Tenor Players Passing Through

It’s been an exciting 2012 here in Nashville so far.  Monday nights have been a fun hang  since Chester Thompson started leading his trio at the Commodore Grille, and now the Nashville Jazz Orchestra is playing an early set there every Monday at 5:30!  Sportsman’s Grille has continued its Wednesday night jazz series, the Charles Walker Trio has been playing many Tuesday nights, Beegie Adair Trio on Thursdays at F Scotts…it’s been a thrill getting out and hearing so many inspiring players.

As a tenor saxophonist it’s been an especially thrilling winter.  First Bob Mintzer was here as a guest soloist with the Nashville Jazz Orchestra.  The band played about 12 of his charts and Bob sounded ridiculous.  He’s so incredibly expressive, and his tone is amazingly bright and dark at the same time.  I know that sounds strange, but I swear that’s what I observed.  I was very honored (and thrilled!) to play a tune with Mr. Mintzer as a special guest of the NJO after having filled his role in rehearsals prior to his arrival.  Ron Wynn had a nice write up on the concert at ArtNowNashville.com.

After playing ‘My Shining Hour’

Equally exciting, Benny Golson was in town to record some tracks with Gail Davies.  I was very fortunate to get to spend a little time with the great man and pick his brain on his tunes, the jazz scene, and life.  He was totally inspiring.

Sylvan Park After Dark

Interestingly, at the reception a jam session broke out…fiddle, banjo, lap steel, guitars, bass, snare drum, harmonized singing.   The grooves were certainly identifiable as “country” and “western swing,” but I had a revelation while listening to the star-studded jam – this music was jazz.  Everyone took a turn leading a tune and improvisation abounded.  I know there’s lots of arguments on the web lately about what ‘jazz’ is or isn’t and its etymology, as well as the thoughtful notion that jazz should really be called BAM.  I’m not sure if ‘jazz’ or ‘BAM’ would be the right term for what I heard, but it’s safe to say that if Benny Golson is a fan, you’re doing it right.

Checkin' out monster player Chris Scruggs

Next weekend: Cassandra Wilson.  Keep the jazz masters comin’ Nashville!

– evan


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