Thursday, November 26, 2009

OLD SCHOOL

Don Mayberry, Steve Woods and Bert MyrickSunday at drummer RJ Spangler's Soul Jazz jam session,at the Cadieux Cafe,I watched you in amazement. Steve, I'm not trying to flatter you. You're just as good as Dexter Gordon was. I'm sure there're many jazz fans in Michigan who feel the same. You are old school tenor player. You’re rooted in the blues, and you like playing bop classics. I only planned to hear one set, but I stayed until 1:30am. When you soloed on "Society Red", Donna Lee", and "Central Park West", I consumed every note like pieces of chocolate.

I've heard you in different settings. Sunday was the first time with just a trio. How long have you played with drummer Nate Winn, and organist Duncan McMillan? You should record the trio. Winn has grown. I also enjoyed meeting your friends. Trumpeter James O’Donnell, drummer RJ Spangler and I chatted about missing the late trumpeter Russell Green. And how interesting was that conversation we had with keyboard player Phil Hale? Do you remember his hypothetical question?

If Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus, Miles Davis, and Ornette Coleman played the same day at different clubs, and we could only attend one concert, which would we go to? I was surprised we chose Charlie Parker. I figured his band would give the best performance. However, If the show were sold-out, Coleman's concert would've been my backup. When Coleman created buzz in the late 50's he sounded a lot like Parker and Don Cherry like Dizzy. Hale disagreed, pointing out Cherry had a wild streak, and Dizzy did not.

I suggested Hale listen closely to Cherry on Coleman's 1958 album Something Else. I had a similar disagreement with a close friend. With that album, he believed Coleman broke new ground. I argued Something Else was a be bop album with a heavy emphasis on harmony and little attention to melody. Before Hale and I could discuss the matter further, Spangler started the second set, dedicating it to Russell Green. The drummer is a sweetheart. I was thrilled to meet him. The jam session was different from other. At the other sessions, I felt like another face in the crowd. Spanglers' session was like being at a family reunion.
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