Jazz Friday Night at the Seasonal Grille

Yikes--almost forget to mention, I'll be playing tomorrow night (Friday, September 23) at the Seasonal Grille in downtown Hastings, Michigan. Come on out, drop a few dollars on dinner with your sweetheart, and take in a little live jazz. The Seasonal Grille is a fabulous place, and the food is not only outstanding in quality, but also just about absurdly affordable. Paul Lesinkski will be joining me on keyboards. We've done a good number of piano-sax duos through the years; he's a fantastic musician, a good friend, and someone I love playing with. You'll like what you hear. Here are the details: The Seasonal Grille 150 West State Street Hastings, MI Time: 6:00–9:00 p.m. Phone: (269) 948-9222 Hope you can make it!

Stormhorn Jazz at the Cobblestone Bistro (Or, The Difference a Bass Makes)

Saturday evening at the Cobblestone Bistro here in Caledonia was one of those very rewarding gigs that result from the combination of a stellar rhythm section, a beautiful setting, and an appreciative audience. I couldn't ask for better guys to play with than Paul Lesinski and Dave DeVos. Each is a seasoned, top West Michigan veteran on his instrument, and both are just plain nice, down-to-earth guys with no attitudes to deal with. They're responsible and easy to get along with, solid and intuitive musicians who've been around the block many times over, so I have confidence in them. That confidence in turn inspires my own creativity and willingness to take risks as a saxophonist. Last Friday on New Years Eve, Steve Durst and I played for the dinner crowd as a piano-sax duo. With years of experience under his belt, Steve does a superb job, and we got some very nice compliments. But man, what a difference the addition of Dave on bass made this weekend! I'm certain Steve would readily agree that having to fill in the bass part with the left hand greatly limits what a keyboard player can do. Good players can pull it off, but I don't know of any pianist who wouldn't much prefer having a bassist handle the bass part so his own left hand is free to do what it's meant to do in a jazz context. The difference is huge--the groove, far better; the sound, fuller and richer; the creative options, much broader; and the energy, multiplied. All without any significant increase in volume that can distract from conversation in a restaurant setting. The crowd certainly liked our sound. People were actually listening to us and applauding from tune to tune, and even for some of the solos. I stopped to chat with a few of the diners during break, thanking them for their responsiveness, and I got some glowing comments in return. It's really gratifying to see the interest in jazz that exists in this rural neck of the woods, many miles from the urban center of Grand Rapids. We play again at the Cobblestone this coming Saturday from 6:30-9:30 p.m., this time with Steve filling the piano chair. If you like live jazz, come on out and enjoy an evening of good food and world-class wines plus the Stormhorn Jazz trio, all in an ambience-rich setting that will warm you as soon as you set foot through the door. Here's the info:
• Date & Time: Saturday, January 15, 6:30-9:30 p.m. • Place: The Cobblestone Bistro & Banquet Center • Address: 9818 Cherry Valley Ave. SE (M-37), Caledonia, MI • Phone: (616) 588-3223 Reservations are recommended, but walk-ins are welcome.
I should mention the large and beautifully designed banquet hall in the back of the building, styled in the manner of a large, European sidewalk cafe. Ben, the owner, is contemplating special events, so keep your eyes open for jazz concerts in the future. I'll keep you posted on this site and on my Stormhorn page on Facebook as brainstorms and good ideas become actual dates on the calendar. Need I say, please come out and support the Cobblestone. It's a great setting and has the potential to distinguish itself not only for destination dining, but also as a hotspot for jazz that's located outside the urban clutter, yet close enough to be convenient.