I only had five hours of sleep last night, but it was totally worth it, because I got to see John Fedchock play with the Two O'Clock at the Syndicate. The former Woody Herman sideman, who now leads his own New York-area big band, is also an amazing trombonist, and last night's show featured generous helpings of both his writing and playing.
Fedchock is a formidable presence on stage; at around 6'5", he's one of the three tallest trombonists I've ever seen (the other two being Conrad Herwig and my friend Dingus). Yet in stark contrast to his height, his sound is deliberate and controlled, with many of his solos starting at a near-whisper volume, drawing the listener in closely in the process. But make no mistake--he has the dazzling mix of technique and high chops that's expected of a top-tier trombonist, but it's all run through a filter of style and taste.
I've been a fan of Fedchock's writing since his Herman days, and the charts he played with the Two delivered as promised every time. My personal favorites were his take on "Ceora" and a brand-new (as in first played two weeks ago) Afro-Cuban rendering of Trane's "Moment's Notice." A big highlight of the evening was when Fedchock did a friendly duel with Two O'Clocker Aric Schneller (a doctoral student who first played in my Six O'Clock band when he was in master's school) on the original "Jay Birds" (a tribute to J.J. Johnson, who took the bebop of Bird and adapted it to the trombone). When the obligatory trading of choruses turned into a collective jam, those of us in the audience could only break out amazed laughter in response to what was going on onstage.
So all in all, it was a great night of music. I had the delusion that I was going to only stay for the first half (thinking of a 14-hour teaching day today, as well as the prospect of severe storms after midnight for the drive home), but I knew after about one chart that this was a concert to see in its entirety. I was also mentally kicking myself for not having enough cash to buy one of his CD's that he had for sale up there (he was also packing a Sharpie for autograph purposes), but I'll get one from here, and you should too. I hope to catch the whole New York band on the inevitable future IAJE trip.
Speak softly, and take away their big stick: This is my nominee for hero of the week: Charlotte Johnson. The single mom from Ft. Worth was taking her daughter to school on Monday when she decided to stop at McDonald's. The place was crowded, and she found herself temporarily blocking the driveway as . Somebody in another car became irate with her and went after her with a baseball bat, and, during the struggle which ensued, she took the guy's bat away and whacked him upside the head with it. Johnson has been playing recreational softball for the past 13 years, so her effort at self defense went out of the park, as it were.
Baby got break: Yesterday morning, for no reason, one of my sixth-graders launched into a parody of Sir Mix-a-Lot's "Baby Got Back" when the subject of spring break came up: "I love spring break and I can not lie, you otha brothas can't deny...". It was especially funny to hear this particular kid, who doesn't look the least bit like a rap fan, just start freestyling like that in the middle of a lesson.
Commentary: Thanks for all the comments on the previous post; they've hit double digits already (UPDATE: A day later, it's up to 15!). I'm still not sure when the big purchase will take place, but I do appreciate the feedback.