Posted on 5/7/2008at 1:07 PM
April began with a trip to Monterey to start the first part of my 2008 residency with the Monterey Jazz Festival. I had a “Situation” with Jahi Sundance, Dave Ellis, and Jason Lindner at the Golden State Theater. It was a lot of fun. After all these years, it was my first time playing an actual gig with Jason. We’ve only played together once on a recording session with Dana Leong. He sounded great on the gig. The following night, I caught up with my other “dad”, George Duke. We played in an all-star jam session with a lot of people – Terri Lyne Carrington, Billy Harper, Lauren Sevian, Lynne Fiddmont, Ronald Westray, among many, many others. Working with the Monterey Jazz Festival will be huge fun this year.

After Monterey, I came home and played four nights at the Iridium with Jimmy Cobb, Javon Jackson, and one of my biggest inspriations, Cedar Walton. You can imagine what that gig sounded like – hard core, straight ahead swingin’. As I’ve said many times, Cedar is one of my favorite composers of all time. One night, as we were playing the ending melody of one of Cedar’s most singable tunes, “Dear Ruth", I could see a couple guys sitting in the front quitely singing along with the melody. They weren’t singing during the opening melody, but as is the case with a lot of Cedar’s tunes, you hear the melody once, and it sticks.

After the Iridium, I put together a big band for a concert at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center. Fun, but a LOT of stress as I was trying to write new charts while touring with Pat, doing Monterey, Amherst, the Iridium, etc, etc. When you’re trying to write, you need concentrated time and SILENCE! Somehow, I pulled it off, and we had an amzing night. I updated some of my old charts, wrote new charts for Melissa and a GREAT young tap dancer named Maurice Chestnut. Black Frank even made a cameo appearance! It would be very hard to start naming the guys (and gal) in the band without naming everyone, so I’ll once again simply say that everyone played wonderfully.

Lastly, I just completed a two week run playing the music of my dear teacher, friend, mentor, and “dad”, Ray Brown. Benny Green, Greg Hutchinson and myself hit the midwest for a series of gigs in Kansas City, Fayetteville, Minneapolis, St. Louis, and Columbia, MO. What can I say? No matter WHO’S music it is, it ain’t going to get much more swingin’ than Benny and Greg. But playing Ray’s music was the thing that made it even more special. In St. Louis, Tony La Russa, Mike and Pat Shannon, and Barry Weinberg (the Cardinals team trainer) all came to hear us. I look forward to making some more music with “Greens” and “Hutch” again real soon.

Alright, gotta get finished “The Movement Revisited”….

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