Thursday, March 08, 2007

Touching down in PDX

Yesterday started in what was probably the worst way possible. Woke up to exactly the wrong kind of back pain -- the kind that hinted at one of my infrequent "no, you're not going to be able to walk today" bouts with Ankylosing Spondylitis. That's always bad, but it's particularly bad on the day of a gig. Thankfully, I shook it off by mid-morning, but let me tell you, that was a pretty scary couple of hours.

At around the time my back began to loosen up, I received an urgent message (actually sent the previous night, but missed because I had crashed uncharacteristically early, and had made the unusual (but ultimately healthy) decision to unplug the phone / internet for a few hours): Dave Valdez (thanks GDG for the link), the sax player who was (until that moment) on board to play bari for both PNW gigs, had gotten an extremely bad sore throat that had landed him in the emergency room. So it was back to the phones and email, and a few hours later, I was able to capitalize on the fortuitous recent discovery that Ward Baxter -- previously of San Diego, and thus an associate of Nate Hubbard, and thus already an honorary IJG member -- is living in Portland. Ward had helped me out of a jam on Monday by subbing at a rehearsal (on tenor), and he helped me out of a jam last night when he played the gig (on bari). He is now officially "in the club," as far as I'm concerned (he'll be playing again tonight).

After resolving the bari issue, I had a strange phone conversation with the dude who was going to be subbing on the drum book at yesterday's last-minute rehearsal. Upon examining the drum charts, this droll fellow discovered that they were "wrong" (yes, that's the word he used) and that it would consequently be impossible for him "or anyone else" to sight-read them. (Does having the charts for almost a week really count as "sight-reading," by the way?) So he bailed.

What the fuck? I'm willing to own that the way I write charts has its idiosyncrasies, and I'm also willing to own that I have been spoiled by the amazing Schnelle, who seems to be able to read anything I put in front of him. But come on! I've had this band for long enough to have accumulated plenty of evidence that a competent sight-reader can make his or her way through my music (on the drums or any other instrument). It ain't easy, sure, but it can be done. Is the fact that you can't do it my fault? Like, do I really have to take responsibility for that too?

(Sorry for the rant; I was sorta having a bad day so far.) [EDIT: Clearly this rant was uncalled for, but I will leave it up here as evidence of the peevishness I describe in the next post.]

Anyway, that was what things were like before the gig. Here's what they were like during:

Yeah, that's a woefully fuzzy view of Reptet in full swing: note the blur (that means they are ripping it up). Note too that they are clearly beating us in the jazz-musicians-in-funny-outfits-derby.

Picture no. 2 is the IJG moments before downbeat, stage right. Front row: Jake McLean. Back row, l-r: Garner Pruitt, Matt Carr, Samantha Boshnack.

Finally, the IJG moments before downbeat, stage left. Front row, l-r: Rob Scheps (proving that it is indeed easy to be green), Scott Hall. Middle row, l-r: Tom Hill, Stan Bock. Back row, l-r: Paul Gabrielson (with back to camera), Ward Baxter.

I'll have more to say about the music and its reception after tonight's gig in Seattle. For now all I'll say is that I'm extremely grateful that such amazing musicians continue to make time to play in this group.

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