Thursday, December 22, 2016

December 17, 2016

Because of the holidays, we will not be meeting for the next two weeks.
Our next encounter will take place Saturday, January 7, 2017 at the Hook and Ladder, Minnehaha and Lake in Minneapolis. Set-up at 2:30, play 3 to 6 PM. 

We are extremely grateful that the management of TowerLight has been so gracious as to let us play in the basement theater for the past few months. In return, we gathered in the lobby of TowerLight to play for whoever wanted to sit and listen, or happened to be passing by, for two hours on Saturday afternoon. Turns out, you could hear us down in the kitchen as well, and the reviews weren't bad. On hand were Sam (trumpet), Serdar (guitar), Jack D (trumpet), yours truly (alto), Tim (drums), Annie (vocals), Carl (trombone). Special guest appearance by Optimum Trajectory's Chip M, a former Workshopper who took over the bass duties. And Tim's wife also filled in for part of the second half on piano. We hope she joins us in the future.

Annie and Carl had to leave after the first hour, so we got all the singing done up front. In the second half, all instrumentals. Unfortunately, I did not keep track of which songs we played, but it was quite a few off our standard Christmas repertoire. The listeners were very kind and appreciative.

Some holiday favorites:

Baby It’s Cold Outside (original from the movie Neptune’s Daughter (1949), with  side by side versions by Esther Williams and Ricardo Montalban, and Betty Garrett and Red Skelton.

Debbie Duncan and Dennis Spears, I Love The Winter Weather/Baby It’s Cold Outside

Oscar Peterson, God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen

Tony Bennett/ Count Basie Orchestra, I’ll Be Home For Christmas


December 10, 2016

Preparation time for our appearance before actual people in the lobby at TowerLight on Dec. 17. Sam (bass, trumpet), Tim (guitar, drums), Steve M. (alto), Jack D. (trumpet), Steve H. (alto), Wes (tenor, clarinet), Carl (trombone), Annie (vocals), Ray (bass), Serdar (guitar) and Greg (guitar) all showed up at various times. The surfeit of guitar players eventually got Tim to take up his natural position at drums, and Ray's coming off the bench to fill in for a few tunes despite his recovering from injuries gave Sam some time on the trumpet.

Not going to get too descriptive today. We started out with a few non-Christmas tunes: Little Boat (I-245), Have You Met Miss Jones (I-172), and Beautiful Love (I-40). Then we got rolling on Christmas songs in preparation for 12/17. We covered Silver Bells, Merry Christmas Baby, The Christmas Song, Let It Snow, Feliz Navidad, Winter Wonderland, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, I'll Be Home For Christmas, Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.


Thursday, December 8, 2016

December 3, 2016

The Workshop will be performing for the residents of TowerLight on Saturday, December 17, from noon to 2pm.

Workshop this Saturday, Dec. 10, 11-3 in basement theater of Towerlight.

An interesting mixed bag of songs--a bit of Christmas, a bit of the old standards. Joining in the fun this week were Sam (bass), Steve M (alto), Bob (trombone) Jack D (trumpet), newcomer Tim (guitar), Serdar (guitar), Annie (vocals), Carl (trombone), and Steve H (alto). 

Sam kicked things off with Bye Bye Blackbird (II-73). Bob dipped into the Christmas song list with The Christmas Song (C-38). Steve M chose How Deep Is The Ocean (III-150). A bit of the blues from Jack D, calling Bags' Groove (II-30). Yours truly was in the spirit of the season, pulling out Let It Snow! (C-122). Tim joined in with a quiet rendition of White Christmas. 

Back around to Sam again, he surprised us as usual (and if it is usual, is it a surprise?) with Once I Loved (I-311). Serdar was looking forward since two weeks ago to take another run at Softly As In A Morning Sunrise (II-355). Bob decided to go with a shorter tune, with St. James Infirmary (II-338). 

By this time Annie and Carl had arrived, and since we had to pull out by 2:00, we had Annie call all the rest of them. She started out with an oldie, "Deed I Do (III-92). We went Christmas again, doing a reprise on The Christmas Song, only this time without a lot of instrumental solos. For something a bit more upbeat, Annie chose Don't Blame Me (I-121). It Never Entered My Mind (III-205) was the next call. We finished our time together with Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (C-174).

Friday, December 2, 2016

November 26, 2016

Next Meeting Saturday, December 3 at TowerLight, 11am-3pm.

Serdar says that he has been unable to secure the Hook and Ladder before our Dec. 19 gig in the lobby area of TowerLight, so we will have our next several rehearsals there.

We had a small crew, with only Serdar (guitar) carrying the rhythm. Sam had to leave very early, so he only brought his trumpet. Jack D also brought his trumpet; he was accompanied by Wes on tenor, and yours truly on alto.

We played songs from the Christmas songbook we have compiled over a number of years, some of which are also found in the Real Book Christmas edition, though not always with the same changes, and sometimes not even the same key.

Sam left at noon. When no vocalists arrived by 1:30, the rest of us finished up with that Christmas classic, Blue Bossa.


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

November 19, 2016

Next Meeting, Saturday, Nov. 26, 11am-3pm at TowerLight.

We tried out a new venue this week: the Hook and Ladder, on Minnehaha just below Lake in Minneapolis. A sizeable crowd made an appearance: Sam (bass), Carl (trombone), Annie (vocals), Steve M. (alto), Jack D (trumpet), Jim D (alto and clarinet), Wes (tenor), Dick (vocals) and Steve H (alto).

