Just some catching up to do:
* Chick Corea is wrapping up an amazing--dare I say unprecedented run at the Blue Note club in New York city. Taking advantage of his 75th birthday, which was actually back in June, Chick has called in friends and collaborators from almost (but completely) every aspect of his career to do, literally, more shows than I can count in more styles than I can assimilate. Corea gets my vote for the most versatile composer/performer alive, and these shows--many of which were filmed--demonstrated that capacity beyond argument.
The shows include (get ready for a lot of names: The "Chick Corea Elektrik Band" with Chick on keyboards (as always) Eric Marienthal (saxes), Frank Gamble (guitar), John Patitucci (bass), Dave Weckl (drums). Next up was a Miles tribute with Kenny Garrett (saxes), Wallace Roney (trumpet), Mike Stern (guitar), Marcus Miller (bass), Brian Blade (drums). Then came the Three Quartets Band, Steve Gadd (drums), Eddie Gomez (bass), Ben Solomon (sax), the Leprechaun Band, Steve Gadd (drums), Gayle Moran Corea (vocals), Steve Wilson (sax & flute), Michael Rodriguez (trumpet), Steve Davis (trombone), Eddie Gomez (acoustic bass), some electronica experiments, a flamenco band, a show with the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra, 13-Piece Big Band (8 horns, guitar, bass & drums) from that city, a series of piano duets with Brad Mehldau, Herbie Hancock and Gonzalo Rubalcaba, a show with vibist Gary Burton and the Harlem String Quartet. These shows were followed by a show with the Origin II band which, was Ravi Coltrane (sax), Steve Wilson (sax & flute), Steve Davis (trombone), Carlitos Del Puerto (bass), Marcus Gilmore (drums), an acoustic set up of Return to Forever music with Coltrane and Hubert Laws (flute), Avishai Cohen (bass), Lenny White (drums), a duet with John McLaughlin, and another night of RTF music John McLaughlin (guitar), Victor Wooten (bass), Lenny White (drums), which ends this weekend.
I caught three of these shows. The one with the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra, the one with Gary Burton and the Harlem String Quartet and the allegedly acoustic RTF show that was not really all that acoustic. For each of these shows, the Blue Note was as packed as any room I've ever been in with an impressive $85 cover each night, with people lined up down the block every night for the late show as the early shows let out. The vibe was relaxed and friendly. Chick wore flannel shirts and jeans and joked around with the crowd as if he knew all of us. Some of the numbers were rehearsed, some were not, though I could not always tell the difference. I will always remember the version of "Round Midnight" that Chick arranged for Burton and the Harlem String Quartet which was soul-piercing in its beauty. The acoustic RTF show, which stuck almost exclusively to the band's first album, was a marvelous combination of band leaders submerging their egos into a single expressive element that, simultaneously embraced each's individuality and musical genius. And the Trondheim Orchestra, which was the one where someone else--a dude from Trondheim as it happens--arranged all Corea compositions anew had a marvelous spontaneity to it as it appeared that Chick had never seen some of them before playing them.
One is tempted to treat all of the styles embraced above as a gimmick but that would not be accurate at all. Each of them brought out a different aspect of Corea's genius, which is both casually worn, and unspeakably impressive when considered as whole. I look forward to the inevitable multi-volume dvd/cd releases, where I can watch and listen with a little more legroom.
* Jazz@LC is hosting an extremely interesting show this weekend featuring Steve Miller and Jimmie Vaughan playing tribute to the great T-Bone Walker. Some music historians choose Walker as "the founding father of electric blues guitar." For instance Pete Welding argues that "no one has contributed as much as long or as variously to the blues as he has. Miller, many people don't know, began as a striaghtforward white blues guy; his godfather was literally Les Paul. He spent much of his youth in Chicago playing with Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Buddy Guy, Paul Butterfield, and James Cotton. Like Vaughan, he hails from Texas and the combination of these two influences, joined by his own simultaneously catchy, energetic and also mellow/spacey oeuvre makes for an extremely interesting and satisfying combination. In addition to Vaughan the band features, B-3 organist Mike Flanigin, the awesome vocalist Brianna Thomas, pianist Shelly Berg, alto saxophonist/clarinetist Patrick Bartley, tenor saxophonist Craig Handy, baritone saxophonist Lauren Sevian, trumpeter Mike Rodriguez, bassist Yasushi Nakamura, and former Earth Wind & Fire drummer Sonny Emory.
* Next weekend marks another set of Jazz@LC Big Band shows, wth
Wynton Marsalis, Music Director and Saxophonist Sherman Irby and Guest Vocalist Catherine Russell. These are always fun, and I look forward to them every year; they combine a sense of playfulness with the innovation and creative expression that mark every Jazz@LC orchestra performance. The shows begin on the evening of December 14, but on Sunday afternoon, December 18 they are
offering their first "Relaxed Performance" of the show. These shows are designed "to provide families with children or adults with autism, learning difficulties or other sensory and communication needs the opportunity to enjoy Jazz at Lincoln Center performances in a more relaxed environment." What a great idea, huh? Kudos to the folks at the orchestra for taking into account the rarely met needs of this deserving but underserved audience.
This Relaxed Performance will include:
• Adjustments to sound and lighting in the production
• Free support resources to assist families prepare for the theater visit
• On site trained staff and volunteers
• Designated quiet areas where families can view the concert on a HD screen
As with the above, they take place in the Rose Theater. More info at jazz.org
* Finally, my friends at Shout! Factory have given us a new version of the T.A.M.I. Show on Blu-ray and paired it with its long-lost follow-up, The Big TNT Show. on December 2, 2016, as part of the 2-disc Blu-ray set T.A.M.I. Show / The Big T.N.T. Show Collector's Edition, from Shout! Factory. (The Big TNT Showwill also be released as a standalone DVD on the same day.) It's got bonus features from the T.A.M.I. Show DVD, plus new interviews with The Big T.N.T. Show performers Petula Clark, Henry Diltz and John Sebastian, and a 36-page booklet featuring detailed essays by Don Waller, rare photos, and memorabilia.
I know you know what the T.A.M.I. Show is. But what is The Big T.N.T. Show you ask? Filmed in Los Angeles in November of 1965, it was apparently conceived as a follow-up with the Byrds, in their original line-up of Gene Clark, David Crosby, Chris Hillman, Michael Clarke, and Roger McGuinn, Ray Charles, The Ronettes, The Lovin' Spoonful, Petula Clark, Donovan, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Joan Baez, and Bo Diddley with The Ike & Tina Turner Revue shutting down the show. Both shows are mastered from a new High-Definition transfer
Finally, finally, I've been taking advantage of a wonderful Pedro Aldomovar festival at the Museum of Modern Art. I've seen most of these films before, but forgotten most of what happens in them and cannot say how enjoyable, gorgeous and thought-provoking almost all of them are. Check them out if you can