On September 8, 2018, the Joe Farnsworth & Vincent Herring Quartet appeared at the Caton Castle, with Joe Farnsworth on drums, Vincent Herring on alto sax, Keith Brown on piano, and John Webber on acoustic bass. This New York-based collaboration was top-notch.
Out of the gate, the ballad "There is No Greater Love" displayed Vincent's heavyweight credentials as his full-tone alto sax trilled the melody with a sonority similar to alto sax great Lou Donaldson's soulful swing, while Keith's expansive piano flourishes blended with Joe's rhythmic drumbeats and John's throbbing bass line, binding them like a gravitational force. It was a musical "Hello" from Vincent and Keith, newcomers to the Caton Castle.
On "You Are the Sunshine of My Life," Stevie Wonder's pop hit set to a Latin beat, Vincent's angular yet lyrical phrasing brought to mind those past tenor sax masters-- Lester Young, Stan Getz, Dexter Gordon, Ben Webster-- for whom the words of the song were all-important. I read someplace that in a long-ago recording session Ben Webster once stopped playing a ballad in mid-chorus, explaining that he had forgotten the lyrics. All saxophonists blow notes, but the elite also play the sounds, moods, and ideas provoked by the words to a song.
Speaking of lyrics, let us note the recent passing at age 76 of Aretha Franklin, the universally acknowledged "Queen of Soul." A versatile singer, Aretha was equally at home performing pop, Gospel, R&B, soul, and even jazzy blues-- as in "Unforgettable" (1964), her tribute album to the music of Dinah Washington. A cut from that record--"Drinking Again"-- epitomizes for me Aretha's bitter/sweet persona.
Its opening line-- "I'm drinking again"-- holds the high-pitched "I" in an extended single note that lasts so long that it grabs you in the collar with anticipation of its ending, then lyrics to a moderate tempo blues beat describe the despairing mood of a bar-scene denizen who bemoans the sorry lot of love's losers before finally exclaiming abjectly: "I ain't got nothing but a bottle of Seagrams and just a mem-o-ry." Such pathos!
I think that Aretha's Detroit grittiness was the key to her mass appeal. I knew somebody dear to me like that lady in the sad song, and Aretha probably did too. Over and over, my dear one tried to drown her sorrows in booze but, sadly, her sorrows knew how to swim. And it often started with a half-pint of Seagrams gin or, as we used to call it, a shorty of "Knotty Head."
"I'm in the Mood for Love," a ballad that first appeared in an old "Little Rascals" movie, was dedicated to Harold Mabern, the octogenarian Dean of Jazz Piano, who is Joe Farnsworth's regular pianist and, in that capacity, has frequently performed (with John Webber also) at the Caton Castle. On this tune, Keith's piano molded the melody with a Mabern-like ornamental touch that was echoed in John's boisterous bass solo, a calculated effusion of notes.
Both Joe and John performed on the CD, "Mr. Lucky," Harold's tribute to the music of Sammy Davis, Jr. (1925-1990), a consummate black entertainer whose posthumous image is unsettled in a way that Aretha Franklin's is not. Their publics were different. Aretha's music crossed over from Detroit R&B (Incidentally, the term "Rhythm and Blues" was coined to replace "Race Music" as a commercial recording category by "Billboard" magazine in 1959), whereas Sammy sang and danced from the Great American Songbook, channeling mainstream pop culture. His was a token non-white presence in the post-World War II America of glittering show-biz writ large: Hollywood, TV, Las Vegas, Broadway. Blazing a trail in an alien environment can be a thankless job. In his day, some accused Sammy of being insufficiently "black," an Uncle Tom. Of course, the same racial spitball was hurled at Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong (1901-1971), the greatest trumpeter of all time.
Without a doubt, the "Queen of Soul" crossed over to mainstream acclaim on a road paved by others. Kudos to Harold Mabern for his CD shout-out to the trailblazing "Mr. Lucky," especially Harold's bravura piano take on one of Sammy's signature ballads, "What Kind of Fool am I?"
Vincent shifted into his high-speed gear on "Inception," pianist/composer McCoy Tyner's up-tempo harmonic vehicle, and the rhythm section was up to the full-throttle challenge, Joe Farnsworth's drums especially, with a bass drum uncharacteristically audible amidst the clashing of a single ride cymbal and clapping high-hat. Indeed, Joe's drum kit was notably spare, proof that less can be more.
