Last week was the Halifax Jazz Concert. I went to two evening performances. The first was the Spontaneous Combustion Orchestra. The second was jazz piano player Oliver Jones. Very different kinds of music, both really good.
The Spontaneous Combustion Orchestra was an invention of Gerry Granelli. It was all improvisation. Each instrumental section of the Orchestra played as a group, talking to each other and then talking to other groups, musically speaking. Jerry had gathered together the best musicians with guitars, strings, horns and percussion. They had played separate concerts but the one I went to had all the musicians playing together. Only once was it a complete free-for-all and even that sounded inevitable, a result from the continuous build-up created by the separate musical groups.
Oliver Jones was a totally different experience. He played mostly after his friend Oscar Peterson, his fingers running over the keys with such speed, facility and tenderness. Familiar, beautiful music. The exciting element for me personally was to see my jazz piano teacher, Skip Beckwith, up there on stage playing bass, performing with Oliver Jones. I had met Skip in the lobby before the performance and he told me Oliver had called him in the afternoon and told him to “get your ass down here.” Lucky me!