random bright moments – air saxophone, tony bennett, and the thankful man of saskatoon

Just returned from playing with the Outer Bridge at the Saskatchewan Jazz Festival in Canada.  It was great seeing so many old friends and talking to new ones – thanks for coming out everyone – what a week!  As the plane touched down in Newark today I was thinking about the past couple weeks and these collections of bright moments.

One thing that stands out was playing a private show a couple weeks ago in Coney Island at a home for elderly folks with disabilities.  During my solo on one tune I noticed someone singing along in the audience.  Actually he wasn’t sing along, he was soloing.  The solo was quickly turning into a duet.  The elderly woman next to the singing man rolled her eyes, but he didn’t care he just kept scatting his solo while playing his air saxophone.  Under other circumstances, the whole scene could have been weird but then and there, it all felt completely natural.   He later told me he played saxophone in the village years ago, and then he starting talking about Charlie Parker.  The music gave him such a light happy spirit….definitely a bright moment.

Premiering music that Claire Daly and I cowrote at Dizzy’s was a thrill (www.clairedalymusic.com).  Claire ‘s playing was so inspiring that whole week.  Before we went on one night, I noticed Tony Bennet at a table.  I told him how much I admired his work and how his pianist Ralph Sharon so brilliantly accompanied him.  There was this tune called “He Loves, She Loves” which is one of my favorite ballads they did.  At his table he had a small notepad where he was sketching some artwork.  All I could think of was that he had such a youthful and curious spirit, somewhat similar to the saxophonist at Coney Island in a way……which leads me to the Thankful Man.

A few days ago in Canada the Outer Bridge was scheduled to play after the Robert Glasper Trio at the Bassment Jazz Club.  As Jerome and I walked into the club, a man with a black bushy beard, a black hat, a black suit and tie and said he wanted us to play a tango with him tonight after our performance.  Fast forward a few hours and we invited him to the stage where he has some lyrics scribbled on a napkin, and then we started the tune….a sort of call and response thing in d minor with a tango feel….I have never heard anyone sing with that kind of passion and deep raw emotion.  It was a beautiful thing.  You could hear his story through the music, the joy, the scars, the dreams, and everything in between.  When we asked him his name, he said “The Thankful Man.”  After that night I felt like changing my name to the thankful man as well.  If I can find any audio or video of the performance….I’ll throw it up on the site.

I’ll be posting some exciting footage of the Steve Hudson Chamber Ensemble, the Mary Joyce Project: Noting to Lose, and the Outer Bridge in the coming days.  See you soon.









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