On a long-ago road trip, I once surprised some jazz-averse companions by playing the sultry standard, "You Go to My Head," from tenor sax legend Gene "Jug" Ammons' "Angel Eyes" CD. My captive audience warmed to the tune, one person in particular who observed, "That kind of music makes you want to light up a cigarette." Yeah, the Joe Farnsworth & Vincent Herring Quartet was like that.
THE JOHN LAMKIN, II
JOHN LAMKIN, II FAVORITES 18AUG2018
THE ALLYN JOHNSON QUINTET
August 11, 2018
On August 11, 2018, the Allyn Johnson Quintet appeared at the Caton Castle, with Allyn Johnson on piano, Antonio Parker on alto sax, Theljon Allen on trumpet, Herman Burney on bass, and Kelton Norris on drums. As a frequent sideman at the Caton Castle, Allyn's feisty piano customarily sets a high bar for the rhythm section, and on this night the entire ensemble excelled in following their leader.
"Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise" was typical. On this up-tempo standard, Herman's rock-solid bass line pulsated with a vibrancy that laid claim to rhythmic space beside Kelton's challenging drumbeats, cymbals setting the pace with snare drums flaring behind Allyn's elliptical statement of the melody, a shifting trickle of notes that gained momentum in the restatements until waves of piano licks finally subsided.
Theljon's bracing trumpet solo, slurring high notes but generally maintaining an even tone with lyrical phrasing that hinted at the garrulous style of trumpet master Freddie Hubbard, was complemented by Antonio's alto sax, responding at a sprinting pace in a mellow flow of notes, punctuated by subtle dissonance.
While Allyn's style defies easy categorization, it showed itself in a definitive way at a performance in tribute to the music of the late and great pianist, Mulgrew Miller, that took place at the Caton Castle last summer with a quintet headed by drummer Aaron Seeber. Abrupt tempo transitions, creative modulations in volume, interposing a melody within the melody-- Allyn played Mulgrew's characteristic piano licks to a "t." And in this latest show, Allyn expressly acknowledged Mulgrew's influence as the band performed "Another Type Thang," a brassy swing tempo number recorded by Mulgrew.
There's yet another arrow in Allyn's stylistic quiver; that is, music with an overtly religious dimension as contained in his CD entitled "Grace: The Transforming Journey," by Allyn Johnson & Divine Order. By happenstance, I received a copy of this CD as abandoned property from a disappointed fan of Allyn's music who could not abide such lyrics as, "There's not a friend like the lowly Jesus, no not one, no not one."
Such a spiritual disaffection between musician and fan is not unheard of. In the 19th century, composer Richard Wagner's (pronounced "Vagner") celebrated operas based on Germanic folklore made him a rock star forerunner in Europe and chief among his groupies (see the effusive praise in "The Birth of Tragedy") was none other than Friedrich Nietzsche, the writer whose philosophical atheism laid the intellectual foundation for a demonic secularism (men who live by bread alone) dominant in today's Western world. Famously, Nietzsche proclaimed the death of God.
Well, as it turned out, Wagner seemingly had an epiphany and changed the focus of his operatic concern (notably in "Parsifal") from Germanic folklore to something resembling the Christian redemption story. In response, Nietzsche denounced Wagner as decadent.
Alas, reports of the death of God have not been confirmed, but we have it on good authority that Nietzsche died on August 25, 1900.
"A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square" was a trio performance that spotlighted Herman Burney's dexterous bass. Isolating single notes, Allyn's solo reminded me that jazz piano may involve the same musical scale that is employed in the classical music tradition but playing jazz means that Allyn does something radically different with it, in that a time-keeping jazz drumbeat is always implied. However, some perceived differences in musical categories are more apparent than real. At a recent Caton Castle performance, local drum phenom John Lamkin, III observed from the bandstand that all of our popular musical forms are based on a jazz beat. Given the many distinctions that are drawn within jazz, not to mention the contrasts with everything else on the radio, John's statement requires some digesting.
From a broader perspective, John's observation is indisputable. While the drumbeat's tempo accounts for a night and day difference between jazz and classical music, only shades of gradation distinguish jazz from blues, rock, pop, R&B, and even Gospel music. They're all, generally speaking, variations on the generic (12 bar) blues pattern that underlies even the Gospel staple, "Amazing Grace" (sample the three different iterations on Allyn's aforesaid CD). Fans may not see it, but the family resemblance between jazz and its pop music progeny is as obvious from a classical music perspective as the similarity between all of the world's nationalities would be to a Martian.
