The second Tuesday on the Terrace at the Museum of Contemporary Art was truly something special. Bassist and composer Matt Utlery and his trio joined forces with four-time Grammy award winners Eighth Blackbird for an exciting evening of chamber jazz, or whatever they call it. The evening got off to a rough start, with rain setting in after the first number. After a 40-minute delay, the players came back for an 80-minute set. The music is very hard to describe. Certainly there were bits of Ravel running throughout it, but I also heard Joe Sample's piano from the Crusaders, some Philip Glass minimalism, and some lyrical jazz bass solos. If you pushed me, I'd also say that there were strains of Frank Zappa's orchestral music and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, but on a very unamplified basis. Ulery even sang on the second from last number.
From a photographer's standpoint, the MCA stage was a nightmare tonight. There were eight musicians on stage (really the cement patio), which makes it very difficult to shoot clean backgrounds and operate one object from another (in the terms of the trade, avoiding proximity issues). As is often the case, persistence pays off. During the second to last number, an audience member in the second row aisle left, giving me the clear shot of the clarinet and flute players.
As usual, the crowd was quite diverse and interesting. I had a brisket sandwich in the drizzle while listening to a couple who were obviously on a first date--you could hear the tentativeness. I notice him buying her a glass of wine later in the evening as she put her money away, so they were obviously clicking. And then there were the high school couples who had obviously been on many dates. Good to see them turning out for some good music. On the lawn, there were a number of kids learning to cartwheel, and then there was the one-year old who liked to clap during the performance--even though he clapped silently, his parents still removed him to higher ground.
Looks like it will be a good season, particularly if we get some evening sunshine.
Copyright 2016, Jack B. Siegel. All Rights Reserved