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I had to sneak into the blues tent at last year’s New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival to catch a song by Ernie Vincent.
My friend and I were in the jazz tent securing good seats for sets by Ellis Marsalis and John Boutté (which was just fine by me) when I caught a break and she dispatched me to get a daiquiri.
I darted into the blues tent, took a few photos of Vincent, and started swaying. It’s hard not to when you listen to the Louisiana Music Hall of Famer play his Telecaster.
I didn’t, however, get to hear him play his classic groove, “Dap Walk.”
This year I will. We plan to camp in the blues tent all day on May 4. Vincent will be lacing his blues with funk. And then he’ll hit the first few chords of “Dap Walk” and the whole tent will start swaying.
Look for me. I’ll be the bearded guy down front with the biggest smile in the tent.
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Friday morning jazz:
1) Gerry Mulligan and Ben Webster: “Chelsea Bridge”
2) Art Pepper: “Angel Wings”
3) Lester Young: “There Will Never Be Another You”
4) Paul Desmond: “Bewitched”
5) Stan Getz: “The Way You Look Tonight”
6) Vijay Iyer: “Somewhere”
7) Bunky Green: “Little Girl, I Miss You”
8) Ruby Braff: “It’s Wonderful”
9) Stanley Turrentine: “You’ll Never Get Away From Me”
10) Kenny Garrett: “Ms. Baja”
At one point during his concert at Purdue Thursday, Brad Mehldau tucked his legs into a lotus position on the piano bench and turned to watch drummer Jeff Ballard’s solo. Mehldau gently nodded his head and smiled.
Mehldau’s piano playing echoed the serenity of that smile all night. It’s not that he always plays softly; he doesn’t. Mehldau’s notes are solid, strong. But he might have the lightest touch of any jazz pianist I’ve ever seen. As a result, Mehldau’s songs seem gentle, even when he picks up the tempo.
On Johnny Mandel’s “Where Do You Start” and the classic “Almost Like Being in Love,” Mehldau seemed to lose himself in the beauty of the songs, almost as if he’d forgotten anyone else was in the room. The songs were gorgeous.
On other tunes, such as his own “Dexterity” and “Seymour Reads the Constitution,” also lovely, Mehldau, Ballard and bassist Larry Grenadier seemed to finish each other’s musical sentences. As my friend said after the show, it’s clear they’ve been playing together for a long time.
Brad Mehldau’s set was a great way to end the Purdue Convocations jazz series. I’m looking forward to the announcement of the next season in a few weeks.