A view from a basement club

Just returned from an amazing week in Saskatoon Canada, performing and teaching at their jazz festival.  The concerts with the Outer Bridge Ensemble felt great – thanks for coming out everyone.  Here’s a glimpse of the last day….

1.   Students play an amazing concert where they performed pieces by Lee Morgan, Duke Ellington, Thelonius Monk, and also original pieces that grooved hard, including a piece with someone improvising slam poetry style which brought down the house.

2.  As everyone is about to leave the club, the manager asks a few of us to stay to hear Jack Ashford speak to a small intimate crowd.  “Who’s Jack Ashford,” I thought to myself.

I decided to stick around, which was a good thing.  An elderly man swaggered up to the stage.  It was just him and a local radio personality – two mikes and two chairs.

Jack Ashford was a founding member of the Funk Brothers, who basically backed up nearly all of the hit motown stars coming out of Detroit like Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, the Temptations, the Four Tops, Diana Ross, etc…  To hear about the history of motown from an original cast member was something to remember.  He spoke of many joyous memories, some bittersweet, some difficult things that you learn to reconcile many years later, and plenty of real happy ones.  Thank you Jack for being so open and honest and generous.

3.  A couple hours later, I had a chance to talk shop with Benny Green, a great pianist who did a solo show a couple hours later at the same club…..also a very generous person.

It’s great speaking about piano heros like Ray Bryant, who may not have made the cover People magazine, but he will always be royalty in the jazz community.

4.  Outer Bridge Ensemble then performed later that night, the music had a real buoyancy that night…and it was just plain a good time.

Look out for a new OBE recording to be released January 2013!

Thanks to everyone in Saskatoon, more in a bit,

Steve

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