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Bob James Trio at Blue Note November 16, 2018

Posted by Mike C. in Hockey, Jazz, Music, Personal, Sports, Travel, Weather.
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A little mid-November snow wasn’t going to keep me from getting to the Blue Note Jazz Club in Greenwich Village last night to see the Bob James Trio’s 8PM set. This was my first time inside Blue Note since I saw the Chick Corea Elektric Band in October 2016. It was also the first time I’d seen Bob since I saw Fourplay in December 2015, and the first time seeing him solo since May 2007 at the defunct IMAC (Inter-Media Art Center) in Huntington.

The story begins several hours before showtime. A nor’easter was about to bring what I assumed was going to be light snow and sleet that wouldn’t accumulate much before changing to rain. I based my assumption on Wednesday’s forecast. Little did I know that forecast models now called for a longer period of moderate-to-heavy snow. A winter weather advisory was issued from 1PM to 10PM and called for 2 to 5 inches. Wantagh ended up with the max. Plus, there were the usual gusty winds a nor’easter provides. It wasn’t comparable to Sandy, but was a nuisance.

For reference, here are a few photos in the snow’s early stages, at 1:43 PM:

2:17 PM:

…and 3:14 PM:

I chose to take a later LIRR train, the 4:59, to Penn Station so I wouldn’t have to wait outside Blue Note in the elements for an hour. Indeed, my father drove me to the Wantagh LIRR station just after 4:30 in heavy snow on unplowed roads. I waited on the platform for about 20 minutes, seeking shelter by the main stairway and escalator until the train arrived. At that time, I walked closer to the head of the train and sat down in a railcar.

The Rangers were playing the Islanders at Barclays Center in Pacific Park, Brooklyn, which meant I was surrounded by fans of both teams (I’m a Rangers fan, myself) until Jamaica, a major hub, when they would change to an Atlantic Terminal train. As the train approached Jamaica, the conductor relayed bad news: due to signal problems west of Jamaica, the train could not proceed to Penn Station. Passengers bound for Penn were diverted to the E train where tickets would be cross-honored.

MTA workers directed a throng of passengers through what was now sleet to the underground subway station. I was closely followed by Jeanette, my seatmate who boarded at Rockville Centre (or maybe it was St. Albans).

We sat together for about a half hour as the E train proceeded through Queens and into Manhattan. She exited at 50th Street and I said it was nice meeting her.

After a few more stops, the train had reached West 4th Street. I walked up to West 3rd and crossed 6th Avenue, tiptoeing through snow and slush, as sleet continued to fall, until I finally arrived at Blue Note.

I checked my coat and was fortunate enough to get my old favorite seat at the table next to the stage. The claustrophobia that drove me away from that seat before Lee Ritenour’s set in August 2016 was gone. I made fast friends in my a few of my tablemates: Debbie, who went to high school with Bob’s Fourplay bandmate Nathan East, and married couple Tom and D’Lissa. My night was more enjoyable for having met and spoken with them.

The Bob James Trio began their set at 8:23; better late than never.

Bob James played piano:

Fender Rhodes:

…and both on “Night Crawler”:

Bob was joined by Michael Palazzolo on acoustic bass:

…and Billy Kilson on drums:

Billy’s “Mister Magic” solo:

The set consisted of nine songs, plus one encore:
1. Bulgogi
Originally heard on: Espresso (2018)
Bulgogi is Korean grilled beef.

2. Feel Like Making Love (Roberta Flack cover)
Originally heard on: One (1974)
Bob played Fender Rhodes throughout, just as he did on One and on Roberta’s original.

3. Night Crawler
Originally heard on: Heads (1977), Straight Up (1996), Live at the Milliken Auditorium (2015)
Bob began on Rhodes, then transitioned to piano, playing both at once along the way.

4. Shadow Dance
Originally heard on: Espresso (2018)

5. Il Boccalone
Originally heard on: Espresso (2018)
This song was named after an Italian restaurant in, of all places, Tokyo. It was a duet for Bob and Michael.

6. Mister Magic (Grover Washington, Jr. cover)
Originally heard on: Espresso (2018)
Bob performed on Grover’s Mister Magic album, playing Rhodes on the original, but piano here, as he did on Espresso.

7. Topside
Originally heard on: Espresso (2018)
Bob started on Rhodes, then switched to piano, with a backing track playing throughout on his iPad, which required him to wear headphones.

8. Mojito Ride
Originally heard on: Espresso (2018)
This song also had a backing track.

9. Westchester Lady
Originally heard on: Three (1976), All Around the Town (1981), Live at the Milliken Auditorium (2015)
This song had a call and response between the trio and ended with an accelerando that led me to polka dance.

10 (Encore). Angela (Theme from Taxi)
Originally heard on: Touchdown (1978), All Around the Town (1981), The Genie (1983), Angels of Shanghai (2007), Live at the Milliken Auditorium (2015)
Bob began on Rhodes, then ended the set on piano.

After the set, I asked if there was a meet and greet afterward. In a way, yes. After saying goodbye to Debbie, Tom, and D’Lissa, I and a few others congregated outside Bob’s dressing room, where his manager Sonny Abelardo let us in one at a time. I reintroduced myself to Bob, he signed my copy of Espresso, and we posed for a picture:

Sonny called us the Vest Brothers. I liked that.

After leaving the room, I briefly commiserated with Billy Kilson about our misadventures getting to Blue Note.

Back downstairs, I claimed my coat, bundled up, and walked back to the West 4th subway station. By this time, it was raining lightly, but I had to tiptoe through and around slush to cross 6th Avenue.

40 minutes on the E train later, I was back at Jamaica:

I boarded the 11:08 train, which was a few minutes late, along with some happy Islanders fans and dejected Rangers fans, as the Isles beat the Blueshirts 7-5.

After taking this picture…:

…I boarded the train and headed for Wantagh.

I found through a couple I sat next to – they had come from a play – that service had been restored west Jamaica and I could have boarded at Penn Station without needing to take the E train all the way to Jamaica. But I didn’t want to take any chances, so it was the E train all the way.

Dad picked me up in Wantagh and took me home. At 12:05 AM, my adventure was complete. I hope the weather is better when I go see John Scofield’s Combo 66 on November 29.

Thank you to everyone I met last night. It was great to meet you, and in Bob’s case, to see you again.

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Comments»

1. John Scofield’s Combo 66 at Blue Note | MikeChimeri.com - December 2, 2018

[…] weeks after braving wintry conditions to see the Bob James Trio at Blue Note Jazz Club in Greenwich Village, I returned to the legendary venue to see […]


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