Well, dear readers, I am sitting here like so much tired fish due to a way too long jazz concert/award thing by some Jazz Society thing. So, let me give you the lowdown, as there certainly is no highup to give. Doug and his ever-lovin’ Dorathy and I drove down to the Wood of Holly at around 5:40, arriving at six to sup and then see this concert. I got the first irritating news the night before when I tried to make reservations at my beloved Japanese jernt just down the street from the theater, Kabuki. Closed. Done. Finito. Once again, greedy, ignorant landlords wanting to up the already astronomical rent. So, we were heading to Chipotle when we came upon a jernt called 800 Degrees, where Schwab’s used to be when this behemoth mixed use place opened many years ago. So, we went there. It’s one of those jernts where you order at a counter and they bring you the food. But the bar gal said she’d take care of us, so we sat down.
The first irritant was she delivered me the news that the machine with the soda stuff needed to have whatever’s in there changed out and that she’d bring me my Diet Coke as soon as that happened. We ordered – Dorathy had a chopped salad, I had a small Caesar, and Doug and I both had a quarter chicken (chicken breast and small wing), I had some red potatoes for my side. It’s rather like the roasted chicken at Bird’s. After ten minutes I got more bad Diet Coke news – she had no idea when the machine would be fixed and all the Diet beverages were in that single thing. So, she offered me a flavored sparkling water, orange being the flavor. It arrived and instead of having 0 calories as it should have, it had 125 calories, so it was hardly flavored sparkling water, it was a soda pop. I took one sip and it was quite gross, so I stopped. Just as our food arrived, I could see the machine had just started working again, so she went and finally got me my Diet Coke. The food was actually not bad, though.
Then we went to the theater. We were seated in the first row of the mezzanine – very good seats, actually, although I’d rather have been downstairs and, as it turned out, there was only about half a house down there. I cannot tell you how ugly they made this little jewel box of a theater. That really happened when the Center Theatre Group took it over and it became the Dolittle. They thought that the “industrial” look was just the ticket, and that’s what they did and which basically is even worse now. What was a warm, inviting theater turned into a cold UNinviting theater. In any case, they do this event once a year, and Doug told me jokingly it was a four-hour show. He thought he was joking, too, but in the first ten minutes I saw the writing on the wall. No director, no pace, no structure, no nothing. And a host that was just terrible – some sort of jazz radio DJ that I guess they consider a celebrity of some sort. He had no idea what he was talking about, rambled on and on, and if he said “give it up for” one more time I would have gone mad. The “structure” was this host person would yak on, they’d give some award, there’d be some music, and that was it. The evening began with some music, and that was fine.
The first award-winner, a teen female jazz pianist played two songs with two other young musicians. Now, here’s the thing about jazz musicians, at least certain and perhaps most jazz musicians. They are insular, they don’t really communicate with an audience, just each other – it’s almost exclusionary in a way, and let me tell you if they THINK they are making a connection, they are not. The music is, certainly, and perhaps that should be enough, but I have always found it very distancing with those kinds of artists. I remember spending many hours with Terry Trotter figuring out ways for him to communicate with the audience, and once he got it, it was sooooo much better. But there was no director here, and boy did they need one. Someone who wouldn’t be rode herd over, someone everyone needed to listen to in terms of structure, time allotted for intros and speeches, all of it. In any case, as I always say to my actors – joy, energy, fun – JEF. Never fails if you have those three words. With most of these guys, there was no joy at all, they just sit there, talented as they are, and play. But I’ve seen jazz musicians who play with utter joy – it shines forth and that makes a connection right there.
More awards and more music, and a singer whose name I can’t remember, but who lit up the stage a bit, which was nice. Act one ended one hour and thirty minutes after it began, which is actually outrageous. The fifteen-minute intermission was closer to twenty-five minutes and many people bailed. We toughed it out. The second act was exactly the same – endless yakking by the host, awards, and music. One award went to singer Jane Monheit, who I’ve heard of but never heard. I gather she’s quite popular with the populace. I didn’t care for what I saw at all. It was a lot of grimacing and show-and-tell hand on forehead schmacting, or in this case we’ll call it schminging. I couldn’t understand a word she said, and the sound person was not helpful to her at ALL. Just not my cuppa, I’m afraid. Then came the big award to guitarist Lee Ritenour. He certainly is popular with the populace and there’s a reason – joy drips off him and he absolutely connects with not only his fellow musicians but with the audience. Giving him the award was his partner-in-crime Dave Grusin. They played two numbers and we finally bailed before the second of them was finished because we knew that was not the end of the show – that was at the three-and-a-half hour mark. These people really need to get someone who knows how to do these evenings. They have an event planner who calls herself a director, but she most assuredly is not. They need a REAL director and then they need to listen to the REAL director, and let said director put together a structured concert that runs no more than two hours – period. The organization, however, is a good one, helping young people and guiding them in their budding jazz careers.
Then I came home and it was already time to write these here notes, which you may have noticed is what I’ve been doing.
Prior to all that, I got seven hours of sleep, got up, answered e-mails, and then moseyed on over to the Nordstrom Rack store. I got some pants, which I desperately needed, including three pairs of dress slacks, two of which I have to return to get a longer length because these were too short – every pair of pants is different – there is no consistency in waist or length size anymore. And these were all the same brand. I also got two pairs of jeans-like pants, black and tan – one of those have to go back, too, as they were too long. Go know.
After that, I came home and relaxed – listened to music and then got ready for the long, long evening.
Today, I’ll sleep in, then relax, then at three I’ll go back to Nordstrom Rack and exchange for the right sizes (one shirt was also too tight – I’m gonna have to try everything on, that much is clear. Then from there I’ll go to Doug’s house for this partay for the outgoing artistic directors. I won’t be there too too long.
The coming week is very busy – shipping the last two titles, announcing two more, meetings and meals, a work session for the What If show, writing, working at the piano, and doing whatever else needs doing.
Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, sleep in, relax, exchange some clothes, attend a partay, eat, then come home and relax. Today’s topic of discussion: It’s free-for-all day, the day in which you dear readers get to make with the topics and we all get to post about them. So, let’s have loads of lovely topics and loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, wondering why there is no consistency in clothing sizes.