I had a great few days in Chicago last week. The trip started on Thursday evening with the Rob Mazurek food tour (condensed version). When Rob was in New Orleans a few weeks ago, much food was consumed. I say much food, in that we sampled many of New Orleans’ great offerings, not that we just ate 43 poboys every time we sat down. Well, maybe once, but…
Our first stop was for a jibarito (or jibaro) at this place: on California. A jibaro is essentially a steak sandwich, but instead of bread, it uses fried plantains. This ROCKS! Most excellent. Seasoned just right, and slammin’. Rob and I split one, because there were a few more places on our list, and I had to play later.
Our next stop was supposed to be for tacos, I believe, but the place was closed, so we moved west to Johnnie’s for an Italian beef. I had a combo (which is beef and sausage) with sweet peppers, and an Italian lemon ice. This stuff is heaven. Texturally, it reminded me very much of what I call a Bucktown special, but the seasoning was very different, and amazing. The thing it has in common with a Bucktown special is that you use LOTS of napkins if you do it right.
After I went to Rob’s and laid on the couch and moaned for a while, I went to Elastic for my first gig of the trip. The opening set was a solo percussion set from Tatsuya Nakatani. His solo stuff is really enthralling. The second set was a quartet with Tatsuya, Jim Baker on piano, Josh Abrams on bass, and myself. I was really quite curious about what would come out, with Josh, Jim and I coming from essentially jazz-ish backgrounds, and Tatsuya’s solo set was very much in a soundscape type place. It was all about subtleties of sound, and I play trombone…that’s not usually too subtle. It was great. The four of us found several places to meet, and the music was tons of fun to make. The people listening seemed to enjoy it as well.
On Friday, the bulk of the day was spent rehearsing for the Lucky 7s concert that night. Our concert was at Kilbourn Park, and was part of the Jazz Institue of Chicago’s Jazz City series. What a great scene. It was a free concert in a park building. The only down side was that the park building it was in was a gym, so the acoustics were less than ideal. The sound guy was good, and it was the best sounding musical experience I have ever had in a gym, but it was still a gym. There were lots of people there, including many children, which I really love to see. Kids joyfully dancing to non-mainstream music is a sign that there is hope for society. The Jazz Institute does some really good work there in Chicago. I’d like to offer special thanks to Dan Melnick and Lauren Deutsch for making that concert happen.
After our gig, Jeb was playing with The Engines at The Velvet Lounge. They sounded great. It was nice to just sit and listen to live music, without having to worry about playing the next set, or MCing, or anything.
Saturday afternoon, Jeb and I spent some time dealing with mixing the new Lucky 7s material, if you can call stuff recorded last July new. We made some good headway, so there still is a chance that a new Lucky 7s CD will be out sometime this decade.
Saturday night, I played my quartet book with my Lucky 7s colleagues Matt Golombisky (bass) and Quin Kirchner (drums), plus alto saxophonist Greg Ward, at a nice cozy space called Brown Rice. The venue records the shows, and the recording sounds great. I’ll post some excerpts at some point. I had never played with Greg before, and it was a blast. He is a great musician, and always did just what the music needed, even if I didn’t know the music needed that until he did it. If it is at all within my control, I’ll make more music with Greg in the future.
Lousy phone pic… L to R: Me (looking as tired as I was), Quin, Matt, and Greg