Thanks to the fine folks at PDX Jazz, who put on some great shows in Portland, as well as the kindness of strangers (like David Sanborn), our dance ticket was chock full of some great shows. Here's a short list of the best gigs that went down.
1. Steve Gadd - Los Angeles, CA
A coming out party for the Steve Gadd Band's Gadditude album, this show was the first of a five-night mid-October run at Catalina, the venerable LA supper club and jazz haunt.
As I wrote in my review at the time "the show was a 90-minute crash course on how to make vital, explosive jazz fusion: just mix impeccable musicianship, a collegial camaraderie, a free-wheeling sense of adventure and an enthusiastic audience."
"Some heavy weather blew across the Catalina stage on the Michael Landau original, 'Africa,' I noted, encouraging readers "not to be confused with the Toto tune of the same name. This adventure to the dark continent started with the ethereal chime of Landau’s guitar vibrating into a meld of Tony Williams funk and Headhunters’ keyboards."
Other highlights were the band’s interpretation of Jan Hammer’s 'Oh Yeah' (reminiscent of the keyboardist's "glory years") and Buddy Miles’ 'Them Changes,' "done up in an arrangement evocative of Chase meets Maynard Ferguson."
And, last but not least, the great Gadd himself offered a high five to my 13-year son as he was leaving the stage, the second time in three months that Skyler had a chance to shake hands with the best drummer on the planet. (We shook hands a third time at the L.A. Guitar, during a meet and greet the following day.)
2. Quartette Humaine - Vancouver, WA
The highlight of the Vancouver, Washington Wine and Jazz Festival that happened this past August, the appearance of longtime collaborators Bob James and David Sanborn along with Steve Gadd and young bassist Carlitos Del Puerto was nothing short of amazing.
James was his usual droll yet charming self, Gadd was a "loosely tight" as he's every been and Sanborn seemed to have the time of his life, working hard to keep up with the young Del Puerto's speed and confidence. Most remarkable was that the show, as Sanborn noted in an interview a few days later, was just the second time the band had played with Del Puerto.
3. Cannonball Adderley Legacy Band - Portland, OR
As I said in my review of this concert, which took place at Jimmy Mak's nightclub in Portland, the only bad thing about this concert was that it was too short (clocking in at just an hour).
Drummer Louis Hayes (who was with Adderley during the 1950s) was amazingly loose and limber give that he is in his late 70s. Trumpeter Jeremy Pelt was incendiary and pianist Rick Germanson was outrageous, especially on "Dat Dere." ("The pianist took full advantage of the opportunity, pounding out aggressive triplet figures in his right hand followed by rousing glissandos and fervent left hand figures, a four minute solo that was clearly the biggest crowd pleaser of the night").
With a 10-day festival coming up in February that will include the likes of Jack DeJohnette, Ahmad Jamal and Esperanza Spalding, this show may have trouble competing in the future. But, for now, it was one of the year's best.