Like Allyn's disgruntled fan (and Nietzsche), people sometimes demand more from music (and artists) than it is possible to deliver. "Beauty" is an inadequate substitute for "Truth." What will you do when the music stops? In the quaint expression of piano legend "Fats" Waller, "One never knows, do one?"
In any event, music is king of its own domain. In my estimation, Allyn's "Gospel" CD does not represent his best work. That has nothing to do with references to Jesus Christ ("...the way, the truth, and the life..." John 14:6). What the CD lacks is more of Herman Burney (he's on the CD) on bass, with his remarkable ability to articulate a melody while maintaining the beat (especially when he hums or scats), and the crisp accents-- shades of "Philly" Joe Jones-- of Kelton Norris' dynamic drums. Their rhythmic interplay with Allyn's raucous piano on the quintet's rendition of saxophonist Hank Mobley's "This I Dig of You" was exquisite, with Allyn delivering some shrill notes suggestive of steel drums.
For good measure, the audience was treated to a sit-in performance by trumpet sensation Sean Jones, head of the Peabody Conservatory's jazz department, on "Bags' Groove," vibraphonist Milt Jackson's bluesy jazz standard. Sean, whose style is so explosive that at times he doesn't play notes so much as launch them, is scheduled to appear at the Caton Castle on October 6, 2018, with a group that includes saxophonist Donald Harrison and drummer John Lamkin, III.
All in all, Allyn Johnson's quintet delighted the Caton Castle crowd. Surely, I could get an "Amen" to that.
ABRAHAM BURTON QUARTET
Saturday - July 28, 2018
JOHN LAMKIN, III QUARTET
July 14, 2018
On July 14, 2018, John Lamkin, III's quartet appeared at the Caton Castle, with John Lamkin, III on drums, Grant Langford on tenor sax, Herman Burney on acoustic bass, and Dave Manley on electric guitar. This show was high octane.
John is the beneficiary of two generations of refinements in jazz drumming. Big band drummers like "Chick" Webb, "Big Sid" Catlett and "Papa" Jo Jones had already embellished the drums' time-keeping function with solo pyrotechnics before the post-World War II generation-- Max Roach, "Philly" Joe Jones, Art Blakey, and others-- moved the drums to the forefront of bebop ensembles. In addition to improvisation, what distinguishes jazz in its various incarnations from other musical forms is its drum-driven rhythm, a stylized pulse that sustains a structural force against which the other musicians continuously react. You could say that in a shifting sort of way the drums are to jazz what the net and boundary lines are to tennis.
Indeed, John was the leading light on "Duke" Ellington's "Caravan," an uptempo vehicle for a barrage of cymbal strokes amidst snare drum eruptions-- mesmerizing solo interjected-- that set the pace for Grant's even-toned tenor work, exploring the contours of a familiar melody in adventurous ways, rising to John's challenge. Herman's steady hand on bass and Dave's extended guitar riffs, his powerful strumming, rounded out a solid performance.
The unannounced appearance of Grant (a Charlie Parker look-alike) and Dave was a pleasant surprise. Last minute additions/substitutions are not uncommon in the jazz world. In fact, "sit-in" performances involving visiting musicians from the audience are a common occurrence at the Caton Castle. It has always amazed me how jazz musicians who play together for the first time are able to produce a collective sound that is cohesive and spontaneous as if it were the product of prolonged mutual acquaintance. Of course, top-notch players practice their craft relentlessly-- saxophonists "Sonny" Rollins and John Coltrane are legendary in this regard. However, it appears that the possibility of a "first take" blending of musicians of varying talent levels and styles derives from the existence of a common musical language, the embracing of which is the key to the jazz kingdom.
Some light on the mystery was shed in a jazz insider's memoir by saxophonist Richard Terrill-- "Fakebook: Improvisations on a Journey Back to Jazz" (2000). Talking out of school, the author describes the written technical prop-- the "fakebook"-- as "a collection of melodies or 'heads' with the chord changes, so that musicians can read the tunes and changes instead of having to play solely by ear and memory." Terrill continued, "The name 'fakebook' comes from the old coinage that a musician who is improvising over a set of chord changes is 'faking,' making up his or her own melody."
