Monday, March 22, 2004

Vax Attax

I played the gig with Mike Vax tonight, and it was a good time--really loose, informal, small but enthusiastic crowd. It was jazz in its purest form, because we didn't rehearse a lick. The rhythm section--Kris and Kent and Drake from camp--was smokin' as always. We did a bunch of standards like "Things Ain't What They Used To Be" and "Blue Bossa" and the like, and he brought up a couple of local trumpeters to join him on one of his TRPTS arrangements (think the trumpet equivalent of Supersax) and then an impromptu "Blues Walk."

Vax hasn't lost a step after nearly fifty years in the business. He's kind of the polar opposite of Maynard in that he has plenty of high chops but is primarily a soloist. I learned a lot from being up there with him; the biggest thing was to remember the beauty and effectiveness of a really good melody, instead of just relying on those (admittedly cool) bop licks all the time. Oh, and one of the local trumpeters, a guy named Freddie Jones who plays all around the area, played a pocket trumpet and a flugelhorn, in harmony (4ths, to be exact), at the same time. Super freaky weird cool.

So yeah--a fun night. I didn't feel outclassed up there, actually liked portions of most of my solos, and was really "on" (especially for a Monday) concentration-wise, which I needed to be to catch all the little nuances (like matching him style- and inflection-wise on the heads) and curveballs (like when he threw me the bridge on "God Bless the Child"--a tune I don't know too well--and I had actually anticipated it and was prepared). It's too bad more people weren't there, but those who were had a good time. Seeing as how he was our guest artist at the festival a few years back, maybe this can become a recurring thing every few years.

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