I had the pleasure of playing with tenor saxophonist Grant Stewart on Tuesday evening at the Northampton Jazz Workshop. It is interesting our paths hadn’t crossed before, given that Grant and I are both originally from Canada. He’s a really solid player with a firm grasp of the hard bop vocabulary of tenor titans like Dexter Gordon, Sonny Rollins, Hank Mobley etc.
Despite being situated in the lounge of a Spare Time Bowling Alley, they’ve somehow captured the feel of a real jazz club, as you will see in the photos below. Every seat was filled and the audience was attentive and supportive (even clapping at all the right times!)
On this evening, I was subbing for pianist Paul Arslanian, who leads the Green Street Trio (with bassist George Kaye and drummer Jon Fisher). They accompany a different guest artist each week, usually from New York City.
We played the following set of standards, after which there was an open jam session:
- I’ve Never Been In Love Before
- Sophisticated Lady
- Darn That Dream (in 3/4)
- Tea For Two
Most of the jam session participants were students from UMASS Amherst. These are the tunes which were “called”:
- Scrapple From the Apple
- Yardbird Suite
- Lush Life (w/ vocalist)
- The Party’s Over (w/ vocalist)
The seasoned, Connecticut-based jazz vocalist, Giacomo Gates was in the audience all night. At the end of the jam session he “sat in” and sang a blues in Eb, where he referenced numerous heads. Grant Stewart returned to the stage at this point, and then we wrapped up the evening by playing the ballad “Laura.”
These kind of gigs used to be my bread and butter, but they haven’t been my focus in recent years. It was a fun evening of recalling and reacquainting myself with the tunes I used to play regularly.