The term "fakebook" is apparently used ironically, in that Terrill calls it "a place to start, the structure upon which music is composed;" thus providing the basis for very real improvisation by putting all of the players on the same page. Even so, experience from the Caton Castle and elsewhere teaches listeners that given their common musical language, playing jazz by ear and memory suffices for many, even without the "fakebook." Indeed, there are noteworthy examples of extraordinary jazz musicians who could not read music at all; pianist Erroll Garner comes to mind.
Reading is not a prerequisite for singing. Clearly, Grant's lyrical tenor sax serenade on "My Foolish Heart," a brooding ballad memorably recorded by saxophonist Stan Getz, came straight from the heart and found an echo in Herman's soulful bass solo.
As is its nature, art imitates life. Just as a common language enables musical harmony, the lack of a common language is always attendant to social disharmony. When the same word means different things depending upon your perspective, strife follows. There is a story in the Bible about two clans of brothers (more precisely, cousins, the grandchildren of brothers) who came to blows about some perceived affront to group dignity. Problem was, they all resembled each other so much that it was hard to identify the enemy. The only telltale distinction was a difference in speech patterns whereby one group could not pronounce the word "Shibboleth" without spitting.
In their internecine warfare (something similar to Rwanda in 1994), a slight variation in language sufficed to determine who lived and who died: "Then they took him [who mispronounced], and slew him at the passage of the Jordan; and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand" (Judges 12:1-6).
Surely, nothing of the sort could happen in red state/blue state 21st century America-- right?
According to the poet, music has charms to sooth a savage beast. Perhaps. Whereas serious music involves a deliberate balance of contrasts, a person in a rage-- a savage beast-- loses all sense of proportion. Consider the yarn about the scorned wife who determined to kill her husband; so she poisoned him, strangled him, stabbed him, shot him, held him under water, then squatted down and urinated in the river. When asked why she felt the need to pee in the water, the forlorn lady responded: "Every little bit helps."
Nonetheless, music can be a tonic for the civilized. Dave's delicate guitar solo on "Peace," pianist/composer Horace Silver's pensive ballad, created a certain tension with Herman's bass line (so much more pronounced in the absence of a piano) and John's sensuous brush strokes, before a melodic resolution released the small but attentive audience from the collective grip of this solid rhythm section, playing in the pocket.
In music and life, not every discordant note is unwelcome. "Shibboleths" appeal to the snob in us all. For example, devotees of classical music cannot utter the word "jazz" without contempt; that is to say, without figuratively spitting. And jazz fans return the favor whenever they deign to mumble something about "classical" music.
Of course, we jazz snobs are justified. John Lamkin, III's spirited quartet was proof of that.
June 23, 2018
On June 23, 2018, vocalist Gabrielle Goodman appeared at the Caton Castle, along with Warren Wolf on vibraphone, Greg Hatza on piano, Reginald Payne on bass guitar, Robert Dupree on Conga drums and percussion, and Robert Shahid on drums. Stylistically, this show was a mixed bag.
As a frequent performer at the Caton Castle, the versatility of Warren's vibraphone is well-known, whether setting the pace as the leader or setting the mood from behind. No matter the style, there's a commanding aspect to the orchestral quality of the vibraphone, its multiplicity of sounds. To open the show, the instrumentalists played vibraphonist Milt "Bags" Jackson's signature bebop blues standard, "Bags' Groove," with Warren's melodic statement and rhythmic variations provoking a spirited response from Greg's piano (not his customary organ), including some boogie-woogie riffs.
The next tune, "Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise," showed Robert Shahid's drums in excellent form, maintaining an intricate time stamp before soloing with pizzazz. And, on a couple of other tunes, Robert Dupree's conga drums added percussive spice.
With the nearly full house warmed up, a hearty Caton Castle greeting was provided for Baltimore native Gabrielle Goodman, a veteran performer and music teacher, but a newcomer to this venue. Incorporating much from the rich tradition of jazz vocalists, Gabrielle's sound is both familiar and fresh, scatting like Ella Fitzgerald on "Route 66" and moaning from deep down, like Sarah Vaughan, on "Summertime." Moreover, Gabrielle's distinctive treatment of "Don't Explain" in a duet with Reginald's lively bass guitar proved that Billie Holiday doesn't own that tune, exclusively.
