Thursday, December 16, 2010

Vintage Vinyl #4 - Down to "The Club"

“You know, sometimes we’re not prepared… for adversity.  When it happens, sometimes we’re caught short.  We don’t know exactly how to handle it… when it comes up.  Sometimes we don’t know… just what to do, when adversity takes over.  And I have advice for all of us; I got it from my pianist, Joe Zawinul, who wrote this tune.  And it sounds like what you’re supposed to say, when you have that kind of problem.

"It’s called Mercy, Mercy, Mercy!”

Capitol Records Hollywood recording studio was turned into a nightclub with free flowing drinks for the invited audience present for the album’s performance. In replicating the intended jazz club atmosphere, the requisite hooting, hollering, and drunken applause was left intact on the live recording.  The album feels both organic and authentic through the inclusion of the listener themselves in the center of this audience, enjoying a show with a band at the top of their game. 

Featuring compositions by bandleader Cannonball Adderley, cornetist Nat Adderley, and pianist Zawinul, the album runs the gamut from laid back soul jazz to a hotter, almost bebop sound.  The entire band gets showcased on Sticks while the title track proves to be a slower burn.  A series of slow crescendos, each slightly greater than the last, builds from a basic motif on rhythm and piano to the big finish with the brass section joining in on the melody.  The sprawling horn feature “Sack o’ Woe” ends the album (and the night) highlighting Nat Adderley’s skill on cornet.

Live at “The Club” certainly puts you there, at least for a little while, experiencing the old jazz clubs of yesteryear in the comfort of your own home.  Nostalgia runs high throughout its too short 41 minutes and, like all truly great performances, leaves the listener wanting more.

Until next time,

Monday, December 13, 2010

Rufus Wainwright at Jorgensen

Garrett and I celebrated our anniversary, rather appropriately, by going back to UConn this past Saturday - stopping at WilliBrew for a fun dinner and then seeing Rufus Wainwright at Jorgensen. Both made for a very enjoyable evening.

I liked Rufus better live than in his recordings. His first set was very artsy, and in his own words, "dour." He slowly walked onto stage in a big black robe with a train and huge collar and started with "Who Are You New York?" and continued playing lots off "All Days Are Nights: Songs For Lulu." All the while, a projected eye slowly opened and closed while other eyes would appear and disappear. The first set, including his dramatic, slow walk off stage were all part of the act, and he requested that no one applause until he was off the stage. The second set was much more upbeat, and Rufus said we could clap as much as we want, which we did. He made lots of jokes, forgot some words, and just had a lot of fun. Some of my favorites from the second set: "The Art Teacher" and, of course, "Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk."

Rufus' half sister Lucy Wainwright Roche opened for him and joined him for two songs, including Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." It wasn't bad.

Aside from the show, I have to point out that I have now joined the ranks of all the old UConn alumni who go back to campus and comment on all the changes. Jorgensen is completely redone on the inside: It even smells new. It's pretty cool that the floor isn't all splintery, and I'm not afraid I'm going to break any of the chairs (either by sitting in them or moving them around for money for the band sorority), but the seats are green now. So is the detail below the balcony. It kind of takes away from the regal feeling that Jorgensen once had and brings it closer to the Student Union Theater. Also, half the seats on the main floor are permanently there, so there are fewer cabaret seats. Interesting change. (Insert nods and approving murmurs from all the other UConn alumni who can add another story about the changes they've seen on campus.)

Also cool: Someone painted the rock with the Tostitos logo in honor of UConn going to the Fiesta Bowl. It's very well done. Check it out:

- Freesia