Friday, February 15, 2013

stairways... Al falls 'up' them into the arms of Jazz for Valentine's Day...

Submitted by Al Kanovsky 2/15/13

Back in the day, an actor named Charles Boyer (not our Charlie Boyer) sang a song in a film. The title was "We'll Build a Stairway To Paradise". It was a perfect Valentines Day kind of song. Thursday night I climbed the 25 or so, straight up steps that bring you into "Upstairs at the Van Dyke". A climb that brought me to JAZZ paradise; The Emmet Cohen trio with Emmet on piano, Daniel Susnjar (drums), Dion Keith Kerr IV(bass) with guest John Splithoff as a featured vocalist. First off "kudos" and congratulations to the faculty of the JAZZ program at the U.M. All of these young men are the products of their teachings. Each one is a star in their own right. I had specifically come to the Van Dyke to hear Emmet but the rest of these young men would bring me out to listen to each of them individually. They will carry the torch for the future of JAZZ. Every table was taken and they were 2 deep at the bar. I squeezed my (considerable) bod into a spot at the bar next to a guy named James McLean aka Jimmy Mac. He is convivial kind of guy who had also come out to hear Emmet. Rick Katz came for a couple of numbers and Jeanette, like I, stayed until they threw us out. There were also some fans who had heard Emmet on the recently completed JAZZ cruise. Rolly (Rolando) was Jimmy Mac's and my bartender and he pours a mean glass of wine (or two or thr---never mind). John Splithoff opened his set with The Beatles "All My Lovin'". Oops. It wasn't the Beatles "All My Lovin'". It was John's. He made the song his own. I mean that literally. Outside of the lyric the song belonged to him. He did it again with Nat "King" Coles "Sentimental Reasons". No hint of Nat, all John. The band played. The audience clapped, tapped, "Oh Yeah"ed and "Wow"ed.  Emmet, Daniel and Dion IV's solos were "stand out". Each one bringing me those special "moments" that are the reason I love JAZZ so. 

I was lost in the music when a vision came to me. Billie Holiday. There she was right across the bar from me. A gardenia in her up-swept hair, a pin-dot, collared dress, bright red lipstick. I shook my head in disbelief but she was still there. I pulled my somewhat sodden self off the barstool and approached "Lady Day". As I got closer I knew it wasn't a vision but a real live person whose name turned out to be Alaina. Whenever she goes out to listen to "JAZZ" she dresses up like Billie. She feels it brings her closer to the music. She was with Tristan, who looked at me kind of funny while I spoke with Alaina. He realized it was all in the spirit of the moment and we shook hands when I returned to the other side of the bar. I wondered if he felt relieved. 

It's a time worn story. Old guy(really old), beautiful young woman, a bar, a glass of wine----"on and on, on and on, on and on". 

ote. John Splithoffs student recital is at Guzman Hall on Tuesday (free). Hey----Riverwalk Blues & Music Festival (music and film) this weekend in Fort Lauderdale. Look for me and say "Hello" but wait until it's between songs puhleeeze.    

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Posted by Jazz & Blues Florida 
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