Thursday, September 23, 2010

SWING MADE EASY

Tenor Saxophonist Ernie KrivdaI’m in hot water again. Ernie, I promised my wife money to have her hair styled this weekend. I’m a little short, and you're partly the blame. I caught part one of your album release party at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café’ Wednesday night. Some of the money I promised my wife I spent on your new recording “Ernie Krivda and the Detroit Jazz Connection Live at the Dirty Dog”. Last year,I heard the tail end of your set at the Detroit International Jazz Festival. I wanted to experience your Detroit Connection band at a smaller venue, so the Dirty Dog was perfect.

The turnout for a weeknight surprised me. I set at the bar next to a jerk. He was tipsy and he yapped the entire time the band played “The End of a Love Affair”. He obviously ignored the sign posted at the bar, asking customers to keep quiet during the performance. The jerk finally shut up when pianist Claude Black soloed. Black has been around forever. He’s still sharp, and has the longest fingers I’ve never seen. Smoke issued from the piano keys after his soloing on “Blues by Any Other Name” and Sonny Rollins’ ditty “St. Thomas”.

Drummer Renell Gonsalves and bassist Dan Kolton are reliable role-players. Both put in some overtime setting up your cadenzas on “All the Things Your Are” and “You Stepped Out of a Dream”. The crowd was lively, especially the little girl who hung out with her parents. Did you see her? She held a small stuffed animal, and danced off key but enthusiastically. Her folks were there for the chow. It’s a shame they left before the set concluded because obviously she wanted to hear the entire performance. .

To borrow Dale Turner’s expression--the troubled character saxophonist Dexter Gordon portrayed in the movie “’Round Midnight”-- you played sweetly. Your manner was engaging. You looked animated. For instance, when you soloed on a medium tempo number, you leaned forward and poured the music out your horn. On up-tempo tunes, you wrestled with the sax as if it wanted to jump out your hands. When your sidemen had their moments, you closed your eyes. You, swayed back and forth as though you felt every note they culled from their instruments. Like the great tenor saxophonists Ike Quebec, Jimmy Forrest, and Arnett Cobb, you know how to work ballads. Overall, your band made swinging look easy. Ernie, maybe my wife will read my comments and forgive me for spending a portion of the cash I promised her.
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