Saturday, June 30, 2012

    jazz club --
my cognac snifter fills
with lost bop
           - JW, 6-30-12

The Doorman's Diary 5.29.12

It is a delightful jazz guitar quartet night—electric guitar, upright, sax, and drums. What I love about top-flight musicians is that a bunch that have never played together, when tossed together, can play together. The guitar leader has three new musicians that he’s never had here before (to be fair, he may play with them all the time and it may just be me that’s never seen them all play together). The tenor / alto man is noteworthy and the young kid on bass (who is actually underage) is daddio cool. The bass player has a velvet sound, which matches the music they’re playing. Several newbies have come tonight to the jazz club. A couple of women from a distant “safe” suburb made a special trip into the big city to hear jazz. A young lone wolf sat most of the night with a goofy grin of jazz joy on his face. “You belong here,” I say to him. “You know it, brother.” On the cusp of closing, a pair of women came in. The vivacious brunette in the pair functions as the fun fairy of friendship warming everyone with her smile. She has California confidence and makes sure to tell everyone that she’s visiting from California. If we sold BEST FRIENDS necklaces at the club, there would be a lot of us wearing half-heart necklaces with ST / ENDS engraved on them.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Doorman's Diary 6.22.12

Friday nights draw out cheapskates. More than once, people charged through the door and were flabbergasted to learn that there's a $5 cover charge. I tell them that this is a club and we have live music performed by professional musicians. They either have realization and pay or look at me blank faced and eyes blinking as though I asked them to write 500 words about the impact of molecular science on deep-space wormhole research. One cream-color linen sport-coat guy said he just dropped off his date at her condo because she has health issues and can't stay out late. They had passed our club and the unhealthy date had pointed and said: "Jazz club," which peaked his interest. He had stopped in to have a nightcap--a single drink. I waved him in. He said he wasn't from here so it would likely be just the one drink. I inquired as to where he"s from, expecting an exotic locale. He mentions a neighborhood probably seven or eight miles away. He stuck around for several drinks, made numerous trips outside to smoke, and talked incessantly about bringing a large group here and could we add tables here and there since they will want to mingle and walk around. As the night wore on, he wore thin. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Doorman's Diary 5.16.12

Warm summer night. The jazz club was air-condition cool, which felt great. Traffic was steady but the club was not jammed, which deterred some from coming in. Some just won’t enter unless there’s a crowd. To me, a jazz club is not the place to see and be seen. I’d just as soon not admit folks who think coming to the jazz club adds to their cred as being cool. Give me folks who come for the music. Tonight we celebrated the owner’s birthday, so the band did its jazzy version of happy birthday and she blew out a bunch of candles on a chocolate pancake. Among the folks here tonight were a jazz couple who had held their new CD release party at the club. The gentleman in the couple joined the quintet for a few songs. He plays jazz guitar but when he returned from his car trunk he had a small case containing a melodica or key-flute, which he used to harmonize with the trumpet and sax. It was an interesting addition, especially on the group’s version of the Thelonious Monk song, Blue Monk. Journal-man showed up with his journal and pen. He sat at the bar with his drink, enjoying the jazz and writing in his journal. A group of eight or nine friends of the bartender showed and filled the one side of the bar. The blues harp player came this night and at one point he was playing with the melodica and horns which made for a unique sound.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Doorman’s Diary: 6.9.12

I had arrived early and was enjoying coffee with the bartender – an early night ritual while the band arrives and gets the stage set up. Tonight a lone woman arrives and orders a drink to bide the time before the music starts. She is pleasant, but I sense stress or troubles. When I learn that the last time she had visited the club was more than three years ago I chide her in a good-natured way. She tells me her job is stressful and that it sucks the motivation from her to do much of anything. I ask… She tells me she’s a social worker. Has been for 16+ years. She’s seen a lot… horrible things that people do to each other, children abused, desperate situations… She admits that she’s not liking people much lately. She’s feeling burned out, which gets me thinking that it would be wonderful if people-intensive service professions had built-in paid sabbaticals. Work six years and get six months off to recharge before returning to work. My advice for getting by: escape to jazz… frequently. The club fills up, thanks in part to two lively groups of eight. The quintet was well into their version of the Thelonious Monk jazz standard, Blue Monk, when a regular lone wolf nods his good-bye as he departs. “Say hi to your father,” I say. Several weeks earlier I had stopped him on the way out and asked why he always leaves well before the first set is done. “I need to get up early tomorrow for my daily call from my dad—he’s in his 90’s, still lives on his own, and calls to let me know he’s still alive.” Very cool… and very jazz like.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Doorman's Diary 6-8-12

"Hello... Hello.... Hello..." Three cops on bicycles whizzed around the corner and each chirped their friendly greetings. I was surveying the newly hatching night from my post at the jazz club front door—actually just outside the door. The sunny, blue-sky day was becoming history in the making. With a 50% accuracy record, my prediction is that it will be a slow, relaxing night. There were two couples seated at the bar when I started the night. They were both reluctant to pay the cover charge. My deal: "Relax, enjoy a couple of songs. If you leave after that, no harm. If you stay, do the honorable thing and pay the cover—you'll be supporting live jazz in our city." Both couples left before my voo-doo hex could kick in, so no covers collected. An artist couple who've been in a few times before showed their intense, but friendly faces. I was zippy-thrilled to learn that they had closed on a small commercial building which will become their studio space and home. Now they just need to sell their bungalow located in a leafy suburb. Got my toes crossed for them. The quartet was terrific tonight, as always... even though the traffic was slow, as I had predicted earlier.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

   city still life --
the flower planter
tethered to a wall
           - JW, 6-6-12

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Doorman's Diary 6.1.12

It is a jazz lounge night—piano and vocals. The duo is good; but shouldn't I be eating a meal or carrying on an intimate conversation while sipping a martini, red wine, or cognac? Our big-sound club venue doesn’t seem right. When they play—and they play quite well—I yearn for a stand-up bass and maybe a horn. Previously there’s been an alto angel in the audience to judiciously toot on a couple of songs. It has helped. Tonight a conga player was asked to play his tumbadoras. During a break he retrieved his drums from his car. They sat on the stage with him back at the bar. The duet played a couple more songs that could have benefited from the conga. It was torture to see the pair of drums gleaming in the stage light but no one playing. Finally the conguero was called up and masterfully thumped a rhythm that blended beautifully with the song. The club was packed so when he finished, there was thunderous applause (much like in the past when a sax player stood in). He was allowed just one song, even though the crowd would have enjoyed more. Frustrated like everyone else I watched another scenario of frustration unfold. A young couple had entered the bar and sat at the bar. The young woman’s face was illuminated… not by romantic candlelight or the flush of love. She literally spent the entire time they were in the club intently gazing… not into the eyes of her companion but into the enthralling glow of her smart phone. The poor chump could not compete with the seduction of her text messages.

Friday, June 1, 2012

darken into menace
stone gargoyle
        - JW, 5-3-12