Monday, November 30, 2009

Northwest Pianorama Rides Again

I'll be appearing as part of Northwest Pianorama with my pals DK Stewart and Kenny 'Blues Boss' Wayne this coming Thursday (Dec. 3) at the fabulous Triple Door in Seattle. Showtime is 7:30 p.m.

We'll have a terrific band behind us, featuring Peter Dammann on guitar, Don Campbell on bass, and the legendary Jimi Bott on drums.

This will be my only scheduled 2009 Seattle appearance, and I'm looking forward to being back in the Emerald City.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Howlin' Ra Ship Docks in Duff's Garage

Since my birthday's this week, I'm looking to have a par-tay!

That means I'll be slavin' over a hot piano in good old Duff's Garage down in Portland this Friday (Nov. 6, at 9:30). I'll have the Willing Victims with me, plus the Mythocratic Transformation Horns and the legendary Chris Miller (Irma Thomas, Marcia Ball) on guitar.

I call the whole aggravation my Howlin' Ra project. You sort of have to imagine Howlin' Wolf singing Sun Ra arrangements of Bill Monroe songs, backed by Mud Boy and the Neutrons in a Texas roadhouse. All disguised as boogie-woogie blues. But later for the descriptions -- this is good time music. So turn up the treble and bop cat bop. The less you think about it, the more sense it will make.

And once again, I'm happy to say, this show is a CBA co-sponsored event.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Santiago Chicken

In his heyday, the fame of "the hardest working bird in show business" extended beyond U.S. waters:
Like every ballpark, Estadio has peculiarities – a lighted foul pole, 'Home Club' painted in English on a dugout, bullpens beyond the outfield fence containing actual bulls. The arrival of a mascot at home plate delights the foreigners. Yellow-feathered, red-combed, the rooster wearing the uniform of the Cuban national team bears a curious resemblance to the San Diego Chicken. "Look, it's the Santiago Chicken," someone quips. The game slipping away from the home side, the rooster takes his head off to peck at home plate, as though casting some weird voodoo spell. "No, it's the Santeria Chicken," another tour member says ...

Monday, November 2, 2009

Canadian Treasure

The great Sun Ra said that he respected "all sincere musicians, whatever kind of music they play." Recently I had a chance to play with someone who embodies that ideal: the great Canadian jazz trombonist/pianist/composer Hugh Fraser.

Hugh and his amazing quintet happened to be appearing at Hermann's Jazz Club in Victoria, B.C. last Saturday night. Hermann's is as fine a venue for jazz as you'll find almost anywhere; no need to bring an electronic keyboard because the club provides a fine grand piano. It was the perfect spot to see Hugh and his combo, playing for people who really appreciated the music.

I had met Hugh briefly at a recent benefit for the Victoria Jazz Society, at which we both performed as part of a blues revue. As soon as our party was seated, someone slipped Hugh a note telling him that I was in the audience, and before I knew it I was sitting down at the piano. I led the band in a Sun Ra number, because after all it was a jazz scene. But before I could leave the stage, Hugh was telling me, "No, no, no, stay where you are, you've got to sing the blues."

And play the blues we did. I've never been made to feel more welcome on somebody else's stage. I did one of my numbers ("Meet Me With Your Black Dress On"), and Hugh's band played it as well as it's ever been played. I've shared the stage with some pretty good bands, but none better than these guys (the combo included Campbell Ryga on alto and soprano saxes, Ross Taggart on piano and tenor, Ken Lister on bass, and Dave Robbins on drums -- all of them certifiable A-listers).

Afterwards, I went back into the audience and Hugh took over at the piano and played "Mode to McCoy," his fabulous tribute to McCoy Tyner. I was glad I played earlier, because (believe me) no one could have followed that!

If you've never heard this man's music, by all means check him out! He's got the kind of energy, talent, and heart that made me want to ever do this thing in the first place.