[Dixielandjazz] Playing above the din

Stephen G Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Thu Mar 19 07:57:35 PDT 2009

Excerpted from the Times, this describes a St Patrick's day jazz gig.   
No doubt a familiar story to those bands that play in similar venues.
Like 22 year old band leader Drew Nugent said to me at our St  
Patrick's day gig in a large bar. "I guess you can see that you'll  
have to play loud tonight."  Glad I had my large bore Selmer and a  
couple of 5JB mouthpieces, and very glad that Kenny Davern's advice to  
me 55 years ago was, "Blow louder Steve".
BTW, I enjoy such venues. They are a challenge to see how many in the  
audience you can grab, and a challenge that offers a chance to push  
great quantities of air through the horn, which makes you sound very  
different and gives a special energy to the music.
Steve Barbone

March 19, 2009 - NY TIMES - by Nate Chinen

You’re Gonna Keep on Drinking? O.K., They’ll Keep on Playing

The saxophonist Michael Blake gamely addressed his audience between  
songs at City Winery on Tuesday night, though that exercise must have  
felt a little disheartening. Most of the club’s patrons were blithely  
impervious, engaged in tipsy conversation at their tables or near the  
bar. The room’s cavernous size and hard surfaces only amplified the  
din. And here’s the thing: this wasn’t at all unusual. This was the  
nature of the gig.
Mr. Blake appears at City Winery every Tuesday, in a series advertised  
as Wine & Jazz . . .

And perhaps most crucially, he seems intent on ignoring that “Wine”  
precedes “Jazz” in the series header. On Tuesday he dug in with his  
usual rhythm section, the resourceful bassist Ben Allison and the  
adaptable drummer Rudy Royston; his guitarist was Steve Cardenas . . .

In some ways it was refreshing to encounter this music without the  
well-meaning tyranny of a “house quiet” policy. The chatter served to  
sharpen the band’s attack, while adding a layer of ambient liveliness  
that isn’t common enough in the contemporary jazz-club experience.

But what Mr. Blake and his colleagues are producing, ideally, isn’t  
background music. They could use a few more committed listeners among  
the crowd.

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