Thursday, July 14, 2005

I love this town

So I don't get out as much as I'd like to. Hey, its hard being chore-boy-paycheck. Gotta get up in the morning and get to work. Gotta run around all weekend doing chores, going to soccer games, catching a movie with the kids,... It doesn't leave so much free time to head out to the clubs and plug into the local music scene.

Some nights, though, it all clicks.

Last week Bernie emailed me a link to this Chron article: Headliner and Amateurs Alike Swing Through Amnesia for Unforgettable Jam Sessions which was enough to plant a seed. I knew the bar from when it was a punk dive (and I was more or less a punk—in other words, a long time ago). It was hard to imagine a jazz gig happening at the old Chameleon—it just would never have happened. But its not the Chameleon. Its Amnesia. Even though it has been remodelled the new digs were bound to be pretty funky. And the jam sure sounded like it had potential.

So the family's out of town this week. Bernie was up for it. We're on.

There was nothing mind-blowingly virtuoso going down at Amnesia last night. Nothing like the John Santos gig. What we found was something just as satisfying. Pure, down-home, soulful jamming. Mitch Marcus, the band leader, got the night going with a Monk-heavy first set that set the table nicely. No need to dumb down the stage with dog-eared standards that a bunch of strangers can jam on because they can play the songs in their sleep. If you want to step up to the mike at Amnesia, you better bring a more sophisticated sound. And I don't mean that in the macho sense. This is no bop slugfest. Marcus' willowy, relaxed phrasing, his expansive polyrhythmic solos seemed to challenge all the players to listen up and play off one another instead of blasting each other away. It didn't make the lesser players any better. It just made it all more enjoyable to bask in. As another patron put it, this music is free; free at the door, free on the stage, and free in your mind.

I love this city.

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