Spur of the Moment Decisions on Unknown Sundays 4-2016

Two spur of the moment decisions: One, a club in Paris, France, the second, Rochester Jazz Festival just looking to get a drink and food at the closest bar before an evening of planned musical entertainment throughout the city. Today’s “unknown” is all about being able to be comfortable with not “knowing” what you’re going to be doing or, in this case, hearing (as well). Sometimes you just go on a picture and gut instinct–and sometimes you’re gut is hungry and you accidentally wind up staying for something more special than you realized at first.  Unknown to us at the time, these became two great experiences to share on Unknown Sundays.
Paris, France, where walking around aimlessly is like a never ending romantic dream. Inspiration comes from sights, sounds, and a feeling (that you have to experience yourself). At the time I’m writing this article, I can’t even tell you where we were in the city compared to our hotel near L’Opera, but I can tell you there was an interesting club–and we could hear jazz. Jazz and a drink in Paris–that’s an easy one. So we do. I can’t recall the musician, sorry. Very good, though, but there was a poster on the wall catching my attention for the next night. I didn’t know the artist, but I had a feeling. Maybe it was the statement from John Scofield, but it was just more like–I got a feeling about this guy. Kurt Rosenwinkel. If you don’t know him/of him, that’s fine. If you do, then you know, what my wife and I were about to find out…
I approached the door attendant and expressed in my worst French, if tomorrow night was something extremely special I should not miss while in Paris? He nodded yes–Sold Out or Packed House, but he would make an exception. We came back early the next night and witnessed–in the most compressed, fire saftey breaking packed house, a set of jazz guitar ensemble that just capped off a fantastic week long experience in one of the most beautiful and inspiring cities in the world. Kurt Rosenwinkel is one of the most influential jazz guitarist of his time, and that puts him in extremely good company (Metheny, Bill Frisell), and we were extraordinarily lucky to catch him at such an intimate venue…let alone in Paris.
Now, let’s get back to the United States, and get a little more local. If you have not been to the Rochester Jazz Festival–and love all kinds of music and musical venues, it truly is one of the best in New York State. ( Rochester Jazz Festival) We were there to see some acts, but really to check out Blackie and the Rodeo Kings (Canadian legend built band from alt-rock to folk icon, but that’s a story for another article). We needed some early dinner/drinks at a comfortable downtown bar (which was going to be a tall order), if we could get in somewhere. It was looking incredibly grim with the amount of people waiting in lines for shows at all kinds of venues and nothing but vendor food tents (which are awesome–but they don’t come with atmosphere). My wife has to go to the bathroom, and she is allowed to go into Max of Eastman Place, where people are waiting in line for a jazz performer called Gerald Clayton (I’m not familiar with much of his work at the moment of our trespassing).
I can’t recall if it was my wife or me that wandered into the bar area and asked if we could have drink and food (considering it was empty), but the bartender was super pleased that we would do such a thing, and we sat down and started a great conversation over glasses of wine and good food. Then as I was starting to think it was getting close to the Gerald Clayton showtime, I motioned to the bartender that maybe we should settle up and free up the seats. “No one purchases these for seats, and you’ve more than paid to be here. Stay, you’re going to love it beyond what you heard at the sound check.” We graciously agreed, and we continued our stay–even after the performance. That’s right, we stayed at the bar finishing up our drinks–when Gerald Clayton came up to the bar, and we wound up buying him a drink! Got to talkin’ of course, and then we had to go to the Blackie & the Rodeo Kings show, but Gerald and the bartending crew let us know that we could come back later for the end of the 2nd show–secret entrance. So we did, of course!
Okay, so here’s where I tie it all together. Gerald Clayton is a very talented classical jazz pianist. The composition and structure is accessible and mesmerizing alone or in accompaniment. Like Rosenwinkel, the professional presentation and detailed improvisation is remarkable, and the situation and how we came to witness these two talents in the jazz arena is why we travel the music multiverse…that and the coincidence that Gerald Clayton–the night we accidentally saw him twice in 2012–was touring for his excellent album “Bond: The Paris Sessions.”

See them both when and if you can. Pick up their record(s)–put them on–and let the jazz take you away. Paris, maybe? It’s all about the journey…n’est ce pas?



Kurt Rosenwinkel Albums in my collection:  East Coast Love Affair, The Next Step, Inuit, Heartcore, Deepsong, Searching the Continuum
Gerald Clayton Albums in my collection:  Bond: The Paris Sessions, Bells On Sand

This “Unknown Sundays” was done back on January 14th of 2016, and at the time Mr. Rosenwinkel was already well on his way to becoming a sincerely respected jazz guitarist, and his albums had moved into all kinds of forms, including lyrical.  Mr. Clayton was rising quickly, and that year we saw him in Rochester (2011), The Bond Sessions won Best International Jazz Album!  Both continue to make great contributions to music in their instruments in their albums and collaborations, as well as inspire newer artists committed to the music landscape of jazz.

Jazz seems to be a small percentage of interest in the overall music multiverse on YouTube and other arenas, and it’s quite shameful to be honest.  It’s a lot of the basis for rock, blues and especially those into progressive rock, which gets huge followings and support on social media outlets.  I’m hopeful that the music multiverse in which Beyond Your Radio travels in that we do not fall victim to lack of following/excitement because we’re posting jazz.  It’s beyond important — and way way beyond cool!   – Mark Kulgowski  [April 9th 2023]

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