Saturday, January 26, 2013

Burning down the house

"Oh the weather outside is frightful." — Sammy Cahn, lyricist for Let It Snow

THINK BACK, central Iowans to the weather that unleashed itself upon us December 19. It was a classic snow-and-gale-force-winds Iowa blizzard that continued to into the next day — which happened to be when the Turner Center Jazz Orchestra's holiday concert, featuring Scott Smith, was scheduled. Lots of tickets had been purchased; we were expecting a full house.

Paul was awake all night checking the weather reports and worrying about what to do. Try to play as scheduled? Cancel altogether? Reschedule? If so when? A holiday concert by nature of the beast has a very limited sell-by date especially considering it was by now December 20. Once a decision has been made one way or the other, how do you let concert-goers know? We also didn't have our faithful Des Moines Symphony Executive Director and TCJO board member, Richard Early, wisely on vacation, to advice us and help put a plan into action.

As the hours passed, it became clear the concert was not going to happen. Every school was closed, even the colleges, every event was cancelled; the city was virtually shut down. 

After much back-and-forthing, Paul and TCJO band leader Andy Classen decided to try to hold it the following night — try being the key word. Rescheduling 18 musicians and a vocalist in less than 24 hours to play on a Friday night and getting the word out to all those who had purchased or reserved tickets was no easy feat, but Paul and Andy pulled it off. The concert was held the following night, December 21, and although we didn't have the full house we would have enjoyed had the weather not dumped on us (literally), more hearty souls than one might have expected braved the cold and snow. The show must go on, right?

Sunday, January 20, Paul was a featured artist — along with Dave Camwell, Scott Davis, Jim Romain and Doug Bown —with the Community Jazz Center Band. I heard two tunes for the first time that I really liked, one by Iowa arranger and composer Doug Sharp called Ooooh Patu that Dave and Jim played, and Gentle Piece by Kenny Wheeler that Scott played.

The following night Des Moines Big Band had a extraordinary concert featuring world-famous (really) alto sax player Dick Oatts, Dick and Jim Oatts sister, vocalist Sue Oatts Tucker, and locally-grown, now-living-and-playing-in-Minneapolis, jazz pianist phenom Tanner Tucker. Together, they just about burned the house down. Those who were there knew they were hearing something remarkable, something they won't soon hear again. 

FYI: Paul is playing an Iowa/Kansas mini-tour with Tanner and Jim Oatts in February. I'll list the dates in an upcoming post. Maybe you can make one.

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