Friday, January 30, 2004

What's a great concert? Does the band/perfomer show up @ the scheduled time, start off in fifth gear, acknowledge the presence of an audience, shut it down (temporarily) at the 2 1/2 hour mark, stroll off, and re-appear for an automatic encore (autocore) before making a final exit at the 3 hour mark? Does professionalism connote a purely technical performance with a touch of warmth rouge?
Or does the band/performer come out, gazing at the 3/4 full concert hall, mumble complaints of the 1/4 that opted not to show, strut around the stage, circling like a dog before it tucks its tail under its soon-to-be lying rump? Is there a tinge of discomfort in the audience, wondering when their ticket will start paying off? Is there a ramshackled appearance about the band as they seem to be getting acquainted with their instruments for the first time ever? Who's more nervous, the performers or the audience? Does the band start out in reverse, missing notes and solo carry-overs? And then something gels. The lead sax flexes one arm, blows out a piercing squeal that seems to interest the drummer. The train is leaving the station. Your ticket is punched. And you're off. It's a living thing, with stops and stutters and down-the-mountain and around the curve speedballs. Mistakes are there but are played off into merging songs. How many references can they load into one rendition before you can't recoginize what they started with and what they may (who knows, they're not done yet) end with.
Newport Jazz concert. Philly. January 2004. Cedar Walton, James Carter, Lewis Nash, James Moody, Randy Brecke

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