Private Party, Bartlett, NH. November 29, 2003
My old friends, Mike Scott and his wife Sandy, had invited us up to their condo in the White Mountains for their second nearly-annual tree trimming party. Mike teaches at Berklee and I've been friends with him ever since my earliest days of teaching there. We've played hundreds of gigs togehter, and it's always a treat. Mike had arranged a trio gig for the next day, so we decided to make the party a rehearsal for the gig.
The trio consisted of Mike on soprano sax, vocalist Mary Mitchell, and myself. We set up in a corner of the diningroom, and played tunes during the party. Mary had brought along her book and we decided on tunes and arrangements on the spot. I decided that I would not take any solos, either at the rehearsal or on the gig. There's such a full sound with guitar and sax behind the singer, and even with guitar behind the sax solo, that a single-line guitar solo sounds empty, even if I manage to throw in a lot of chords. But I was happy just providing support.
Mary has a great voice and a unique approach to phrasing. I've jammed and worked with her and Mike before, and I've found that things work out best if I keep a steady bass line going, and don't use too many tricky syncopations with the chords.
Mary has a great talent for making up lyrics to standard tunes; many are hilarious take-offs on the original. When singing the "real" lyrics she sometimes forgets a line, but the one she makes up on the spot is usually better than the original.
Many of the tunes Mary does are tunes I did with Skye in the Travelin' Light duo. So I have some accompaniment ideas that I can pull out, appearing to be creative, when in fact I'm recycling.
Mike and Mary have worked together in the past, with Mike on piano. One of their arrangements is a Latin version of "My Funny Valentine." They do it in Gminor, which, of course, is a great key for guitar, since I can keep the G pedal going, without it being overpowering, as an open A string pedal might be. The tune came out great, with Mary singing soulfully and Mike playing a great solo.
Steve Wark, another Berklee teacher, was a guest at the party. Steve's a drummer and singer. Mike convinced Steve to sing a few tunes with us, and that, too, was a treat. My favorite tune with him was "Witchcraft." Fortunately for me, Steve sings standards in the original keys, so it wasn't too hard for me to provide accompaniments. Steve did a nice versions of "Quiet Nights" and "How Insensitive," also.
The guests had nice music for their tree-trimming, the musicians had fun playing, and we got in a rehearsal. Good deal.