Sunday, September 19, 2004

Kev and Halfling's Excellent Concert Adventure

The scenario: Two cool shows happening on the same night last night: The Yellowjackets, featuring tenor titan Bob Mintzer, at a free festival in Ft. Worth, and the Earl Harvin Trio's once-a-year-at-best performance at the Gypsy Tea Room in Deep Ellum.

The goal: Halfling and I decided to try and see 'em both. After all, both places are right off I-30, albeit about 25 miles apart. Since Earl usually plays deep into the night, it was actually possible to pull this off.

The evening: We left for Ft. Worth right after the TD/D horn rehearsal. Despite pulling up to the Will Rogers complex at 9:45 for a 9:30 concert, we were banking on the conventional wisdom that jazz concerts never start on time, and sure enough, they were doing final mic checks when we got there.

Even though the Yellowjackets fall under the "fusion' category, they play what I would call "fusion with integrity." Quite a bit of their newer stuff sounded like an updated version of late-80's Miles. Despite the jazz/rock amalgam and the shorter, tightly-structured tunes (which are more melody-driven rather than being extended blowing vehicles), there was an amazing level of musicianship on that stage. Mintzer, of course, is one of our finest living tenor players (his ability on the horn may sometimes get overshadowed by the prominence of his writing and big-band leadership), and Jimmy Haslip plays the bass in a guitaristic style a la Jaco. Keyboardist Russ Ferrante played mostly acoustic piano, adding synth touches when needed, and new (to me) drummer Marcus Baylor laid down solid grooves and exhibited tremendous chops on a back-and-forth with Haslip. Mintzer also made good use of the EWI, which I hadn't heard played live since I saw Michael Brecker at Caravan of Dreams during college. It provided a cool array of unconventional timbres and sounded great in the hands of a master.

It was already a cool night, since it was Halfling's first time to see Mintzer live, but our ears really perked up when they announced that the band would be signing CD's after the show. We made our way up to the table quickly at the end of the last tune. We checked out our wallets and found out that we had at least $15 apiece, which would cover most CD's we'd seen being sold at concerts. As we got closer to the table, we found out that, of the CD's was a double and went for $25, and the other one was priced at $20. D'oh! We hurried over to the little "midway" in search of an ATM, and, while we found two, one of them was already being opened up for service and the other one was just plain out of order. What were we to do?

Well, we did the obvious thing: pool our resources, since we had enough for one CD between us (we opted for the live Mint Jam, since it's self-produced and harder to find). We got to tell Mintzer that we were fellow saxophonists, and that I had seen him at UNT back in the day and that Halfling went there now. As we finished getting autographs from the rest of the group, a disembodied, familiar voice told us to look up and smile--it was Mooney, who was there taking pictures during the festival. As we were walking out, we got this crazy idea: suppose Mooney took our picture with the whole band? He was down with it, as was the band, so it happened...

Part of Team Demon/Dingus meets all of the Yellowjackets: Seated (L to R): Russell Ferrante, Marcus Baylor. Standing (L to R): Me, Halfling, Bob Mintzer, Jimmy Haslip. (photo by Donald Mooney)

The night could have been called a success at that point on its own. But Earl beckoned (ok, not him personally, heh). It took us a bit to find one of our banks so we could replace the cash spent on the CD, and then we realized on the way over, "oh no, we have to park in Deep Ellum on a Saturday night!" *shudder* Sure enough, that took a while, as we circled the block while I attempted (in vain) to call the Tea Room to see how much longer Earl would be playing, as it was approaching 1:00 by this point. "Circling the block" then took on new meaning as we meandered through downtown streets (at one point going the wrong way on a one-way...thankfully, there was no oncoming traffic), going over the road we needed to be on and ending up in a nice little enclave of new houses that was nowhere near where we needed to be. Eventually, we got back and decided to bite the bullet and pay the six bucks for close-in parking. We got there for about the last fifteen minutes of the show (ten of which consisted of the trio vamping on a single eerie chord), but we did run into my old buddy C-Rod while we were there, and Halfling got a little taste of the group, who hopefully won't wait another year before playing there again.

We capped off a great evening with a trip to Cafe Brazil (the one in Richardson, which is thankfully open 24 hours on weekends now). Even if we didn't make it to equal amounts of both concerts, getting to see Mintzer made up for the imbalance in a big way. Next Saturday, we'll be the ones on stage (OK, in the corner of a coffeehouse, if you want to get technical), hoping to provide even a fraction of the enjoyment that was provided to us last night. But hey, ya gotta start somewhere...

Avast there, ye scurvy dog: Today was the annual Talk Like a Pirate Day, but being a Sunday, there wasn't much of a chance to do that. However, perhaps to make up for my slacker-osity, G did an entire post in pirate today. I suppose I could have tried talking in pirately fashion with the cashiers at Super Tarrrget or Starrrbucks, though...

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