Back in Chicago, July 2006

Back in Chicago after a long hiatus, got into town on Friday the 7th to play with Dragons at Heaven over in Wicker Park. I had taken the bus down to St Louis to visit Jen & her folks, coming back the bus was a bit late – I got in town at about 10:15, but the show was supposed to start at 10. We were to play two sets, so Jason & Tim played as a duo for the first one. I got in just as they were finishing their last improvisation, after a short break we played our set to some of the Chicago people – as we played more folks showed up – it was a pretty good turnout. It is a different feeling, not living in Chicago and playing here – in a good way.
The next night I played at the Charleston with Josh Berman, Nate McBride and Frank Rosaly. Used to always have a good time when I would play tunes there, so wanted to do it again. A plus is that the Charleston is now a smoke-free bar, so you don’t get bombarded by the typical Chicago smoke clouds. We played alot of tunes by Monk, some which I’d never played before. McBride is really on top of those charts, he’s good friends with a certain someone who made a lot of transcriptions of Monk’s music. That music is tough to pull off – we definitely had a good time playing, but it also re-enforced my respect for the music.
Next up was getting together with the 774th Street Quartet – myself on alto, Guillermo Gregorio on alto & clarinet, Keefe Jackson on tenor and bass clarinet, and Thomas Mejer from Switzerland on contrabass saxophone. Interesting how things work out – we got together as a quartet when Thomas was in town back in 2003 I think, part of the Lucerne / Chicago sister city exchange (which is mainly kept going by Lucerne’s government). Last spring we recorded the music we brought to the group (each of us two pieces) as George Hansen resurrected his label Bloody Murder and wanted to put out a recording by us. Now a year later the CD is finished so on this occasion that I’m in town Thomas came from Lucerne and we played at Deadwax records up on Lincoln Ave on Sunday afternoon, Live on Air at WNUR in Evanston and on Tuesday night at Elastic. It was fun to play that music again – each of us our very different in our approach to writing music and improvising, and balancing the different personalities is good times.
The show at Elastic went well, a good turnout including some people that I knew that didn’t normally come when I would play concerts back when I lived here. Again, a good thing about visiting. In some ways, it’s difficult visiting here because there are so many friends and people I’d like to talk to and catch up with – I’d also like to see other people play, but I’ll be pretty busy while I’m here – I’m hoping to catch up with everyone in good time. Good thing I’m not here for just a weekend.
The other thing that I did here in my first 5 days back was play at Myopic with Steve Hess and Toby Summerfield – they on drums & guitar respectively, me with saxophone & computer. It was good to play – I haven’t done live electronics in more than a month now – I felt kind of rusty. Got it get it together for a couple of Grey Ghost shows this week and a solo set the next weekend. Playing with Steve & Toby was a good match though – they share a good sense of pace & timing.