When I was younger, my wild friend Kevin( trombonist) said “ you know you are a real musician if you have a gig on New Year’s Eve. ” Most years, I did not. Something is changing. For the second year in a row, I got to play a New Year’s Eve gig at the Black Dog Café and wine bar, with Nathan ( saxophones) , Brian( bass) and Pete ( drums) , joined by Cory on cello.
I had a lot of fun. First of all, we had an audience, who wanted to be there, who listened. The black piano was ready to play- and so were the guys. We connected well to the audience, and had many musical adventures.
What is really funny is: this was the first time this ensemble had ever played together. Now, I have played with Nathan and Brian off and on since the mid 90’s ( when we all lived in the Frogtown Family lofts), played with Pete I think three times, and recently started doing duets and trios with Cory this fall. Brian and Cory have played together, and Nathan and Cory, but I don’t think Pete and Cory have played before.
But we all understood each other. We did one chart of mine which was a waltz… ( followed certain chords) but the rest, came from brief musical gestures which took off. I drew on new material, and sketch I began 20 years ago on bass m’bira. Several times Brian and Cory did expansive bass/cello duets- Pete amazed me with his mercurial grooves which kept evolving. Nathan opened up the room with his sound, and took folks with him. Everyone listened, and layed out at times.
It’s really funny, when people ask me about “ my band.” ( which one?) It’s simply not that monogamous. Everyone plays with everyone else, in various contexts. It is very promiscuous- everyone wants to play with the new bass player!
Maybe it is different in rock and roll, or wedding bands that make a lot of cash.
Herbie Hancock once said ( paraphrased) that there are three important factors in playing music.
1) Are the musicians making good money?
2) Are the musicians creating good music?
3) Are the musicians friends?
Mr Hancock speculated that two of those factors will keep a group playing together. I have made a few dollars playing music.- not enough to live on. I have been fortunate, so fortunate, to be able to make great music with good friends.
I have a few gigs lined up this year: duets with Cory on the 6th, a trio with Cory and Andrew Foreman ( another bass player) on the 20th, and Brian plays with Carei Thomas, Paul Cantrell and myself Feb 3 and 5th. Yes, and sometime in February, I want to do more Duke Ellington tunes with David Edminster, who has that big tenor sound.
It is unclear when “ Open Season” will have another performance. I have faith that it will happen. I am so lucky to have a loving musical home at the Black Dog. I wish the best to all of you.