Gig Journal

Michael Timothy's, Nashua, NH. November 30, 2003

Even though it was a holiday weekend, there was a good crowd. There's a loyal group of regulars here.

Usually I set up to the right of the door, but this week there were tables there, so I set up on the other side. It was actually a better spot. The bar was off to my left a little, and the main part of the room off to the right. (In the photo you can see the door to the main dining room.)

My sound check on gigs like this, when there are already customers seated, is short and quiet: a couple of scales, arpeggios, and chords designed to test the he response of the room to the full range of the instrument. Immediately I noticed that the reverb mix was still set a bit high from my previous gigs. Since this had been a demanding weekend for gigs, and I was a little concerned about my chops, I decided to leave it set high so that I wouldn't have to work so hard. By the end of the night I realized that my chops were fine, I could sustain chords with no problem, but I think the extra reverb added a nice quality to the sound.

As usual, I started the first set with "Here's That Rainy Day." I had made up my mind to play longer single-line solos on this gig, so I started right in with a long solo on this tune. As the tune ended, I segued into "Girl From Ipanema," on which I took the improvised choruses as chord-melody. I always end that with a vamp on on Fmaj7 Gb7, and somehow I segued into the three-four vamp on Cmaj7 G7 that I use as the intro to "Skating in Central Park." I improvised two choruses on that, and when I ended, I got so much applause that I was actually startled. As the night went on, I was pleasantly surprised by applause at the end of almost every tune. Two nights earlier I had played at a club where I rarely receive applause, so the contrast in the audience repsonse was striking.

I used the set list I had made up for the Friday night gig. Because I was taking long solos, I had more tunes listed than I needed, and this held true for the rest of the night. In the first set, by the time I got to "I Got It Bad," I'd been playing for 50 minutes. I got a lot of applause for that tune, so I figured that was a good point to end the set. I had planned on playing "Don't Get Around Much" later in the night, but I never got around to it.

In the second set, when I got to "Scotch and Soda," my left hand suddenly got very tired and my concentration flagged. This was the fourth gig I'd played this weekend, and I'd done about eight hours of driving, so I was pretty tired. I got worried that I was just going to run down. But by the second chorus I was OK. The response of the crowd gave me a real lift, and the rest of the night went pretty well. "Night's Shadow"--an original C-minor blues--came out especially well.

In third set I played "Just Friends," which is a tune I don't do too often. I have a very simple head arrangement, and I did an extended single-line improvisation. It was received very well, so I know I need to make it a regular part of my performances. In this set I played "Bookin' Blues," which is an new composition of mine, an E-minor blues. It's a little similar to my "Night's Shadow," but different enough. At some point I'll write up lead sheets for them and write an article about them. Just as I finished "Bookin' Blues," a couple was going out the door, and commented that they liked the music, so I guess that tune stays in the repertoire.

After the third set, Karen, the bartender, set Mal and I up with a salad and pizza. Now, this is not just any salad and pizza -- this is Michael Timothy's Mediterranean Salad and gourmet veggie pizza. As always, it was delicious. And as always, Karen was the epitome of a friendly and professional bartender. She knows all the regulars who sit at the bar and manages to carry on about six conversations at once, while pouring drinds for the bar, for the tables in the wine bar, and for the tables in the restaurant. And she does it all with a smile. We could use some bartenders like that in Massachusetts!

The last set I stretched out on "Misty", "Meditation," and "Stella" (which I had dropped from an earlier set), and mixed in a few ballads. As I've mentioned in previous gig journals, the audience at Michael Timothy's is used to the best in improvised jazz, so it's always challenging and rewarding to play improvised choruses there.

This was by far my most well-received gig at Michael Timothy's, and my most enjoyable. The four gigs of this weekend had served to warm me up and inspire me without, as I had feared, wearing me out, and the audience was very appreciative. I'm looking forward to my next gig there, now more than ever.