Monday, September 5, 2011
The Doorman’s Diary: 9.3-4.11
A cool, intermittent rainy eve. Perfect late-summer night for jazz. I arrived early with a X-Large cup from a local café. The bartender saw me put the big cup on the car roof as I retrieved my coat from its cedar hanger in back. He had two glass coffee mugs sitting out. We caught up while the band filtered in and early-bird customers arrived, including an olderish pair of couples. The first gentleman paid the cover for his pair. The second guy hesitated and said, “I thought if you arrive before nine you don’t pay!” I responded, If you have a quick drink and are gone in the next 36 minutes before the band starts, you’re right—no cover—otherwise I’ll need 10 bucks for you and your old lady. He pulled out his wallet, pried it open, releasing a couple of moths and reluctantly passed me a tenner that he stared at like it was a photo of his mom standing in front of the family 1956 DeSoto Firesweep sedan. Smart move, Mr. Big, I said while snatching the bill from his quivering hand. The jazz quintet started up and I noticed the sax was sounding distant and muddy. I caught the tenor’s attention and cupped a hand behind my ear and jerked my thumb up and down a few times. Short of semaphoric international maritime signal flags, I thought the message was clear. They played through the first set, including a couple of Sonny Rollins tunes where the sax gets to step forward, before we could connect. “Were you trying to tell me something,” the saxman asked? Ugh! A new battery for the tenor’s wireless mike and the band was back to sounding exceptional. The night’s highlight: A 10-minute drum solo where the drummer incorporated wild banshee, drum corp precision, and Ravel Bolero soft-building-to-loud drumming before smoothly emerging back into the song. The crowd loved it, giving him a standing ovation.