Played Twice

In May 2019, I was served two incredible and delicious servings of “Jazz” on the same day. Please allow me to explain… :v) During a dentist’s visit trip to the Bay Area, I had planned, in advance, to see the theatrical play Jazz, an adaptation of the 1992 book written by Pulitzer and Nobel Prize-winning American author Toni Morrison, followed by a Jazz concert featuring the Eddie Palmieri Sextet. The matinee play was at the Marin Theatre in Mill Valley, located 10 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge, and the evening concert was at Yoshi’s in Oakland, across the Bay. Jazz, the thought-provoking play that takes place in Harlem during the 1920s, tells the story of the complexities faced by those millions of African Americans who moved from the rural South to the North during the great migration in search of jobs and a better life in the cities, from the perspective of its ordinary inhabitants. One of my Jazz buddies who planned to also see the Jazz concert met me for the play. While I waited in the lobby, I recognized Black Theatre friends from San Jose whom I hadn’t seen in a very long time. It’s a small world!!! They were from Tabia African-American Theatre Ensemble, the San Jose-based theatre company that has produced and performed plays for 37 years. During my Bay Area residency, I’d seen many of Tabia’s outstanding plays and productions. The two friends were its co-founder/artistic director/actor and another company actor. It turns out that they were very good friends with Jazz’s lead actress and showed up to provide her moral support. After the outstanding play, through my Tabia friends, I had a chance to meet the play’s lead actress. Once we informed her of our plans to attend the Eddie Palmieri concert later that evening, she expressed that she was a huge fan of Latin Jazz and sounded excited, so I invited her to join us on the other side of the Bay, my treat! My Jazz buddy and I both headed to Oakland to meet up with two other Jazz buddies for dinner at Yoshi’s restaurant before the concert, well-known for its great sushi bar and Japanese platters. Upon my arrival, I asked the club manager for a nice seating booth for five. The four of us deliciously dined, basked in the ambience, and caught up as old Jazz friends do. Following dinner, we were escorted to our booth for five, great center seating, however, our new thespian friend had not yet arrived. A few minutes later, the air thick with excitement and anticipation, NEA Jazz Master Eddie Palmieri’s band, featuring Louis Fouché (alto saxophone), John Walsh (trumpet), Luques Curtis (bass), “Little” Johnny Rivero (congos), and Camilo Molina (timbales), hit the stage. Our friend eventually showed up and joined us. The high-octane horns, along with the syncopated and pulsating rhythms of the percussionists, provided the crowd danceable and foot-tapping music throughout the set. Nothing but large smiles and nodding heads appeared at our booth. A grand time was had by all!!! Afterward, I had a chance to introduce my Jazz buddies to the great young bassist Luques Curtis, whom I first met back in October 2006, during my NYC Jazz pilgrimage. He and his brother, pianist Zaccai, were playing with the great drummer Ralph Peterson at Cecil’s Jazz Club in West Orange, New Jersey. Zaccai was kind enough to take a beautiful group photo with us. On the way out of town the next day (following my dentist appointment), I had a chance to dine out with yet another Bay Area Jazz buddy, this one an original member of my Jazz trio… A wonderful day’s journey, indeed, during which I got to enjoy Jazz – twice! :v)

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