Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cool Man Cool

Back in 1963 I sat on the floor at the feet of Sweet Emma Barrett and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band in New Orleans, grinning from ear to ear with the utter joy of listening to greatness.

When Pavarotti hits nine High Cs in Donizetti's La Fille du Regiment, I freeze in utter disbelief.

When Renee Fleming sings just about anything.

Watching a wood carver in Chamonix, France, hand-carving a little figurine with the skills of a great craftsman of a lost art.

Devouring any of a number of paintings by Van Gogh.

Watching Alex Toth or Sergio Aragones draw.

These are people who, at some point in their lives, seemed to no longer think about what they are doing, they just ARE what they are doing. Their craftsmanship is so much a part of who they are and what they are that their work simply flows out them full blown onto the paper or into the air like magic.


Last night, in a remote corner of Glendale, CA, in a truly non-descript building that's been converted to a video production facility, I had the distinct privilege of sitting in on a live internet concert featuring Grant Geissman and his Cool Man Cool band. If you've ever had the chance to experience a performance that brings tears to your eyes you'll have an idea of how good this intimate little concert was. There was barely enough room for the 5-piece band and about 20 guests, a couple of cameramen and a handful of technicians, all packed into a 15' x 20' room.

One of Geissman's closing numbers, Cuba Libre, had me laughing and teary-eyed at the same time. Nobody's fingers can possibly move that fast and, witnessing it from five feet away, I still can't believe what I saw and will never understand how it's done. Magic. He seemed to be hitting 20 - 30 notes per second at some points, his fingers flying up and down the neck of his guitar like the wings of a hummingbird.

Back that up with a few phenomenal players behind him and you're talking about a world-class jazz band.

Emilio Palame on piano, Trey Henry on bass and tuba, Ray Brinker on drums and Brian Scanlon on woodwinds and flute.

Palame is a mighty fine piano player who seems to thoroughly enjoy playing and seems to have a limitless ability to play anything well. He also has fast fingers that tap danced all over the keyboard like they were red hot.

Hidden in the corner on drums, Brinker deserved more of a spotlight, or at least one good solo. Amazing, complex rhythms and subtleties punctuated his fantastic work.

Sitting in on two numbers were Van Dyke Parks on accordion and Grant's music mentor Jerry Hahn on guitar.


It was a wonderful two-hour experience that defies description. Check the schedule for opportunities to view this Network Concert at: http://www.networkconcerts.com/

If you can't find it or see it, the next best thing would be to go out and get the Grant Geissman Cool Man Cool CD.

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2 Comments:

At August 18, 2009 at 10:04 PM, Anonymous Paul said...

Amen to that! I was there and for once, didn't have to work a camera which meant I could let my body go. Nothing more frustrating than to listen to Grant and the boys play and have to hold perfectly still. With Van Dyke and Jerry playing along, well, my life got that much closer to being perfect.

 
At August 22, 2009 at 8:27 AM, Blogger Dave said...

I'm not too big on music . . . but I love a well-turned phrase!

Great write-up, Bob!

 

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