The World According to Keitho

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Posts Tagged ‘jazz clubs’

The dating blues

Posted by keithosaunders on October 31, 2017

I began to gig in jazz clubs in my late teens back when I lived in Los Angeles.  I had decided to eschew college in pursuit of a career as a jazz musician – a decision that has netted me upwards of hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.  I was having a great time practicing 5-6 hours during the day and gigging at night.

One unfortunate byproduct of this situation was that I was invariably the youngest person in the club by over ten years.  Not being in the cocoon of college made it difficult to find a girl close to my age to date.  Where was Tinder when I needed it?!

Fast forward 40 years and all of the practice paid off.  I’m gigging most nights, and I play at an extremely high level.  However I’m now often the oldest person in the club by over 15 years.  Somewhere up in heaven Rod Serling is having a good laugh.

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Keystone Korner

Posted by keithosaunders on July 10, 2017

This past weekend I took part in a 45th anniversary of the great, long-gone San Francisco jazz club called Keystone Korner.  The North Beach club was in existence from 1972 until 1985 – not terribly long by jazz club standards – but long enough to make an indelible imprint on the Bay Area jazz scene.  During its time it played host to the greatest names in jazz – from McCoy Tyner to Stan Getz, Elvin Jones, Art Blakey, Sonny Stitt, Dexter Gordon, and Horace Silver.

This weekend’s celebration featured such luminaries as Azar Lawrence, Gary Bartz, and Charles MacPherson, all of whom still sound great.  I played in the host band, led by tenor saxophonist, Mel Martin.

It was a bittersweet weekend.  I realized that the era of local jazz clubs hosting top touring musicians for six night stints (at affordable prices) is long gone. Sure, New York still has the Village Vanguard, but you would have to practically float a loan to attend it more than once a month.

Furthermore, the Vanguard is very much the exception.  Many cities, San Francisco being one of them, no longer have clubs devoted exclusively to jazz.  Corporate arts centers such as SF Jazz and Lincoln Center help, but do little to foster the sense of a local jazz community.   Not only that, they will rarely host an act for more than a couple of nights.

We have to enjoy our few remaining jazz clubs while we have them.  One day we’ll only have youtube and our memories.

Image result for keystone korner

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Just another night at the office

Posted by keithosaunders on December 7, 2016

There are so many louts at our gigs that it’s hard not to go all Stockhomy and start liking them.  When your office is a dive bar expectations had better be low or you could go crazy from frustration and aggravation.

At last night’s gig there was ultra loud couple sitting in the booth right across from the band. This guy must have been the funniest thing since Sid Caesar because every ten seconds there would be an ear-piercing cackle from his date. He had this nasal voice that could penetrate the loudest decibel, like a knife slashing through butter. We could have been Led Zeppelin and you would have heard this guy.

Needless to say they stayed the entire night. After the gig I noticed they were making out in the booth so I decided to give them a taste of their own medicine. “GET A ROOM,” I screamed. Then I approached them: “How do you like it when I intrude on your business?”

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September weekend

Posted by keithosaunders on September 26, 2016

It’s late September and we’re well into the Bay Area’s yearly Indian Summer.  The days have been hot and sunny while the evenings are cool (ish) and fog-free.

The weekend’s gigs were a mixed bag – mostly good.  On Thursday I received a last minute call for a late Friday night (10:30-1:30) gig at a new jazz club in San Francisco.  At 9:30 PM Friday I boarded the gig mobile (Mazda minivan) and the weekend’s festivities were underway.

I arrived to find a nice looking restaurant/bar with a downstairs jazz club.  It was intimate, with a small stage and exposed brick walls.  The only trouble was that it was packed with puke-faced millennials who were more interested in their phones and their fancy mixed drinks than the music.

Worse than that, the band didn’t gel, due mostly to a weak bass player who played way too loud, as well as on top of the beat, making it impossible to find a pocket.  The result was that I overplayed and soon fell into a funk.

During the break the awkward moments kept coming.  It was one of those crowded clubs with nowhere to stand or sit.  The band had dispersed and there was no one to talk to.  I  didn’t feel like drinking – I already sounded bad enough – so I just stood around looking like the mamaluke of the year until it was time to reconnoiter upstairs for dinner.

The restaurant served us some nouveau cuisine – I had thought that these small portioned, tricked out presentations had gone out with the 80s.  Was this old-veau cuisine?

During dinner the bass player chatted me up, probing for my life story.  She managed to discover that the reason I had moved to the Bay Area from New York City was because my wife (now ex) had recieved a job offer.  “I guess that your musician’s salary wasn’t going to make it,” she opined. Needless to say this comment went over like a turd in the punchbowl.  I shot her the Keitho ray and she responded she responded sheepishly with, “Sorry if I touched a nerve.”

The dinner was mercifully short owing as much to our schedule as the minisscule portions. Then it was announced that this young pianist from Minnesota was going to sit in for a couple tunes along with a bass player.  (a good one this time) The piano player was great and he proceeded to cut me.

By now I was thoroughly dusgusted with the entire situation.  When it was my turn to resume playing I was fired up enough to find my good stuff and I played well the rest of the evening. (I’m a good mad player.)  In the end I was kind of glad that the other piano player (who turned out to be a nice guy) gave me a goosing.

The gig went overtime, of course, and I stumbled out of there around 2am. The rest of the weekend’s gigs went much better but this post is already too long.  On to this week’s gigs!

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Louder

Posted by keithosaunders on February 1, 2012

Have you all noticed how loud life is getting?  I’m not talking about the street noise of a bustling city — I like the mayhem of honking horns and people screaming good-naturedly, or angrily at each other.  I’m talking about ancillary noise that did not exist a decade ago.

When you go to a movie, even before the trailers begin, there are commercials playing at an uncomfortable volume.  Forget the feature, which is deafening.

When I lived in New York I used to dread walking by the Peruvian folk bands playing on the street, or in the subway stations.  You know those guys:  They’re  the ones with the amplified pan flute players.  What is it with the pan flute anyway?  First of all, the instrument itself is an abomination.  Second of all, nobody wants to hear it.  And third of all, they are particularly offensive when PLAYED THROUGH MARSHALL STACKS!

Closer to home, I am distressed about how loud jazz music has become.  In the old days bass players didn’t have amps — they were felt more than heard.  Perhaps this explains why they felt so good!  These days you have bass players playing through amplification at uncomfortably loud levels.  The drummer ends up having to play louder, and the horns and piano require micing.  Ultimately, unless you’re playing at a serious listening venue,  the audience talks louder.  It’s a vicious cycle.   Or is it a vicious circle?

Whatever.

It’s vicious.

 

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