James De La Garza
SETLIST (click to listen/download)
1) Flux in a Box
Solos: Will Vinson, alto sax; Mike Holober, keyboards
Solo: Sam Sadigursky, tenor sax
Solos: Mark Patterson, trombone; Sebastian Noelle, guitar
Solo: Erica vonKleist, alto flute and soprano sax
Solo: Dave Smith, fluegelhorn
I had a blast on Friday. The band was on and the audience was with us. The rhythm section is becoming familiar enough with the music now that they're starting to surprise me (in a good way). I've probably heard "Lizard Brain" more often than any of my other charts — it's the earliest piece of mine in the Secret Society book, and in a way, it's the most tradionally "big band" thing we do (if you just ignore the intense chromaticism, the screech-honk meltdowns, and the fact that most of it is in 13, it sounds just like Thad Jones, I swear), but tonight is the first night I felt like the piece really came together, thanks to some supple, dynamic, locked-in playing from Jon and Matt, and an out-of-the park solo from Josh Sinton. (For a completely different side of Josh's playing, check out his MySpace page, featuring his group Holus Bolus.)
"Phobos" has undergone some revisions since the first time we played it, back in Novemeber. Sam has more space at the beginning of his solo, and the buildup is more gradual and more satisfying, I think. This was also the official unveiling of Jon Wikan's new secret weapson — the electro-cajon. (So if you were wondering "what the hell is that weird percussion sound?", wonder no more.)
One of the great pleasures of running a big band (which it helps to remind yourself of when you are about to cave under the weight of the sheer aburdity of running a big band) is that you get to hear a lot of amazing players navigate your music and bring out completely different aspects of it. Dave Smith has rehearsed with us before but never played on one of our gigs, and he brings an energy all his own to his solo on "Transit." And Mark Patterson is our regular lead trombone player, but before Friday night, he hadn't had the chance to blow — he handles the solo on "Ritual" with the requiste hardcore aplomb.
André Canniere, James De La Garza, Christian Pincock, and Ben Griffin also made their Secret Society debuts, and it is, as always, an honor to work with players who are so completely committed to the music.
This is the first time I've recorded a gig with my new Edirol R1, which is a very cool portable digital recorder with one big drawback — the interface for monitoring the recording level is completely obtuse. (Would it have killed them to add a couple of meters to the front?) So I'm afraid I set the level way too low, and consequently there's a bit more hiss than usual. I'll get the hang of it for next time.