Toronto- Jazz.FM 91 Jazz Lives

We played a round hall with a cupola dome in the middle that was 100 feet high, with 1600 seats sold out. I stood in the back with Linda Nash (WEA records in Burbank 1980) for 10 minutes and listened to a local high school All-Star big band with a cute little girl playing upright bass, and a kid who looked like Marshall Keith, my nephew. Earlier, singer/pianist Karrin Allyson was on, and Randy Brecker just after the high school big band. The joint was packed, and their enthusiasm was touchable over the entire evening.

I went on after Randy, and did 20 minutes, 4 songs—Cold Duck, Midnight Sun, Mornin’, and Take Five—with a brand new ensemble! Well, we did rehearse the day before, and Joe Turano, my music conductor, was with me and led the rehearsal, and we had a burnin’ good time, at rehearsal, and in the performance just last evening.

Veteran Old Timers always say, “Never follow an animal act or a children’s act; There’s just nothing more to do or say.” Now, I must add Randy Brecker to that never-follow list. David Sanborn’s on that list, too. Randy played with the same house band that I did, and those guys played interesting, intricate avant-garde music that was exciting and you would have sworn that they’d been playing together for 15 years.

That same house band played for me, and although the music we did is stuff that I’ve been doing forever, it really sounded fresh and new. These players knew my music, and knew what it needed, but they brought their own sh.. . So the music had a very fresh face. Would you believe we found a new and funkier feel for Mornin’? And Midnight Sun had that spacious airy quality of gossamer wings on the ether.

I mentioned to the audience what a shame it was and how sorry I was for this being only our second time together, and we must do this more often, and I’d like to come every year. Their applause and cheering was an agreement.

Take Five was the encore, and it sailed along beautifully. It was the first time in fact an audience had reacted ensemble to a quirky little change in the lyric that I’ve been doing for years—When the written lyric says: “Start a little conversation now, it’s alright,” I click my thumb and other fingers together like a hand puppet, and substitute “When you keep on talkin’ Happy Talk,” just like Bloody Mary in South Pacific. Nice!

Backstage we all wordlessly smile and look at each other and brilliant, quiet Robi Botos, keyboard player from Hungary, put it perfectly, “I don’t want this dream to end.” I had a fabulous time backstage before the performance, and after the performance, hanging out with those young kids, and people from the radio station, and the other musicians and singers who did not perform last night but who were there and it became a wonderful informal meet-and-greet.

I’m committed to doing it again next year if they are. Thank you JazzFM 91, and Ross Porter, and my beautiful band for the night. Your slogan is right: Jazz LIVES!


Off to New York to play with George Duke! Happy Springtime!

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