Monday, April 05, 2010

So Saturday night, my lady and I went to the 10:30 Ron Carter show at Bohemian Caverns in Washington D.C. Mr. Carter had done two shows on Thursday and Friday, and then an 8pm show earlier that Saturday evening, so our show was the last one during his stay in D.C.

This was my first time attending Bohemian Caverns, so when I walked in I was impressed. The place is literally underground, and it is literally a cavern. As my lady and I tried to decide where we going to sit, I noticed Mr. Carter sitting down talking to an older gentleman, but I didn't want to distract him, since this was his time to relax between shows. About 15 minutes later, Mr. Carter made his way through the crowd, greeted people warmly, and then prepared to start his set.

Ron Carter had two other band members with him. Russell Malone who mainly played the acoustic guitar and Mulgrew Miller on the piano. They called themselves the Golden Stryker Trio. This was the first jazz show I had ever attended that didn't have a horn player or a drummer, so I was curious about what kind of sound they would produce.

The first song they did was called "Blind Faith" from a movie by the same name that came out in 1998. Carter composed music for that movie, and this was one of the songs from there. Usually jazz musicians start off with a fast paced song or two, and then they slow it down with a ballad, but not Carter. The first song was a mid-tempo ballad, and Carter played the background while Malone on acoustic guitar took the lead. I noticed that Carter and Miller kept looking at each other during the entire song. A few times it was to laugh at some of the chord changes, and other times it was to get the other back on the same wavelength. Since we were sitting right behind Miller, it was nice to see those cues up close and personal.

The second song was called Candle Light, and this one was definitely fast paced. They played for a good 8 or 9 minutes, and these three gentlemen maintained the pace the entire time. Even their solos were done at an incredible rate. Carter is 73, Miller is 55, and Malone is 47, so these aren't necessarily young men, but they played like they were.

The third song was called, "A Ballad For A Friend" and this was a slow beautiful ballad. It was during this song, that I appreciated the fact that there weren't any drums or any horns. Carter took the lead on this song, but the piano and guitar complimented him perfectly. I did get a little angry during this song, because I saw at least 5 or 6 people nodding, and I saw two people who were just flat out sleep. As an aside, there was also this guy sitting in front who kept making faces and hand gestures like he was playing an instrument. I later learned that he was an aspiring guitar player who attends Duquesne University in Pittsburgh Still, he incredibly creepy, but at least he stayed awake during the ballad.

The fourth song Mr. Carter did was the jazz standard, Autumn Leaves. During this song, Carter shunned the piano and the acoustic guitar, and he just played solo for seven minutes, and he flexed all his skills. He played slow, he played fast, he changed chords, he worked a country-western song in his Marv Albert would say, "he showed the full repertoire".

The fifth song was Bags Groove and this song will always have a special significance to me. Back in 1989, when I saw Wynton Marsalis at Blues Alley, my father took me back stage to meet and talk with Wynton. This was my second or third time meeting him, so it was no big deal, but at that point I was 14 years old, and I was heavy into playing the trumpet and listening to jazz. When I told Mr. Marsalis this he told me that if I was serious about listening and playing jazz, I would find Miles Davis' Bags Groove record and listen to it over and over. It took me like 5 years to find it, but when I did I loved it. So whenever I hear that song played it takes me back to that place.

The sixth and final song was called Soft Winds, and as Mr. Carter told the audience, it was written by a gentleman named Fletcher Henderson who was one of the early African-American jazz bandleaders. The song, as you would guess from the title, started of slow, light and easy. And then about mid song I guess the soft winds picked up a bit, because all three band members revisited that fast pace they had done earlier in the show. And then to end the song, the reverted back to playing slow and easy. I had never heard the song before, but I will now try and find it, so I can hear how other musicians approach it.

After the show I waited until Mr. Carter was alone, and I went up to him. I explained that this was my first show of his I had ever been to and I enjoyed it. He shook my hand, said a few words to me (I'm not sharing those, sorry) and then we left. It was a great time. Sorry if this entry was too inside baseball for you, but I had been looking forward to this all week and I had a ball..and so did my lady. And as you can tell, I don't do well at reviewing shows, but I tried.

And if you came to this f**king blog hoping to get my reaction on beloved Eagles trading Donovan McNabb, then go elsewhere. I can't deal with that right now.

I Got The Blues - Labi Saffre


£ said...

Great review. Carter is amazing. Give the sleepyheads in the audience a break... maybe they made the trek to D.C from up north on some last minute ish... lol

And McNabb... ugh. I just don't have the bandwith right now. lol

Jazzbrew said...

Your review skills are on point my friend. Thanks for sharing this. Sounds like a great show and it sounds like I need to frequent The Caverns in the very near future.