Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Get Over the Blues in Monteton

After getting my pictures made and sharing them with a few friends, I noticed what stories I was most excited about telling. On Tuesday night at DJSS, a guest saxophone player from England, Mornington Lockett, stopped by to perform. He was a mix of wild and calm. He played faster than I’ve ever heard anyone play, he was amazing. When he was listening to someone else solo, he was so focused on them, listening so intently, but calmly. Great stage presence. Afterwards, I introduced myself. He said “I think you’re in my group tomorrow. . . what’s your favorite song?” I was embarrassed to admit that I’m still so new to jazz that I don’t know that many standards. But I told him I’d written a few things. “Let’s have a look,” he said. I just happened to be carrying my scores on me (they were with me at all times, just in case) and Mornington carefully looked at piece after piece, telling me how much he liked what I had written. He finally settled on “Get Over the Blues” and said he would conduct the piece for our group the next day.

I loved the way Mornington lead our session. The calmness, again, was so impressive. He spent a good 20 minutes getting us in tune. Making good music is all about good sound, and he didn’t rush in helping us achieve the best sound we could have. ML kept telling the group how much he liked the piece, explaining the chord changes, commenting on the tune. Since we had a big number of sax players in our group, he suggested 4-part harmony on a couple of measures. That seemed ambitious, since we only had this one rehearsal prior to the concert later that evening. ML asked me to play the chords, and then he came to piano and played them in a tighter arrangement to fit the ranges of the different saxes. He called out the notes to each part while I wrote them down as quickly as possible (I’m not quite as calm, but I’m learning. . .) And then it was done and sounded really cool. The performance went really well (I have it on tape!) and Mornington said very nice things about the work and the great playing (we had a terrific group with 6 saxes, trumpet, violin, guitar, piano, bass and drums.)

Fridays at DJSS are quite an event. The locals from surrounding towns and villages come in for the big concert, which lasts from 6:30 until after midnight (including a dinner break in which Patrick, the owner of the Chateau, serves an amazing paella.) Friday mornings, each group chooses one piece that they have performed during the week to showcase that night. I was so happy that my group chose “Get Over the Blues.” This time, Ingrid Laubrock, another amazing saxophone player/tutor from Germany, conducted our rehearsal. She had new ideas about the piece, suggesting strong accents on the offbeats, especially on the 4-part harmony sections. It sounded great, and it was cool to hear how one piece could change with every new interpretation.

After the performance (I think my group was called The Sharp 9’s) and after the fabulous paella, it was time for my other group to play. Throughout the week, each student is assigned to 2 groups, one chosen by the tutors, and one of their own choosing. I lead the composers group, taking the students through the writing process by sharing the stories and playing through some of the music I had written, and by writing and performing a piece together. One of the pieces we planned was, of all things, Get Over the Blues. But this time we had a vocalist, the amazing Scott Vicari, one of the drum tutors, and a much smaller ensemble (trumpet, sax, flute/harmonica, guitar, piano, bass, drums) so it was a very different sound than the “big band” we had earlier in the evening.
Scott had just the right voice for the piece. Here are the lyrics:

“Get over the blues if you want me.
Get over the blues if you need me.
Get over the blues if you love me.
I don’t wanna be with a crybaby.
You don’t have to have to blues if you don’t want to have them.
I don’t wanna be with a crybaby.”

And he threw in these great adlibs at the end, it was very cool.

As soon as I arrived in Monteton, I was a very happy camper. And then things got better and better throughout the week. If I had any blues, I certainly got over them there.

No comments:

Post a Comment