So we set off from Mike’s house on Monday at the surprisingly prompt time of 8am on our 15 hour drive to Madison Wi. The drive was surprisingly easy as this band is so tour ready and has such a good time clowning together in the van that it actually made the travel day enjoyable.
Our host for the show on friday was the fantastic tenor player Pat Breiner and friend of Mike’s and mine from NY. He has relocated to Madison for a bit and began creating a vibrant music series at a great recording studio called Audio for the Arts. Pat and his girlfriend Emily were fantastic hosts and we had a great time sampling the different local beer and food of Madison. The gig that evening went great. Audio for the arts is a beautiful recording studio owned by Steve Gotcher with a great sound. It was a very intimate performance and the audience was very hip. We had a great time chatting with all of them on the break. I also had the pleasure of having some family that live in Madison attend the show. It is always special to share this music with people that I care about but get to see infrequently. This had particularly importance as we performed my tune 1919 (Dedicated to Donald Jacobus) and my uncle Jim (Donald’s) son and his family were in attendance.
On Saturday morning we traveled to Chicago to Triton College. We had a clinic with the students at 3:00. It was a nice getting to work with the adult students and see their enthusiasm even as adult student coming back to the music. We shared the concert that evening with the student big band and the Triton faculty ensemble. James Davis is the director of the program there, and is a wonderful trumpet player. We had a very fun 1hr set had James join us for our last tune.
After the gig we headed down to the Green Mill (one of Chicago’s historic jazz clubs) to catch a set by an old friend of Mike’s – Ben Allison. Mike and Ben have been friends since the mid 80’s and Ben was the bass player on Mike’s “Above the Battle Ground” CD in 1998. The Mill is an old Al Capone hang and has been restored beautifully. The room is always full and always a great mix of people. Every time I go to the Mill I am reminded that it is my favorite room in the country to hear jazz.