Photo by jazz uber fan Micki Sackler
The goal is, of course, to make every gig special, to drop every day concerns for an hour or so, to lose yourself in the music. Sometimes it happens more so than others. Last Sunday at the Janice Anderson curated Jazz Vespers series at Mt. Olive Lutheran Church in Santa Monica, I feel that we achieved it. With my current first call band on board – Josh Nelson, Dave Robaire and Dan Schnelle – we were able to play Josh and Jamieson Trotter’s fine charts with a confidence and abandon that, quite frankly, I wish I had achieved in the recording studio when we made last year’s “Crazy Moon.” Even though I knew the charts backward and forward when we recorded them, there is nothing like the experience of performing live to really make arrangements your own. We planned for a 90 minute show, so I also threw in a couple of familiar swingers that we could blow on, including “‘Deed I Do” and “This Can’t Be Love” which gave us a nice contrast to the more densely arranged obscurities like “Strange” and “Second Chance.”
Performances usually take place in a dimly lit night club where (if you are lucky) a spotlight is in your face and you are not able to really see your audience beyond the first row. You always feel an audience no matter what, but you often can’t really see them. To be singing in this beautiful, open and well lit church was not only a pleasure sound wise, it was visually a thrill. To be able to see the faces of the 50 or so in attendance fully engaged, mouthing the words from time to time, intently focused on the music, smiling and swaying with the swing, looking wistful on the ballads, enhanced the experience beyond measure.
Big thanks to Janice for the booking, Rev. Eric Shafer for making us feel so welcome, to the marvelous crowd that turned out, and as always to the very fine musicians I am privileged to know.
Yours truly; Dave Robaire, bass; Dan Schnelle, drums; Josh Nelson, piano.