We Got a Taste
Don't tell anybody, but I heard live music. It was fun, the forbidden under-aged backseat of the car kind. I can't share because, like everything really amazing, it all happened in the moment.
The new normal is desensitizing me. I'm in a foggy sort of low-level depression. A Blue Note zombie, waiting to be called back to The Press Room, The Dance Hall and the other venues.
I mean no disrespect or lack of gratitude to those working hard to play and present online shows, but, I'm still trying to reconcile myself to virtual jazz. Perhaps a tactful food analogy will help. While we're getting to be ok at making pizza in a modified grill contraption, what I really want is to sit inside the dark cool Bratskellar and eat a Dilemma while drinking two domestic beers from frosted mugs before walking out into the blistering summer heat.
Tuesday afternoon (6/16/2020) I received an email from Stefan Vittori that his band, Bucket List, was going to be having their first practice in several months in the Japanese garden behind the office building that we share (I’m a tenant of Stefan and his wife). I can see the garden from the bathroom window, but my wife, Jennie, felt we should go out on the lawn to watch. In order to publish this I had sign to a confidentiality agreement, in blood, that I would not discuss the quality of their playing at this first-in-a-longtime practice session. Not a problem, my critical ear did not even show up. It was just so great to hear live music.
Bucket List is, Stefan, sax and flute; John Hoar, trumpet; Justin Leach (a 2020 UNH Graduate - congrats), trombone; Mike Harrison, piano; Bill Trafidlo, bass; Tony Gallo, percussion, and Sebastian Sink, drums. For more on the band, they were featured in the Seacoast Jazz Notes "On the Scene" article "A Bucket List Theory" in June of 2019. Click the title to read the article.
When I heard they were practicing outside at 5 pm, the thought was to walk up to my house at the end of the day (I have a brutal commute), grab something other than water or coffee, and bring down a couple of chairs. During the afternoon, Stefan set up the practice space, appropriately distanced, along with a table for his family and two chairs for Jennie and I, off to the side on what would be 1st row balcony in an very intimate venue.
The garden is really a passion of Stefan’s. A beautiful space and this might just be in its best year yet. It was a perfect June evening on the Seacoast. 70s in the sun, 60s in the shade, clear as crystal and smelling almost of summer. When young lovers dream about wedding weather, it's Tuesday night.
I can’t write about the playing because of the gag-order, but the sound absolutely stunned me. I don’t know if Stefan realized what a jewel of an outdoor acoustic space he's created. I hate to tease you, but it is as good as I’ve heard on the Seacoast. Mike Harrison’s electric piano and Bill Trafidlo’s electric bass (he played mostly stand-up) obviously had to be amplified, but, otherwise, I don’t think any amplification was needed.
The truly great news is that I've discovered an effective non-psychotic anti-depressant. It centered me and cleared the fog, with only pleasant side effects. After having had a taste of live music again, I can state unequivocally that the last three months did not happen. When you hear it live again, the 100+ days of silence will magically be deleted. Sitting on the lawn overlooking a tranquil garden while hearing seven cats practice tastefully funkafied versions of jazz tunes made it all better for a couple of hours. "One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain." - Bob Marley.