When I watch these 2 videos of my only performance so far in 2022, I can’t help but think, if not for the grace of the Creator, I could have been dead and this could have never happened. Back on October 29, 2021, I experienced my first heart attack. As I instructed my wife to run through the red lights because I knew I was in the process of dying with each labored breath, I didn’t think I’d make it to the emergency room. I prayed that if I survived, I’d do everything possible to make the changes in my health to not ever be in this space again. I’m proud that since that night, I have stayed true to that promise, by simply getting serious and changing my diet. As a result, recently my doctor said that my blood pressure is that of a 40-year-old! I was not supposed to be able to perform so soon. So as you listen to these 2 musical performances, keep that in mind. I am nowhere near where I was before the heart attack. I know that there are issues with my stamina and ability to breathe and so forth; things crucial to a saxophonist and especially a baritone saxophonist.
As I look back at these performances, at first I’m stunned that so far, that has been my only performance of 2022. I don’t believe I’ve ever gone this long between performances. As of now, the quartet’s next performance on the books isn’t until September 23rd at LACMA. But then finally, I realize it is as it should be. I am at a sweet spot in my life at age 65. I no longer feel the need to “push”, “hustle” and constantly “market” myself to have gigs. Such things are really the antithesis of what music should be about. And jazz is about musical truth. People used to come out to hear performances for inspiration and to take something from it to enrich their lives. But as Herbie Hancock recently commented to great fanfare: people now are primarily interested in the celebrity of the person making the music rather than the music itself. In the music business, the music itself has been relegated to second place to the music makers’ celebrity and iconism. Without that, most people simply aren’t interested except for the few diehards who have learned how to love the music itself. Thank God for them! They showed up for our performance on February 5th! I was so surprised. I had told the band during the soundcheck that I’m not sure anybody would show up. We may not have much of an audience. I was trying to keep everybody upbeat saying that Clarion Jazz had paid everyone and if that happens, we’re just going to have a great time playing in this wonderful venue that is truly made for performing great music! Thank God for true music lovers. They are few, far, and in-between!
“Dreamsville” is by the great Henry Mancini who is originally from Aliquippa, PA, just down the river from where I grew up outside of Pittsburgh, PA. Performed Feb 5, 2022, at Alvas Showroom, San Pedro, CA. myself-alto & baritone sax, Jane Getz-piano, Bill Markus-bass, and Thomas White-drums. Video and audio by my good friend, bassist, audio/video engineer, David Cousins. Dave is a supremely talented DIY, Renaissance Man. He is one of those rare individuals who besides being creatively talented (right brain) is also superbly informed about Science (left brain). And he did this off-the-cuff! I can only imagine what he could create given the time and money. Compared to my previous stationary Handycam video, Dave’s video is a considerable improvement: improved audio and more video editing with multiple camera angles and brings to life our performance. Apologies for the flashing color-changing disco lights! Alvas’ regular sound man took sick that evening and sent a sub who inadvertently cut on the disco lights, but didn’t know how to turn them off! Hey, the show has to go on!
“Xing Ped” is written by my very good friend, Paul Cohen who is a modern-day genius. I don’t use those words lightly. In the late 50s/early 60s, Paul along with J.C. Moses and Tony Williams were the hot new drummers on the New York scene. Paul was a member of the Paul Bley Quartet and played with everybody, notably Kenny Dorham, Ornette Coleman, and Eric Dolphy. To feed his growing family he went back to law school and became one of LA’s top probate lawyers along with his wife Isabel who is a retired Superior Court judge. Paul knows everything there is to know about the American jazz standard canon. He can tell you who the composer, the lyricist is and what musical any standard appeared in, etc., etc. Paul is equally talented as a vocalist! -Last night at our weekly rehearsal, I gave him just the lyrics to “It’s A Most Unusual Day” which I had just transcribed, and sang it like he owned the tune! “Xing Ped” is a modern-day jazz standard, built on the chord changes to “Detour Ahead” and has wonderful lyrics! It’s a very funny story that I will leave for a future time. We are so grateful for his permission to perform and record his tune “Xing Ped”. This is another video by David Cousins with improved audio and multiple camera angles. Anyway, “Dreamsville” and “Xing Ped” comes very close to capturing what the DFQ sounds like from our days at LA’s 5th Street Dick’s back in the 1990s. Also, it captures what we do best, bringing new life to jazz standards.