Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Cool Smoke, Sweet Rhythms & Dizzy Fun

Hi there -

It’s been awhile...

I had some time off in June and July so I took that opportunity to hear and sit in with some folks. Bruce Barth had the weekend gig at the cool uptown NYC club called “Smoke.” Sang a tune or two with them which was a treat for me and they sounded great. In Rochester, NY at the Woodcliff Lodge I was a guest with pianist Eldar Djangirov and his trio. That was quite fun. And what energy! This great venue is sadly not happening for awhile due to a change of ownership. Pete McCrossen was the very gracious host and talent buyer. We will really miss him and the venue.

Next, in Kansas City to play a favorite venue in August, “The Blue Room.” Always good to be there with Bob, Rod and Todd. Saw many friends and lots of family. The Blue Room (part of the American Jazz Museum) is in the historic area of KC called “18th and Vine.” We love and appreciate them for being part of what keeps jazz ALIVE in KC. Back in NYC, I sat in at Sweet Rhythm with the wonderful tenor player, Bob Kindred (also with Kansas City roots). He and his band sounded sweet and lovely.

In September, from the Big Apple to the Little Apple. We played a very cool benefit event at the Kansas State University Alumni Center, Manhattan, KS, for Friend of the Beach Art Museum. I truly loved being 'back on the prairie' at that time of year. While hiking in the area we even heard coyotes and owls at night. (OK, we had to go searching for them a little, but they were there!) While in the area, we were also invited to visit a lovely horse and buffalo farm. We had wonderful hosts during that whole visit to Manhattan. We left there to play a private event in Austin, Texas at the Four Seasons. What a neat city! I wish I'd had more time in it.

Seattle at Jazz Alley was next. Always love being there. That trip also included singing the US National and Canadian anthems for a Seattle Mariner's vs. Toronto Blue Jay’s baseball game. I had done that before and it's a kick!

The next week was in Oakland, CA at Yoshi’s. My Mom and I took an over-night train together from Seattle to Oakland. That was really fun - trains ROCK! Yoshi’s is a great venue. I sang there with both Nancy King and Jon Hendricks. What great nights of music we had! The band (Bruce, Todd and Peter Barshay) played beautifully. We hope to do more of those shows with Jon and Nancy - the Footprints team. Also got to meet Rita Moreno who was in the audience. What a great lady! The wonderful singers Madeline Eastman and Paula West also dropped by.

Back to NYC at Dizzy's (Lincoln Center) with Nancy, Bruce, Todd and bassist Vicente Archer for a great week there. Many 'luminaries' drop in throughout the week: Wynton Marsalis, Eric Clapton (who had been playing across the hall), Mark Murphy, Freddie Cole, Jackie Cain, Helen Merrill and Barbara Feldon. The pianist David Budway played with us the last night. It was great fun.

Our next stop with Nancy was in St. Paul, MN at the Fitzgerald Theatre (where the movie, “Prairie Home Companion” was recently filmed). Loved working there and saw many friends and family. Pianist Laura Caviani, along with Bob and Todd sounded beautiful.

Following were some one-nighters, double billing with Diane Schuur. We played beautiful theaters in Birmingham, AL; Atlanta, GA; and Charlottesville, VA. Great fun. From there we went West to another great venue in El Cerritos CA. in their Performing Arts Center. Todd and I played with favorite 'local' LA players: guitarist, Larry Koonse and bassist Tom Warrington. We were treated to great audiences in a great venue.

Heading East to the Windy City for gigs at a favorite historic Chicago 'joint' (the one and only owner- Dave Jemilo would approve of that term), “The Green Mill.” He runs that place like nobody's business and we love being there. The first time I played there (one of my first 'national' gigs way back when) he gave me a “life-time verbal contract” which I'm happy to still be fulfilling. Todd and I played with great Chicago bassist Larry Kohut and wonderful Seattle pianist Randy Halberstadt. Bill McGlaughlin joined us there and was accompanied by many of his radio colleagues at WFMT.

The next stops were in Omaha and Lincoln. We did a masterclass at my alma mater, University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) for music students. They were held in the same auditorium where as a student, I had attended soooo many concerts, given both my junior/senior piano recitals, and heard Dizzy Gillespie and Mel Torme give masterclasses. It was quite a feeling! That night we performed for the UNO Alumni folks and were happy to do so.

In the University of Nebraska at Lincoln (UNL) we performed at the beautiful Lied Center with the Nebraska Jazz Orchestra. They've been together for over 25 years. It was thrilling to play with such a great big band. We did lots of masterclasses with UNL students while there and really enjoyed it. Next was in Denver at a great new club called The Soiled Dove. Strange name for a jazz club but don't let that throw you. It's a great place and I hope to go back soon.

That’s it for now. The year will soon be over which is hard to believe. Peace and love to all and
Thank you for listening . . .