Gabrielle credited a long association with R&B diva Roberta Flack as a decisive influence on her career. In tribute, she sang Roberta's "Feel Like Makin' Love," a pop chart hit, and other songs in that vein, like Aretha Franklin's "Respect" and Patti Labelle's pop treatment of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." To be sure, Gabrielle has both R&B and jazz chops: she rendered a lyrical version of Matt Dennis' melancholy jazz ballad, "Angel Eyes," to a funk beat.
"Feel Like Makin' Love," in fact, put me in mind of younger days, when I often pondered with songwriter Cole Porter: "What is This Thing Called Love?" The ancient Greeks had it figured out, sort of. In Plato's "Symposium" it is reported by Socrates on the oracular authority of the prophetess Diotima that Love was conceived at a birthday feast in honor of Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love and Beauty, when an inebriated Poros, the God of Plenty, was finagled by Penia (Poverty), a "Plain Jane" mortal, into a tryst that resulted in the birth of the demigod Eros, the source of erotic Love. This divine/human Love is a composite of contrasts, by turns mortal and immortal, elegant and plain, rich and poor, wise and foolish. "But Beautiful," songwriter Jimmy Van Heusen has added.
However that may be, pianist Greg Hatza could take the Greeks to school on the related subject of the blues, whether on piano or in the way that he usually rolls, on electric organ and vocals.
Indeed, the blues stands in close proximity to Plato's mythological Love, having grown out of a particular historical circumstance of enforced poverty amidst plenty. The blues is a compound of the human with the inhuman-- not the divine. American slave songs that communicated a bitter experience on many levels evolved into emancipated musical patterns of worship, art, and entertainment. The blues as a musical genre seemed to arrive in full stride with the 20th century, like the Goddess Athena of Greek mythology springing fully grown from the head of Zeus. In fact, the first generation of blues stars-- the likes of Bessie Smith, Gertrude "Ma" Rainey and James P. Johnson-- showed up before the technology to commercially record them.
To this day, the basic blues musical pattern has remained unchanged since its gestation in antebellum America. However, I'm sure that the spirit of the blues-- like the spirit of Love-- is as old as the memory of humankind. Though the pattern of his recitation was undoubtedly different, biblical Moses arguably sang the blues when he lamented the wrath of God occasioned by the faithlessness of men: "Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance. For all our days are passed away in thy wrath; we spend our years as a tale that is told" (Psalm 90:8-9).
As a vehicle for both love songs and the blues, jazz, pop, and R&B serve the musical Muse. Gabrielle Goodman's eclectic repertoire dished it all out, tastefully.
THE ELIJAH BALBED QUINTET
May 26, 2018
On May 26, 2018, the Elijah Balbed Quintet appeared at the Caton Castle, with Elijah Balbed on soprano/tenor sax/bass, Allyn Johnson on piano, Eliot Seppa on bass, Warren Wolf on vibraphone, and Lee Pearson on drums. This show was billed as a "Baltimore/Washington Jazz Collusion," with the latter two artists making up the Baltimore contingent, and proving beyond a doubt that when it doesn't involve the Russians, "collusion" with Washington is a good thing.
The up-and-coming players in this all-star band are all familiar faces at the Caton Castle. On the Cole Porter standard, "Just One of Those Things," Elijah flexed his tenor sax muscles in the brisk, edgy, improvisational style of classic "bebop" exemplars of the tenor sax like Hank Mobley or Joe Henderson, shifting the shape of the melody based on a fluid harmonic approach. Meanwhile, this solid rhythm section maintained parameters of time and space with Eliot's sprinting bass line mediating between Allyn's rhythmic piano refrains and Lee's wall of percussive sound, his persistent and encircling drumbeats-- cymbals leading.
The band performed several original compositions by Elijah, including the title tune from his latest CD, "Lessons from the Streets," a bluesy ballad that featured a meditative bass solo by Eliot that was answered in kind by Warren's engaging vibes, with a restrained fury that was subsequently unleashed on Allyn's original tune, "Rise."
In addition to the original compositions, the band's playlist consisted of songs that fall within the well-worn boundaries of "straight-ahead" jazz, the heir to the "bebop" throne. Jazz standards performed like Thelonious Monk's "'Round Midnight" and Gigi Gryce's "Minority" are of ritual significance to some fans, constituting a figurative tattoo of authenticity. You could call such fans "straight-ahead" jazz purists.
