Tonight was the night: Kev "vs." Halfling in Foosball ...no, not the table game, but the awesome Lyle Mays chart called Overture to the Royal Mongolian Suma Foosball Festival. (It's from Lab '75 by the One O'Clock Lab Band, which should be a part of your collection if it's not already.) I've already chronicled the events leading up to tonight, but here's a recap: Everybody who's graduating from LMOJO this semester got to pick a feature tune, no matter what it was (the director later wondered if this was such a good idea). Halfling picked Foosball and asked me to do the tenor duel with him, and we got both the music and a borrowed tenor for him on the night of Lab Band Madness.
Of course, this ended up being probably the hardest thing on the concert. I knew that Halfling and I could play the head (which is somewhat note-y and all in unison), and Fizban and Dingus would learn it, but who knew beyond that. I got to go in twice and rehearse with the band; it was shaky in spots, but it was startlingly close to tempo and actually held together once we dissected a few things on Friday afternoon. This afternoon was just a run-through, but if "all's well that ends together," then all was well in this case. I joked with the percussionist that we absolutely had to have the gong for the very last note, and he promised to have it on stage.
The secret weapon in this whole thing was the improvised two-tenor cadenza, which Halfling and I had been formulating for the past month. One might wonder how much time would have to be spent on something that was supposed to be spontaneous...but we had to at least have a cool template, and we did. We did a brief call-and-response that came out of the lead-in chords, then launched into this funky little riff that one of us would play while the other soloed. The whole thing morphed into this ascending diminished-seventh thing that ended on a really high chord...it was cool. We just wanted to make sure that our randomness had a solid foundation, so we practiced it at every opportunity. But leading up to the concert, with Mother's Day and awards ceremonies and all that, our final polishing was relegated to a thirty-minute session a few hours before the concert. That seemed to be all we needed, as we felt good about it when I left.
The concert itself was almost as Dingus-sized as the college concert on Saturday, what with all the features and so forth. Dingus did "I'll Be Around" in a duel with his trombone teacher, an unassuming, quiet guy whom I've worked with for years but never heard improvise. He played nice, fluid lines as if they were a walk in the park, and Dingus held his own up there. Fizban did the Jobim classic Wave and showed a nice high register that I hadn't heard since our Renegade Improv sessions last year.
Finally it was time for me and Halfling. The band really pulled it off pretty well, sounding much stronger than in rehearsal. The 3/4 bars which are interspersed in there became 4/4 bars more often than not, but we just watched the director for a downbeat and went with it. Halfling played some great lines, and I pulled out a few new tricks too (we noticed the other night that we always bust out some of our best stuff whenever we share the stage). The cadenza came off pretty much like we wanted it to; it was Dingus-sized, but it was fun, and we even got the audience to clap on two and four during the riff part, at least until they got tired. It was blazingly hot under the stage lights, and I was spent when it was over. I'm sure the band was too; fortunately, we were near the end of the show. We all made a quick trip to Taco Cabana afterwards, but that was it...quick. It's hard to have jazz concerts on weeknights if you can't stay up and celebrate when it's done, because there's a whole lot of leftover adrenaline floating around; I know that's why I'm still awake at the moment.
So another big project is in the books. There are a lot more Kev-and-Halfling musical collaborations ahead, but this was a memorable one, and the little cadenza riff will take on a life of its own as part of my first funk tune, to be written in the near future. I can't wait to see the videotape; Halfling's already watched it and says it's great.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "If that had been any longer, I could've finished my master's degree."--Dingus, regarding the cadenza.