Two nights ago I played with Ben Lamar Gay at Chicago's Hideout Inn. It was the last Tuesday night of Ben's December residency at this legendary venue. The first improvised set had Ben on cornet, voice and synth, Mikel Patrick Avery on drumkit and electronics, and Carlos Pride on African talking drums and Hawaiian lap steel guitar. Ben rode the pulsating rhythms of the drummers, taking us with him on his exploration of moods and sounds.
At the break we got me setup, with Ben telling me that, except for a duet between Mikel and Rob Frye, the second set was all about me and the sitar. Oh really?! Carlos laid down a bed of lap steel blues changes and I took off. I remember some places my hands and fingers went, some bends of the strings, a shout or two from the audience. But what I played, I cannot really tell you. That's one of the beauties of Creative Music, you and your band mates fly, while listening and responding to each other and the people who came for the experience.
After clearing the stage and mingling a bit, I went with trumpeter Jaimie Branch to the green room for my first interview of this revived project. Jaimie was very open and thoughtful, as we covered a wide range of topics, including: challenges she's faced in her career and the success of her 2017 album Fly or Die; feminism and the #MeToo movement; living and teaching in New York; and her preference for creative music over the more competitive straight ahead jazz scene.
In observing Jaimie Branch's interactions with the musicians who played or attended the Hideout show, I could see how much she enjoys being a part of the music community. She's warm and funny, at ease in a world of her own choosing. Her joy is expressed in her music. Check out Fly or Die.
Creativity flourishes in this world of ours. Support live music.