We travelled a few hours from Grass Valley to Santa Rosa

Posted on March 12th, 2014 | 1

On Sunday, we travelled a few hours from Grass Valley to Santa Rosa. This was the 5th straight gig, not necessarily difficult on paper, but when connected to 4 or 5 hour drives that become 7 due to the unforeseen, and you drive through lunch, and your room is not ready until whenever someone says, and the soundcheck is at 5, and you have 5 tunes to review, and…whew! The execution can be much rougher than the dream.

Yes, we played the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts. It’s always great to play here because the audience is enthusiastic and informed. I remember us, maybe ten years ago, playing Chico O’Farrill’s Afro-Cuban Jazz Suite here to people dancing on the balcony. And the hospitality and the meal are always first class. Once again, this venue did not disappoint.

We have been on tour for 11 days. In that time, we have played 8 concerts, 71 different compositions by 30 different composers from Traditional to Buddy Bolden, to Jelly Roll and King Oliver, to Basie and Lester Young to Ellington and Mary Lou Williams, to Ernie Wilkins and Neal Hefti, to Mingus and Coltrane, to Horace Silver, Wayne Shorter, Freddie Redd and Woody Shaw, to Rodgers and Hammerstein and Gordon Jenkins to Joe Raposo and Mulgrew Miller to Ted Nash and Victor Goines.

So, what do we have the day after our 5th gig? All Day Rehearsal. If ever there was a day to not rehearse, this was it. Monday. But cats had a surprise for me this day. Everyone was on time, ready to rehearse and be done. We prepared Mingus’ “Dizzy Moods,” “Ysabel’s Table Dance,” “Tijuana Gift Shop,” “Los Mariachis,” “Moanin,” “Goodbye Porkpie Hat,” and a couple of his involved extended compositions, “Meditations on Integration,” and “Don’t Be Afraid of the Clown.” And if that wasn’t enough, we then prepared 3 of Thad Jones’ compositions including “Little Pixie,” Coltrane’s “Alabama” and Chris Crenshaw’s arrangement of Monk’s “Epistrophy.”

Everyone was serious and urgent. In rehearsal, the different sections are all working on the music all the time. Sometimes it seems like pandemonium, but when the sections come together and focus, it’s a thing of democratic beauty. All of that talent, intelligence and soul willfully lavished on the greatest jazz compositions with a singularity of purpose—-swinging.

Monday’s rehearsal reminded me of something that happened on the March 2010 tour featuring Ted Nash’s Portrait in Seven Shades. We were scheduled to play three consecutive nights in Dallas’ magnificent Meyerson Hall. Because we were playing Ted’s composition most nights, we had only rehearsed enough for two different nights of programming. Because soundcheck (where we go over music) preceded the first night’s concert and there was no need for further checks, we hadn’t prepared for that third concert. We had planned to just repeat the first night’s program, but, the day of that final concert, cats started calling me saying, “We can’t go out there like this. Let’s go over some music and play a different show.” THEY called the rehearsal.

We handled our business and were ready for the gig. I’ll never forget that as long as I live. They are for real and that’s what we are about. I am absolutely grateful for this glorious opportunity to play with them wherever and however we are in the world.

Wynton