Gig Journal

Travelin' Light Jazz Duo, Jonathan's Restaurant, Ogunquit, ME. Various dates.

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John Melisi and Steve Carter at Jonathan's


John Melisi and Steve Carter at Jonathan's


John Melisi and Steve Carter at Jonathan's


Most of my gig journals are about one particular night, but since this one is about an ongoing gig, I'll be revising it over time, and including new sound clips, so check this page frequently for updates. -- Most recent update: Jul 30, 2011

I've been playing Friday and Saturday nights with John Melisi at Jonathan's Restaurant since June of 2008.

The Room

We set up in the bar, in front of the piano bar. The bar area is surronded on two sides by the restaurant. As you can see in the photos, there are openings behind us, with stained glass hangings, so our music carries into the dining room. As my left is a doorway that leads to the dining room. My amp is directly behind be, aimed at the curved area of the bar, so the sound bounces around and covers nicely. The ceiling is low, and the floor is carpeted, so the room soaks up a lot of sound. All the wood provides a nice warm tone, but it is a little hard to get the highs to ring out. I wedge my Peavey amp up against the piano bar and the wall so the vibrations are reinforced. As a result, the bass notes are nice and fat.

There Is No Greater Love

I picked this cut to include in the journal because, after listening to the recording of this night, John thought that we both played very well on it. John often mistakes the title of this tune, calling it "There Will Never Be Another You." So I was ready to play "Another You." After a few notes I caught on. On the recording, you can hear me say, "Oh, the other 'There' tune." The take has a nice groove, and the trading fours came out pretty well.

Autumn Leaves

On this Friday night, I'd just gotten my trusty old Ampeg back from the repair shop. It was responding well, and that really inspired my playing. I found myself using a lot more sustained notes, and being less busy in my soloing, just because the notes sounded so good. Here are some things to notice about this performance (numbers represent seconds into the take):

0 0:26 comping kicks behind head.

0:26 0:49 comping with walking bass behind head

0:49 1:18 walking bass with no chords behind solo

1:19 1:40 add some chords to walking bass

1:41 2:26 one chorus guitar solo, lines mixed with chords.

2:27 - 3:13 single line guitar solo

3:14 - 4:59 simultaneous improvising

5:00 - end comping with walking bass behind head

There were two couples at the bar who were really enjoying the music. They talked with us between tunes. They had heard John at some clubs in the Lebanon, NH, area back in the 70s. They had heard John at the Starlight Lounge there. One guy was a guitar player; we had a nice chat about guitars. He owned a Gibson 335, which is similar to my Aria, and a Gretsch hollow-body.

They really liked my solo on "I'll Remeber April." Here's the solo:

I'll Rember April (guitar solo)

They also liked my solo on "Once I Loved." Here's the solo:

Once I Loved (guitar solo)

And here's the whole tune:

Once I Loved

As the two couples were getting ready to leave, we were playing "Emily," a tune we've recently added to our repertoire. The applauded for the tune and told how much they had enjoyed our music.


On this night, it seemed that people responded best when we keep the solos short. John often plays two or three choruses of soloing on a tune, then I take a chorus or two, then he takes one more chorus before working his way back to the head. But in this set we were limiting to one chorus each.

All the Things You Are

The restaurant was hosting a private wine dinner, and the reception, which is usually held in the foyer, was held in the bar, where we play. They had moved out all the bar stools to provide standing room. When John and I started our first tune, the bar was nearly empty, but soon the guests swooped in, picking up glasses of wine from the bar. By the second tune, the room was packed with people talking excitedly. It was so loud we could hardly hear ourselves, or each other. After about an hour, the bar emptied as quickly as it had filled, because the guests were moving on to the dining room. The silence was a blessing. We went into "Autumn Leaves." Up until that point, we had been struggling, but now everthing just seemed to fall into place. We followed our usual arrangement, rubato first chorus, head, solos, simultaneous improv, out chorus. In the second chorus of the simultaneous improv, I improvised chord melody. With the room quiet, we could each hear the other clearly and the interaction turned out to be one of those magic moments that musicians live for. When we finished the tune, I said, "That was fun!" John commented, "That may be a keeper... There were some good moments in that....Your chord-melody solo was beautiful. Every note was perfect." I said, "I don't know, there were a couple of ambiguos voicings..." John said, "No, right on the money. You go back and listen to that, you're gonna say 'Holy Cow. Forget it. There's no way I'm pulling that off again'....Chord-solo. Whew! Like Bill Evans!" The next day I listened to the recording, and John was right: every note was perfect -- even the "wrong" notes. There's no way I'm going to pull that off again!

Autumn Leaves

We often open with Antonio Carlos Jobim's "O Grande Amor." John likes my comping on this tune, and I think the feel of the piece sets the tone for the kind of lyrical playing that we aim for on this gig. Here are some of the voicings I use:

Notice how John conjoins the last note of the melody into the first note of his solo. Nice touch!

O Grand Amor

About an hour into our first set (we play long sets!), a guy sat at the bar, watching me closely and listening with a big smile on his face. When we finished "Once I Loved" he applauded and said "Very beautiful" in Portuguese. I'm always thrilled when a Brazillian likes my playing of Brazillian tunes; I find that the highest form of compliment. We played "Desafinado" for him, and he loved it. Here are my voicings for the intro (note that it's a six bar intro!):


This was the first gig where I got to try out my new Traynor amp. I had ordered a cabinet, but it had not come in yet, so I was using the Eminence speaker in the Peavey Studio Pro 112 (bypassing that amp). A few tunes into the night John suggested we play "Body and Soul." "Let's see how that sounds," he said.

We start the tunes with a free improv on Bb7sus. I arpeggiate the chord, to try to get a harp-like sound. The high strings came through with a beautiful chime sound. Once the melody starts, I play chords in the middle register, and the amp delivered a clear, acoustic tone -- exactly what I wanted. On my solo, the high notes were crystal clear and the bass notes full and tight. I was very pleased with the way the amp sounded, as was John.

The tune was not without its mishaps, as is common on a restaurant gig. In the last chorus you'll hear me miss a couple of chords -- as someone walked by and almost bumped into me. In the out chorus the bartender turns on the ice crusher and it remains on until the end of the tune -- ironically fading out just as we do.

Body and Soul

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