Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Hot jazz

And I don't mean the kind Django played. No, I mean hot, as in 95F even before we add on a heat index. (Cause it gets mighty humid here in Missouri.) So when the Dave Douglas Quintet started playing at 4:30 on Saturday, the audience was embarrassingly sparce. C and I were downing bottle after bottle of water, plus some ice cream, in our effort to stay cool. And all the while my favorite musician in the whole world is up on stage playing beautiful, cerebral music. It's hard to concentrate when your brain just wants to sleep, sleep in the heavy air, and the other half of your brain is embarrassed that the St. Louis area could draw only about 30 or 40 people to hear this brilliant musician. But it *was* hot. Lord, it was hot. When they finished playing, I was embarrassed again to see no one standing up, so I tried to get to my feet, only to trip over the edge of the little beach chair I was in and fall to my knees. So maybe I looked like I was having a religious experience. Whatever it looked like, it didn't prompt my fellow audience members to give the standing ovation the Quintet so richly deserved. I mean, sure, they were under a tent and all, but they were hot, too. And still they played with immense physicality and creativity. (I love live jazz if for nothing else to see the amazing workout musicians put themselves through.)

So, to make up for what I thought was an embarrassing showing on our part as an audience, I determined to get Dave Douglas's autograph over at the Borders tent afterwards. I haven't sought anyone's autograph (other than administrators' on contracts and checks) in years, years, years, but felt the least I could do was to show him that he had a fan or two in Missouri (where, he said, he's never been before--and I would guess would be unlikely to return). So I did go, and still addled from the heat, announced to him that he is "my favorite person in the whole world," and, dumb-founded by such a declaration, he responded, "You're so nice." So, there you have it. My intelligent conversation with my favorite musician, Dave Douglas. (Actually, we did go on to chat a bit about his new CD and about his new record company, through which he will now sell all future recordings online. Check it out: greanleafmusic.com)

C. and I stayed around afterwards to hear Jane Monheit (I'm sorry--but truly boring, predictable music, which *did*, to my chagrin, receive a standing ovation. Puh-leeze.) But the real pleasure was Roy Hargrove's RH Factor, the closing act which started as the sun was setting and temperatures were dropping into a more comfortable zone. I have to admit that I haven't paid much attention to this latest phase in Hargrove's music (since often the electronic turn in jazz can be disappointing--a sad copy of Miles's later years), but am now converted. He's doing a really wonderful and complex fusion of funk, hip-hop, soul, and jazz and is clearly having the time of his life. Good, good fun. (And, hey, Roy Hargrove was born in, can you believe it, WACO!)

So that, my friends, is my belated blog on the St. Louis Jazz Festival.

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