My exciting week began with a lunch date at The Pilot Tavern with a sweet lady (Sunnie) and wildly creative pianist and composer (Gia). The food was delicious and the weather on the patio was perfect. I am a big fan of Gia and hope to help him by recommending him for gigs and perhaps we’ll be writing some songs together. Tuesday I hosted one of the most memorable loft parties of my life, and the first of the new “season”. I only host parties in the fall/winter for many reasons…I tend to host short shing digs on weeknights from 7-10:30 or so and want darkness so the lighting is effective and the vibe is right. I was a month earlier than usual because Gigi was in town and luckily a performer from Siberia graced us with her presence and performed a style of throat singing I’d never heard and then jammed with George Koller and Ross MacIntyre on basses. Many people sang, backed up by Peter Hill, Bill King, Koji, Tony Quarrington, Ross MacIntyre and George Koller.
Then next day I had a quiet night with Gigi…she’s off to Asia once again for who knows how long, so it was terrific to have dinner and chill.
Then I packed and left the next day for a Jazz Safari to The Monterey Jazz Festival in California. This is one of the best festivals on the planet…in orgainziation, merchandise booths, food vendors and of course, music!
The festival started with a gala dinner with Clint Eastwood hosting, and Jack DeJohnette as guest of honour. The food and wine pairing was exquisite, and Clint ensured both chairs beside him at the dinner table had people in them. I’d met Clint the year before and raved about his bass-playing son, so it was extra cool to spend time with Kyle and talk shop. His show on Sunday was brilliant, and I hope to get him up to Toronto for a JAZZ.FM show in 2013.
I have learned on this trip that while judging is fun sometimes, there is no point in trying to pick a best band or best moment. Melody Gardot, Tony Bennett and Trombone Shorty were all acts I knew would blow me away once again. Pat Metheny is a given too.
But Bill Frisell exceeded my expectations with three performances and introduced me to a violin player I plan to follow closely…Eyvind Kang (pronounced Kong) blew my mind at all times and especially when he turned his violin into a bass with the flick of a foot pedal. Other acts that surprised me in a great way included Encounter (a quartette from Japan), Tierney Sutton and a festival super group that featured Benny Green, Christian McBride and Dee Dee Bridgewater, among others.
Of course I can’t visit Monterey without hitting Carmel and Big Sur. Last year Ross Porter showed me some of the best shops as well as a secluded beach that was familiar from many movie shoots. This time, I hit Carmel with a few of our Safari-ites: Daron, Tricia and Sammy C.