There are gigs which you have to go to. Not necessarily because of what they might be like, but because of where the musician has been.This may be a category all of its own; I think of them as ‘Hem of the Robe gigs’. Simply getting close, is enough to absorb some of the magic and mystery of someone who has been part of the creation of this music we love. Of course everyone is to some extent, but I’m thinking of the originators and innovators. A conversation with John of the excellent Broad Street Jazz – one of the few surviving specialist CD shops left, check it out if you are ever in Bath – brought this to mind.
We discussed in passing the visit of the McCoy Tyner Quartet to Bath earlier this year. I think its fair to say Tyner is not at the peak of his powers now and he certainly looked frail. But there was an undimmed ‘in the bones’ grooviness about his playing still. And it was McCoy Tyner. Those crashing left hand chords are still there and that ‘fourths sound’ in the voicings and modal vamps. Its like he invented it (ok so I’m sure there were others). Being there was special.
This may be something which is a bit particular to living away from the centre of things. There would certainly be more opportunities in New York. So may be touching the hem of the robe is another way of saying – take your chances while you can.
Other hems recently; Paul Bley with Gary Peacock and Paul Motian (Birdland, New York. Sumer 2007) – the roll call of their past collaborations pretty much spans all the nooks and crannies of post war jazz.
I’ll add more as they occur!