Chris Robinson @crmusicwriter

mostly music, sometimes books


On Seeing Dave Douglas and Keystone @ the Blue Room

Everybody is here
Jeff, Rich, Little Dave (he was late)
Brad, Fred
                  I don’t know them but Mary does
Dave Douglas and Keystone are here too
at the Blue Room.

I forgot that Marcus Strickland is in the band
I thought he’d be taller,
I don’t know why, if it
wasn’t for the neck, his tenor
would look like a bari.

The tables are bolted to the floor
and really close together – hard to get comfortable.
Young cats, who think they can play,
and think, that they know  
                        they’re here too.

Douglas checks his mic
  and plays along with the background music like the tune is in the book.
There are CDs at the counter – now I gotta go,
and pony up 40 bucks for the box set.

The young cats,
                            who think they know,
are telling Douglas all about their time @ UNT
                and how awesome it is
                to get one lesson a semester
                with Bobby Watson.
At the set break a fan says “hey Dave,”
like they’re friends, and asks him
              where he studied.
Douglas is a nice guy and tells him, although the fan
doesn’t get Douglas’ cues that the conversation needs to end.

I’m tapping my foot to the bassist
 who is in four.
Mary’s tapping hers to the rest of the band
 which is in seven.
Our feet only line up once in a while.

Jeff says Brad Jones’ Ampeg baby bass
is made out of fiberglass – it sounds great.
A quarter of the audience is confused,
like they’re here because “yeah, it’s jazz, it’s cool to like jazz,
            because jazz is art.”
                                                They don’t know.
They don’t know, just like
the new money Bellevue Brahmins didn’t know
why they were seeing the Branford Marsalis Quartet.
The high schoolers in the back were digging it, while
the new money Bellevue Brahmins,
were eating, and drinking, and were just there
to be there.  Remember when Branford said
                    “wow, we haven’t played a dinner show in a while.”

But most people here know though.
This group wouldn’t draw where I’m from.
Douglas doesn’t need a mic.
Strickland does though – great sound – just small.
He plays a P. Mauriat tenor
just like Mary’s, except it’s got the flute key touches.
Wow, his fingers go way off the keys
and they’re straight
                       – not the best technique, but he still kills.

I thought KC
would be far enough south
where I could get sweet tea,
but I can’t, even though
there are Waffle Houses here –
what I thought were signs
of being in the South.
Yeah – I know, at one time KC
was the southwest, but it’s still Missouri.

Douglas’ charts are long
                                                   – lots of pages.
He leans against the piano
while Strickland blows,
and smiles, while looking at the drummer,
who is having trouble with his music staying on the stand.
Strickland’s fingers may levitate off the keys,
but his embouchure never moves
                                                                   – unlike mine.
I look down at Mary’s purse
to make sure the disc Mr. Douglas signed
is still there.
It is Constellations by his Tiny Bell Trio
on hatOLOGY.
When I asked him to sign it,
it was as if
he was surprised someone owns it;
they only pressed like 5000 copies.

I know.

Shit this music is hard to play, complex,
but Brad Jones dances and grooves along with his bass,
rocking out,
so natural like he’s walking (but he ain’t walking).
I haven’t seen an effects rig that large on a Fender Rhodes before.
Strickland comes strong
at the beginning of a solo and knocks the audience out;
I say “oh, damn” with my dirty funk oh face and wriggle in my chair.

Man these tables are small,
my knees knocking their undersides.

One response to “On Seeing Dave Douglas and Keystone @ the Blue Room”

  1. Well, Chris. I have to say-I love this piece. I can see, hear, feel it all. I LOVE this! And I thought you didn’t like poetry. As you would say,”This is SWEET.”

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