Well, another epic day all around on day 1 of New York With Weeds! Our orientation dinner at Kitano was fantastic with music provided by pianist GEORGE CABLES with Essiet Essiet on bass Victor Lewis on drums playing the music of Cedar Walton. It was phenomenal! After a quick rest we met back down in the lobby to head to JALC to hear Maria Schneider. Now keeping in mind (for those that know me) that I can be close minded, although appreciative, still somewhat close minded about what I like. Having said that I realize that there needs to be variety in the music on a tour like this. The Maria Schneider Orchestra is not something that I would check off as an absolute must see but I thought the group would like it. All I can say is holy s&*t. What an amazing concert. Without question some of the most beautiful music ever written. I stopped thinking about it as a jazz concert very early on in the program and looked at it more as an orchestral type of concert which in my opinion it was. Absolutely stunning! Highlights included the use of the accordion (Gary Versace) as a whole, some beautiful playing on a tune called Home by Rich Perry (tenor saxophone). Johnathan Blake on drums was phenomenal, a nice trumpet dual with Greg Gisbert and Michael Rodriguez and a beautiful encore piece featuring some beautiful work by Scott Robinson on alto clarinet. Just wonderful!
Then it was up SMOKE to catch Johnny O’Neal who was fantastic as always. Other than the music, the best part was the hang: Big George Coleman, Papa Lou Donaldson, David Hazeltine, Nat Reeves, Eric Alexander and Joe Farnsworth. It was so great! All my favorite people in the room at the same time!