Annie kicked things off with East of the Sun, West of the Moon (III-104). Sam followed with something warm us up in a chilly house, St. Thomas (II-339). Dick to the lead next with Mean To Me (III-274).

After a bit of discussion about our preferences for TowerLight vs. Hook and Ladder, we returned to playing. Serdar wanted to try a song he hadn't played before, Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise (II-375). Annie called for I Remember Clifford (I-192), but we had a really hard time getting that one off the ground, so she switched to I'm Beginning To See The Light (I-207). Yours truly stumbled across a Charlie Parker blues, Blue Bird (III-53), which was a good tune for everyone to get involved in. Dick asked for one he's been working on recently, Doxy (II-111). Carl also stumbled across a blues no one had heard, Bags and Trane (II-29), with an interesting call and response written right into it.

Back to singers, Annie decided on I Don't Stand A Ghost Of A Chance (I-173). Bob didn't want to spend time looking for a tune, so Wes jumped in with his current favorite, Donna Lee (I-123), but down-tempo. Dick took a vocal on In A Mellow Tone (I-200). Steve M liked the looks of Beautiful Love (I-40), and we didn't sound too bad on it either. Annie did a slow, slinky version of Honeysuckle Rose (II-167). Jim decided on his turn that he was going to sing, and gave that a go on Time After Time (III-408). Nobody dared to follow that.

Though a simple majority of those present opted to return to the Hook and Ladder, it was not available for next week, so we return to TowerLight next week. We will also be playing a Christmas selection in the lobby on December 17 from noon to 2:00 pm.

Participant's Picks

Charlie Parker

Milt Jackson and John Coltrane
Bags and Trane

Zoot Sims
Softly, As In  A Morning Sunrise

Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins



Tuesday, November 15, 2016

November 5, 2016

This day turned into one more of conversation about plans than playing, but that's how it goes when you're in transition. Sam (bass, trumpet), Jack D (trumpet), Jack K (trumpet, drums), Steve H (alto) and Wes (tenor) were present in by noon.

Sam thought he'd really workshop us by bringing in several off-book (i.e., off-Real Book) songs, all in concert key so that we would have to transpose. We started with Hoagy Carmichael's New Orleans. After struggling our way through that--it really is a decent tune--Jack D requested Beautiful Love (I-40). Yours truly always wanted to play the lovely Johnny Hodges vehicle, Ellington's Warm Valley (II-412); it was worth the effort. Jack K wanted to play some trumpet after time on the skins, so he chose My Foolish Heart (I-286), and I tapped out a beat on the hi hat. Sam had another tune, another 1920's bit called Melancholy, which we gave a solid try. At this point, Sam and the Jacks had to pull up stakes. Wes and I played through Donna Lee a few times. Annie and Carl arrived just in time to find the rhythm section on the way out the door, so we did not continue.

Participant Picks

New Orleans (Hoagy Carmichael)
Two very different versions. That’s Art Pepper playing alto on the first one, but Hoagy himself on the vocal.
The second more as you expect it—and yet not—from Al Hirt.

Hornheads Five Heads Are Better Than One

Warm Valley (Johnny Hodges)



November 12, 2016

Next Workshop: Saturday, November 19, at the Hook and Ladder, Minnehaha and Lake, Minneapolis. Set-up 2:30, play 3-5:30, clear out by 6:00. 

Fewer people than last week, but a much more productive day. Sam (bass), Steve H (alto), Wes (tenor), Carl (trombone) and Annie (vocals) were the players of record.

Somehow, I got the first two calls, so we played two side-by-side, the ballad Smoke Gets In Your Eyes (II-354), and a medium swing version of Softly As In A Morning Sunrise (II-355). Sam changed the mood soon enough with Monk's In Walked Bud (II-200). Time for Wes to choose, and we played Along Came Betty (I-22). Back to me, I pulled out the languid and bluesy Creole Love Call (III-88). Sam did another side-by-side, and picked Cry Me A River (III-89). Donna Lee (I-123) was up next, one Wes really wants us to work on. Sam took the next one, and decided on Jordu (I-227). As Annie and Carl arrived and got settled, we played a Latin-y Here's That Rainy Day (I-175).

Annie got the singing portion of the day going with Time After Time (III-408), followed by You've Changed (III-463). Carl got the instrumental choice, going with Two Degrees East, Three Degrees West (II-408). We did a few more instrumentals, with Wes pulling out Ceora (I-72), then Sam's unexpected choice of That's Amore (I-404). We got back to Annie's vocals, first with There Will Never Be Another You (I-407). We tried to make a go of There'll Be Some Changes Made (I-408), but we had the hardest time getting the feel of the half-time beat without more rhythm (some things sound easier than they are on paper). We took an instrumental turn, with yours truly deciding finally on Take The A Train (I-398). Carl took another pick, this time Nostalgia In Times Square (I-306). Annie got the last two: Song For My Father (I-373 and thank goodness for my egg), and Isn't It Romantic (I-219).

Participant Picks

Creole Love Call (Duke Ellington, Adelaide Hall vocal)

Nostalgia In Times Square (Charles Mingus)

Jordu (Clifford Brown & Max Roach)