What It Takes

Weeks ago, I realized that this project on musical women would require certain behaviors of me. It would push me to:

  • delve deeply
  • explore widely
  • get uncomfortable
  • create consistently
  • be spontaneous
  • act courageously
  • produce produce produce

Last night was my first challenge. I spotted Jaimie Branch in the lobby as the audience waited for the house to open. Apparently Shy Shanta had come to Constellation. Zahra had to literally force me to approach Jaimie. Once I did, we had a friendly exchange, even agreeing to a time next week for a conversation.

The concert was amazing and inspiring. Tomeka Reid played in a trio setting with percussionist Michael Zerang and bassist Tatsu Aoki. Each improvised piece conveyed a certain mood or color, inviting the musicians to explore a different instrumental voice and technique. On one standout piece, Tatsu was bowing entirely on the bass' harmonics, producing eerily high melodies, while Tomeka provided bass lines on the cello and Michael's fingers danced on the doumbek.  Then the bass and cello switched roles for highs and lows. The entire set was a beautiful journey of sound and color.

The second set was drummer Hamid Drake's tribute to Alice Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders. It opened with a hauntingly beautiful interpretation of Alice Coltrane's Turiya and Ramakrishna, with Jason Adasiewicz on vibes, Josh Abrams on bass, and Hamid on drums. Hamid then spoke about Alice, Pharoah, and his other mentors, including recently departed Willie Pickens, dedicating the concert to all of them.

He then brought Ari Brown and Jaimie Branch to the stage to play one of Ari's tunes (I didn't catch the title, but remember the song). It was a rousing rendition, at the end of which Ari turned and shook Jaimie's hand. It was a touching gesture, from an elder to a younger player; a humble moment of appreciation and validation that I've never before seen.

The concert continued with Hamid's powerful, fluid drumming through Alice's Journey in Satchidananda and Pharoah's The Creator Has a Master Plan. Some of my all-time favorites had me and Zahra singing "The Power of Love" on the back row. What a night!


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