I always remembered any club that had the courage to hire me when I first started
I grew up in clubs. In Hanson City, Louisiana, we lived next to an old southern segregated style restaurant/bar/pool hall that always had Sam and Dave on the juke box and Miss Mary behind the bar serving the best boiled shrimp in the world. It wasn’t an environment for children, so if you were lucky to be allowed into it, almost all of the grown folks would treat you like a little prince, and the few who were just on the edge of solvency (or sanity) would make sure you received a scholarship, education, and diploma that opened doors to the late-night netherworld all of the universe, and forever. They provided advanced lecture/demonstrations on the tenuous nature of the human condition which, once received, are never forgotten.
I can remember clubs from Al Hirt’s to the Chateau Rosa to Lu and Charlie’s to Tyler’s Beer Gardens to the Dream Palace to Mason’s Famous Las Vegas Strip to the Glass House, and loved playing and being in all of them, the later the better. Whenever there was a chance to go on a gig with my father, I went, and most times they wouldn’t finish until 1 or 2am and then might talk and hang for another hour or two on top of that!
In the 80’s, I loved playing Blues Alley in Washington DC. I always remembered any club that had the courage to hire me when I first started. Blues Alley gave us one of our first gigs in ’82. Every December, we played and the club would be packed with a great diversity of people of all generations. I was so happy to be playing with Marcus Roberts and Bob Hurst and Tain Watts, we were trying all kinds of different things and the club was as supportive as the audiences. It was a beautiful time musically and socially.
This is a track entitled Knozz-Moe-King. It has three sections that can be activated at any time by cues:
1) an open F mode in fast 4/4 swing (cued by the principal ascending line) on which we just build energy by strettoing themes and building up interlocking counter rhythms;
2) an open mode on an altered C-ish chord in a slower time of the rhythm section’s choice (cued by a descending chromatic theme);
3) a progression of descending 2 bar harmonies to a turnaround to a couple of 5 bar phrases.
Even though it was written in 1982, we still play this because it is very open and free. I remember I had just turned 25 when we made these recordings and because the chief criticism of my playing was that it was too technical, I set out to play even MORE technically and accurate and fiery and young. I was playing such long solos during that time (not this track necessarily), the rhythm section could have sued me.