In September, I finally was able to see an artist who was on my short list of ‘music I need to see before I die.’ I have long wanted to see Bruce Springsteen, almost felt like it was an obligation, me being the musical obsessive I am, and he being the institution he is. And he did not disappoint. For 2 hrs. and 45 min., the Boss gave everything he had, leaving his heart and soul out on that stage for all to behold. In all my years of seeing live music, I have not seen many performers who have that absolute and complete control of their audience. We were all in the palm of his hand. Part concert, part sermon, all entertainment.
In October, we had a Jazz guitar legend double header with Medeski, Scofield, Martin and Wood at the Fillmore on Friday, And John McLaughlin at the Masonic on Saturday. MSMW was great. Scofield merged with MMW’s sound so seamlessly, that it seemed that was his full-time gig. They do have experience playing together, and it was evident listening to the incredible improvisational acid-jazz runs they weaved. They all absolutely dominate their individual instruments. I had never seen them before in any combination, and it certainly will not be the last time either.
As great as Scofield is, In John McLaughlin I feel that I am watching one of the top 3 living musician on his particular instrument. Yeah, I know that is a hefty statement, but I was truly awestruck watching what he was doing with that guitar. He is that greatest of all musical blends of technical wizardry and deep spiritual passion. It is as if he is channeling another level of being through his playing, and not just playing for the sake of playing. His band was tight as hell (of course), with this 23 year old Parisian bass player who was Jaco incarnate. How can a 23 year old have that kind of ability?!?!?
In December, it was another jazz legend at Yoshi’s – Chick Corea and his Electric Band. Yoshi’s is great for many reasons (sushi and jazz – does it get any better?), but one is the ability to get really close and intimate with the musicians. We were sitting 15 feet from Chick, watching him joke around the whole show, while at the same time visually experiencing his creative process unfolding. Possibly the main highlight for me was beholding his rhythm section of Victor Wooten and Dave Weckl. Wow. Wooten has that McLaughlin-esque blend of mind-blowing technical ability, and pure, driving passion. Weckl is also a monster, so cool and fluid, like molten ice pouring over that kit. My attention was jumping back and forth between the two in sheer delight. What was also cool was that as the late show, we were treated to a longer show than the early show. I have never experienced this at Yoshi’s before. Chick looked like he was having as much fun as we were, and clearly was not ready to quit.
The year ended once again at Yoshi’s with the Spanish Harlem Orchestra. It was a night of hot salsa, with scorching grooves. Blazing horns, driving percussion, and three passionate vocalist drove the band. (I know that is the third time I used passionate or a derivative of, but I was hearing a lot this year!) These guys made me want to get out of my seat and dance! The fact that I have next-to no rhythm was not what stopped me, but the packed house. Now, I have been to Yoshi’s many times, but I will swear I have never seen it this packed. This was really an introduction of sorts for me to salsa, and I found myself intermittently awash in bliss throughout the show. I will definitely see them again.
If you have any musical experiences to share, either from the past year or whenever, I am all ears!