Wayne Shorter Quartet
Last Sunday boyziggy and I went to Berkeley to see the last Cal Performances concert in this year's subscription: the Wayne Shorter Quartet. I love jazz, Ziggy doesn't (he's called it "organized noise"), so it surprised me that he enjoyed the concert a lot more than I did. True, Shorter's stamina when playing the tenor and soprano saxophones, at the age of 72 I believe, was nothing short of phenomenal. The bassist, pianist, and particularly the drummer also kept up a frenetic pace. Basically the foursome came on stage, did four twenty-minute jam sessions, came back for one encore, and left. No words were spoken from the stage, other than occasional exclamations and grunts from the drummer. People were coming in late throughout the show - no one seemed to mind or notice. It was more like an outdoor jazz festival than a formal performance in a concert hall.
In any case, though I'd enjoyed Shorter's "Footprints" and other pieces we performed in my previous jazz classes, I didn't recognize any of the numbers the band performed. Any melodies were quickly twisted and obscured every which way. Which is just fine, as the band appeared to be having a helluva good time. It was a weird but good ending to my concert season. Though I've bought subscriptions to Cal Performances for the last several years, I don't think I will next year; I want to check out more music on this side of the Bay, particularly the San Francisco Symphony, and more of the local jazz scene.
Mozart viola quintet
Last Thursday I saw members of the San Francisco Symphony perform Mozart's viola quintet in Gm, KV 516, as part of the free Chancellor's Concert Series on the UCSF campus. I enjoyed it much more than most Mozart pieces, which, despite the composer's obvious genius, tend to bore me. Though it was interesting to see a piece written for an ensemble with two violas instead of the traditional string quartet, the first violin still dominated the work. I'll have to remember to ask my parents (father: cellist, mother: violist) if they've played this one.
Singing at Savanna
Also last Thursday, I sang at Savanna Jazz in the Mission at their weekly vocal jam session. When I got there at about 8:15, anticipating the band would start at about 8:30, I was alone in the club. Few people arrived over the next hour. I had already been stood up for coffee and lunch that day, Ziggy was working that evening, and it didn't look like the one friend who said he'd try to come was going to make it either. It was too dark to read, the waitress was very friendly though and kept me company while I nursed my Be Bop Bossanova rum drink. The band finally arrived late from another gig, but didn't start playing until after 10 p.m. Fortunately by that time Ziggy had gotten off work, so he came over.
I wanted to hold off on my second required drink until after I performed, but I was tired of waiting so ordered a second. I really should have followed Ziggy's lead and made my second drink just fruit juice, because by the time I finally took the stage at 11 p.m. I was not in such good shape. I made it through "God Bless the Child", which I hadn't performed in about four years, but it wasn't particularly pretty. "Satin Doll", which I had sung at Savanna just two weeks before, came out much better. I might just do that one or "Witchcraft", my other reliably strong number, every time, but I do want to vary my repetoire. If I could get a sax player to join me, I'd like to give "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" another try sometime.
Josh Kornbluth: Love and Taxes, and day trip
Ziggy and I rented a car for a day trip to Marin before seeing Josh Kornbluth perform his monologue Love and Taxes in San Rafael that evening. We thought it might be nice to walk around Sausalito, but on that beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon approximately 100,000 other people also thought that would be a nice idea, so we didn't stick around long.
Instead Ziggy took us to Bolinas. I had always wanted to visit there since according to Ernest Callenbach in Ecotopia Emerging it is here that the revolution will take place (Northern California, Oregon, and Washington becoming a separate independent nation). The Bolinians (?) are always removing their road sign from the highway to keep tourists out, but Ziggy had been there several times with the Mime Troupe so he knew where to turn. The town was tiny. We walked through the two-block downtown and then onto the beach before heading to San Rafael.
In San Rafael we had a delicious dinner at a tiny Puerto Rican restaurant called Sol Food. Then we had a walk and relaxed in their pleasant downtown area before heading to the Osher Marin JCC for the show.
I was delighted to find that we had front row seats; I guess ordering the tickets three months in advance was a good idea. We were at the stage right corner. Josh came out and part of the beginning of his monologue had him just a few feet in front of us. He actually waved to us as he was heading from stage right to left, after he'd already started the monologue even! It was a quick wave, not as much of an interruption as when we saw him at the SF Jewish Library, but definitely acknowledged and appreciated.
Josh was hilarious as always. I enjoyed how this show brought in elements from several of his previous monologues — Red Diaper Baby, Haiku Tunnel — in telling the story of how he met his wife and overcame his tax problems. I've now seen all five of his monologues in one form or another, though only three of them performed live.
We were hoping to get a chance to say hi to Josh afterward. Ziggy knew a member of his stage crew (he used to work with her twin sister) so we were chatting with her after the show, and she said that Josh's wife and son had attended so he had probably already left with them. Sadly, she was right, but we still had a good time talking with her. I hope to get another chance to see Josh in a couple of weeks when he is at Black Oak Books in Berkeley.