Wednesday, August 8: I started the series off with a set by the duo with Tim Daisy. This formation proves itself every time we play, the performances are always solid and evolving from wherever the music was at our last gig- there is much more to explore with this group. The Solaris Quartet took over for the second set, John Herndon and Mike Reed on drums, Dave Rempis and myself on baritone sax, playing the compositions of Sun Ra. Though Mike, Dave, and I have been dealing with those pieces together for a little while now, John stepped into the group buy fosamax medicine with only one rehearsal and did a super job interpreting the material, improvising, and rhythmically collaborating with Mike Reed. Ra’s tunes sound incredible with just the two baritones, the weight of those horns with the drums sound almost like a big band.
Thursday, August 9: The second night began with a solo set dedicated to Paul Rutherford, who had passed away far too soon a few days earlier. As with all of my concerts, I have a tendency to try and organize and prepare for the solo performances, creating material or specific pieces for each show, but on this night I chose to approach the music as Rutherford would, walking on stage and seeing what I might find once I got there. It was hard and unnerving, but the challenge proved to be exhilarating. I closed the set with Joe McPhee’s, “Goodbye Tom-B,” a small eulogy for a great artist. I was very lucky to have those few chances to play with Rutherford. Afterwards, the stage was packed by 4×4 and the room was saturated with sound. This was my first gig with Roebke in a long, long time, and the first concert that I’ve ever played with Greg Ward. Everyone in the group performed beautifully, the band got a lot of work done in two rehearsals, the pieces didn’t lock the band down; they were starting points, as they were meant to be. I will definitely return to this ensemble in the winter, after I get home from Europe. Just trying to decide if I should augment the group with some extra horns or keep it where it is…
Friday, August 10: Two sets with the Vandermark 5. In an interesting turn of events, the reverberant acoustics of the Velvet Lounge proved to be (for me anyway) most difficult with the groups that have done the most work together. Possibly it was because there were more points of reference for how the band “should” sound, I’m not sure. Our first set was a good one, working with pieces from the latest recording, but during the second set things began to unravel somewhat. We did a fine job playing segments from the “New York Suite,” (new compositions that will be added as a bonus disk to the upcoming studio release on Atavistic, “Beat Reader”), but towards the end of that material the neck on Dave Rempis’ tenor began to give way which made finishing the night difficult, to say the least. What are you going to do but make the best of it? And this is what we did.
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