It goes without saying that not everybody bows to this "standards" reverence. It can lead to stagnation. In music and otherwise, growth is necessary for survival. However, the form of that growth-- the shape of things to come-- is bound to generate controversy because the subject of jazz is both nuanced and passionate.
I thought of this when perusing the promotional videos for this show on the Caton Castle website. In one offering, Lee Pearson performed a bravura 8-minute drum solo, a spell-binding array of sound and motion. The caption indicated that Lee's performance occurred with a group led by Chris Botti, a veteran trumpeter identified with the musical genre known as "smooth" jazz. So clearly contrary to the sound typical of "smooth" jazz-- Lee's too loud, for starters-- it's possible to enjoy Lee's solo without embracing Chris Botti's variety of "smooth" jazz. And it does come in different flavors. Obviously, to reflexively dismiss, for example, the funky "smooth" jazz saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr. along with his saxophone-lite fellow-traveler, Kenny G, is to throw the baby out with the bath water.
Let us backtrack: What is "smooth" jazz? It is moderated tempo instrumental music resembling jazz, but without improvisation. I got this understanding straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak. In 2006, I attended a performance at the Lyric Theater (seating capacity: 2,500) featuring a quintet headed by two stars of "smooth" jazz, saxophonist David Sanborn, and the aforesaid Chris Botti. The house was sold out (pun intended); as a latecomer, I had to buy an obstructed view ticket. The musicians were talented and professional, but midway through the show, David Sanborn apologized to the audience (perhaps tongue-in-cheek) because he was about to play something different from what they were accustomed to hearing by him on the radio. Explaining that he had a need to return from time to time to his improvisational roots, the band played a spirited take on "All Blues," from Miles Davis' album, "Kind of Blue." After which, the audience politely applauded and the band returned to playing "smooth" jazz from the radio, note for packaged note.
As an aside, it should be observed that trumpet icon Miles Davis was himself a jazz innovator, second to none. "Kind of Blue" (1959) represented a phase in Miles' development known as "modal," where he de-emphasized or, dare I say, "smoothed out" the complex chordal progressions characteristic of his prior styles-- "bebop" then "cool" jazz-- and "modal" jazz anticipated Miles' "post-bop" exploration of "fusion" or "jazz rock." At its best, jazz has never been static. But, for what it's worth, Miles lost me at "Bitches Brew" (1970), a best-selling album by his electrified "jazz rock" ensemble. Whereas "smooth" jazz (except for the likes of Grover Washington, Jr.) suffers from monotonous predictability, "jazz rock" goes to the opposite extreme: it's disorienting, except for, say, "Weather Report."
Anyway, despite a superficial popularity, "smooth" jazz is not a serious contender for the future of jazz. Indeed, the only remaining local radio station devoted to "smooth" jazz is operated by the Maryland Transit Administration (WTTZ, 93.5 FM)-- with frequent traffic updates. More to the point, without the spontaneity of improvisation, jazz is not authentic jazz, say the "straight-ahead" purists. I agree.
"Minority," the tune that closed the second set, is illustrative. The band was joined by three musicians from the audience: Todd Marcus on bass clarinet, Eprahim Dorsey on tenor sax, and Ebban Dorsey on alto sax, who traded extended solos with Elijah, now on soprano sax. Like an old-fashioned jam session, each musician interpreted the up-tempo melodic phrasing according to his (her) creative lights-- commendably, all around. Indeed, jam sessions are a peculiar jazz custom that tends to separate the improvisational wheat from the chaff, a process that necessarily excludes "smooth" jazz entirely because it doesn't involve improvisation.
Authentic jazz or not, there's no accounting for taste. We each get the deciding vote. My Grandma's maxim was, "Remember what the old lady said when they asked her why she kissed the cow: 'Everybody to their notion.'"
On this night, the spirit of jazz was in the house. For the sake of the unpersuaded, I would love to hear an encore performance of Elijah Balbed's Quintet (videotaped) with a back-to-back "smooth" jazz set by Chris Botti's band in the cabaret intimacy of the Caton Castle (not the Lyric theater); and let the music speak for itself.
In jazz, a battle of the bands is nothing new.
THE ELIJAH BALBED QUINTET
THE ELIJAH BALBED QUINTET AND GUEST PERFORMERS (Note: Guest Drummer Nick Costas is not in this photo)