guitar), the-other-Tim (guitar), Peter (bari sax), Sam (trumpet synth) and vocalists Toria and Dick.

The set list included "Stolen Moments," "Stompin' at the Savoy," "Hot 'Lanta," "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To," "Don't Get Around Much Any More," "Corcovado," "I Thought About You," "What Is This Thing Called Love," "Now's The Time," "I Should Care," "Besame Mucho," "Nature Boy," "Footprints," "Have You Met Miss Jones." After this some of us started packing up, but Toria, the-other-Tim, Ron and maybe Peter played one more song. I can't remember the name of the song but it sounded nice and spare compared to the full-on roar of eight instruments on every tune.

I left my camera at home so no photos this week, sorry!

Next week we will be at it again, starting about 5:30 and running until 8:00 or so. According to Toria, Annie will be back with us next week.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Park Building Closures

There was some discussion about whether the McRae Park building would be open this week. According to the MPRB web site, the building should be open this week but will be closed the last Thursday in August and the first Thursday in September. I thought I'd post this in hopes that I won't forget when the time comes...

Going to Summer (Jazz) Camp

I mentioned in yesterday's post that I had attended the Tritone Fantasy Jazz Camp near Bailey's Harbor WI. This was an excellent experience in learning about jazz with a top-notch group of instructors and a wonderful student body. I wrote up a description of the week.

As I also mentioned yesterday, while at Tritone I found out that the Jazz Workshop here at McRae Park is a pretty unique thing. The Workshop offers an opportunity to learn to play jazz by playing jazz. Come on out and give it a try!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

No news is no news

I missed last Thursday's workshop because I was out of town at the week-long Tritone Jazz Camp in Door County WI, so I have no report about the Thursday session. Hopefully someone who was there will be able to mention what happened.

In other news:

While I was at Tritone, Sam Fiske called on the morning on Thursday to talk about the schedule for the Freedom Jazz Festival, our time slots and to begin roughing out a set list. Then about fifteen hours later he forwarded the announcement that the FJF was cancelled for this year. Unfortunately funding and person-power concerns resulted in the organizers not being able to go forward with the festival. This is quite a loss for the local jazz community because the FJF features local jazz musicians. The Jazz Workshop and the FJF are closely related, both having been started by Sam Favors; Sam's wife, Annie, carries on his legacy with the Jazz Workshop and a dedicated core of people carry on the FJF. Here's hoping that funding can be secured for 2011!

Speaking of Annie, we're hoping that she is back on her feet and up to full speed soon!

The Jazz Workshop is a unique opportunity for people of all ages to develop their jazz abilities. This was brought home to me this week at Tritone, studying with 40+ other jazz musicians of varying ability and experience and a crackerjack faculty. A lot of my fellow campers have little or no opportunity to play jazz except at things like jazz camps- there are few community resources for exploring this music in most cities. Thanks to the vision of Sam Favors, here in the Twin Cities we can play jazz every week with like-minded folks. After talking with a number of the campers about this, there may be jazz workshops springing up around the country based on Sam's idea.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Back Of The Flash

In early June the Jazz Workshop played at the McRae Park Family Fun Day. Since it rained pretty much the entire day, "Family Rain Day" would have been a better name. Vocalist Matt Ash braved the rain to get out and take some pictures of the band, as well as serving as our ears for checking the PA balance. Here are some of his photos:

This is the stage setup which is on a semi-trailer with the sound system built in and a roof over the performers. It works pretty well. I think this is owned by either the City of Minneapolis or by the Minneapolis Parks Department. You can see the trailer at a lot of events in Minneapolis. This is the whole band- since Matt in in the photo, it must have been taken by his intrepid wife. In the front row is the horn section- from left to right Wes, Luke, Sam, Ira and Peter. Then there are three of the vocalists: Annie, Toria and Dick. Behind them are the rhythm section instruments plus Matt, who can be seen in between Wes and Luke. You can't see guitarist Craig, who is sitting next to Matt, nor Gene the drummer. You can barely see keyboardist Paul and you can see guitarists Tim and Bob.

The foundation of jazz is the rhythm section- the interaction between the bass and the drums. Here are Max (bass), Gene (drums) and Craig (guitar).

The other chordal instruments at the gig: Paul (keyboards), Tim (guitar) and Bob (guitar).

Here's a band's eye view. You can't see the rain falling down but that's why there aren't any of the usual games and events going on in the field. Almost everyone was huddled under the eaves of the building or inside.

Well, there you have it. Thanks to Matt for the photos!

Summertime Samba

There was another session of the Jazz Workshop on 7/8/10, which should come as no surprise to anyone since it happens almost every week throughout the year. It was a nice warm day and thankfully free of rain (we've had nearly 8 inches of rain at my house since June 1st. I found moss growing behind my left ear a few days ago).

Eleven people got together this week: Max (bass), Gene (drums), Sam (trumpet), Bronco (tenor sax), Wes (tenor sax), Josh/Tim 1/Tim 2 (guitars) and vocalists Matt, Dick and Toria.

The set list included "Take Five," "Ornithology," "Mood Indigo," "I Should Care," "Embraceable You," "Wave," "Cheek to Cheek," "Besame Mucho," "Dream," "Summer Samba," "Change Partners," "Moonlight In Vermont," "Don't Blame Me," "Well You Needn't."

We'll be back at it next week. I say "we" but it won't be "me" as I will be out of town to the Tritone Jazz Camp in Door County WI for the week. But there will be jazzers there, so you should come on over and play with us. It is possible that the park building will be closed on 7/22/10 and thus no workshop on that date; we need to check into that.

In the photos: That's Wes on top with his tenor sax (Wes took up the sax after retiring and has been playing about 3-4 years). In the middle photo are Max (bass) and Josh (guitar). Max built both of the basses in the picture, a four string and a six string. For the six string he even wound his own pickups! Josh was playing with us for the second time. The bottom photo is Bronco (tenor sax) and Sam (trumpet). Sam is a long-time member of the workshop and plays in many bands, including Papa John Kolstad and the Hot Club of East Lake- check 'em out on Saturday evenings and Merlin's Rest.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

On time and still a dollar short

Well, I missed the workshop tonight due to work. Maybe someone will tell me what happened and I can pass it along in another post.