Sunday, May 24, 2009

JAM SESSION MENTALITY

Dear James Frederick,

Two years have passed since I reviewed the Don Mayberry album release concert. My recollection of that evening is little foggy. I do, however, recall leaving the concert disappointed. Mayberry is one of my favorite jazz bassist. I've heard him perform on many occasions mostly as the late pianist Teddy Harris' right hand man.

Mayberry was always animated when he soloed. He closed his eyes, for example. Sweat beaded
on this forehead as he hummed the chord changes. He put his bass through a heavy workout. His bass was just as sweaty as the bassist's brow. After Mayberry soloed, his bass rested against his shoulder like its just completed its first day of boot camp.

That evening, however, his performance was unorganized, and I held the bassist accountable. It was a free-for-all. I bet I wasn't the only person there who felt that way. It was his special night.
It was his opportunity to introduce his new album "Kaleidoscope", a star studded two disc recording, to his many admirers who concern him one of the top jazz bassist on the planet. I recall writing Mayberry let us down. He could have done a better job.

Mr. Frederick, some Detroit jazz musicians have an unshakable jam session mentality. They treat every performance as if it’s that kind of session. That evening Mayberry it was obvious Mayberry winged it and the bassist did not rehearse with the musicians he assembled, which was unfortunate because there was some grade A jazz musicians in Mayberry's band. They seemed like amateurs and I thought it was necessary to point that out.

That was the first time I heard Kate Patterson sing. She was good I recall. However, it appeared Patterson tried to upstage vocalist Shahida Nurullah. I stand by that observation. In your email, you mentioned Patterson and Nurullah are friends. That night they behaved like rivals.

Mr. Frederick, I was unaware Patterson has been battling Leukemia. Her perseverance is commendable. It’s remarkable she's still able to perform. I apologize because I was unable to accept your invitation to hear Patterson at the Jazz Forum concert series, your yearly jazz series at the Grosse Pointe Unitarian Church, with her own band.

I received the invitation a few days after the fact. Next year, if Patterson is slated to closeout the series, and if your invite me again, I promise to attend. For what it’s worth, Mr. Frederick, save for Mayberry's album release party, I've thoroughly enjoyed every Jazz Forum concert I’ve attended.

Sincerely,
Charles L. Latimer
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