The second Christmas show I saw was all original music, but what the hell, it was surrounded by wreathes. I saw Wes Warmdaddy Anderson with the always superb Aaron Diehl, Yasushi Nakamura and Marion Fields(Look for him. Really good, I had never heard of him) rounding out the rhythm section. There was also the young horn line of Alphonso Horn on Trumpet and Wes Anderson IV on Trombone. The band sounded great, but if they had played quartet the whole night I would have liked it more, I think. It’s cool though, because you could tell that Wes was using the gig as an opportunity for showcasing his horn line.
It worked. The concept for the gig was to write one tune for each member who had been in Wynton’s septet in its heyday. That means 15 tunes including himself. It’s good, I don’t hear many original 60s style originals in NYC(probably just the company I keep). The two that stood out were the one for Marcus and Wynton, unsurprisingly. Marcus’ didn’t sound like something he would write, but Wynton’s sounded like it was designed for Wynton to tear it to shreds. Funny thing, because Wynton walked in as they were starting the tune. Phrygian modal, at up-Coltrane quartet tempo. Think any Knozz Moe you’ve ever heard.
It was cool, Wynton was actually tearing up at the sound of it. Warmdaddy told me in the afterhang that his plan was to get each namesake on each tune, with Marcus, Herlin, and Reginald being the rhythm section on each. I would by the shit out of that record. Wynton was really touched by his tune. It was called “The Skain-ish One”. Good title. Anyway, Wynton stayed for the rest of the set and for the afterhang, and really dug Alfonso’s playing. I did too, but he wasn’t in his element, I don’t think. Serious trumpet playing though, really in control. Nervous by the presence of Wynton, I’m sure(although Wynton was openly vocal about digging him. Gave him a talking to afterwards, I think)! Wes IV didn’t seem to mind. He just played the shit out of the horn, with a post-Westray flair.
Young musicians in that school are really making a tradition out of it, I find, revering people such as Herlin and Kenny in conversation, knowing a lot about all of those records. It’s truly become a school rather than just a hanging on to a movement. It’s slightly separatist, but I appreciate it more than the people coming out of the “Younger” Lions school, the Christian McBride/Roy Hargrove crowd. They seem to be more open, if only to specific traditions.
Regardless, the rhythm section played great, you could tell that they had played together. They played a different kind of thing than Wes though; Wes has a lot of different styles under his belt, and not all of them worked with the vibe that the rhythm section was creating. They also seemed to tighten up a bit behind the other two horn players. Some of the solos were great, Aaron killed the song for Marcus, and Yasushi was a more prominent soloist than usual. Killing it with some double stops and other really melodic things. The man knows how to voice-lead. He also shies away from cliches, a disease which afflicts more NYC bassists than other instruments by far. Wes of course was great. He’s got so much together as far as tradition goes. A great melodic voice, but one that can throw down when needed. He once said to me, “It’s all just triads.” one day I’ll see if he’s lying or not.
Also interestingly, Anthony Braxton is one of his best friends. When I commented on how weird that was, he took me down to candle level and said in a low voice “there are not many people who understand Charlie Parker at the level that Braxton does, don’t forget it!” Shocked me. I haven’t had a massive Braxton phase yet, but it is definitely next on my list for Sax players. I just need to figure out my current thing first, with Lacy, Dolphy, Griffin, Byas, and Golson, then I’m right on it. After learning whatever language the Tri-Axium writings is in, of course. And saving up three years to get through half of his recordings. Maybe I’ll segue on over from Lacy’s solo records. That’s not a bad idea actually, lines up pretty well.
Wynton and everybody in that scene is so cool in the afterhang as well. Different than Ohad’s, for example, which is totally casual. When I’m afterhanging(that’s a word now, by the way. Jazz musicians have unbridled creativity, no?) with the JALC crowd, I always feel like I’m in class. They are always aware of the learning opportunities for younger musicians, because that’s how they learned. It’s good, because we have to work harder these days to get in that situation(or you can be an annoying shadow, like me). Some people think that it’s annoying(“The Preachers” they call them), but I don’t mind it, at least not yet. Getting to know peoples’ opinion is the first step. You can learn a lot by putting what you know of a musician’s opinion together with your knowledge of their music. For me, it’s the best way to analyze a person’s connection to their music.
So, good gig, not too Christmas-y, but for the love of all that is good, watch out for that record. Could be a fire hazard.
Tomorrow, one more Yuletide post before it’s back to losing holiday weight and shedding.
Me: “Damn, Wes, what are you feeding that kid?”
Wes: “Vegetables, Coltrane records, Grits, and Cheerios!”