Though folks are trying very hard, words seem completely inadequate to express the experience of the CottonWood house concert. Our hosts, Dianne and Neal, fabulous artists themselves, prepared a palette of house, home, garden, people, refreshments and music that was transformed into a magical and completely joyful event.
There were the 20somethings who loved it.
There were the folks who said, “I didn’t know that I liked jazz”, who loved it.
There were the folks from Mexico visiting as part of the Burlington-Alamance Sister Cities exchange (which was a beneficiary of the admission fee for this event) who loved it.
During the first set, everyone was in the house – all 70+ folks – sitting in the motley collection of folding chairs, offering their full attention. Neal said many of them started bopping from the first measures of the first song.
Louis, Ben, David and I were stunned at the audience response upon finishing the first song. I have since been repeating to Neal and Dianne, “hootin' and hollerin' just doesn’t happen at jazz gigs.” Generally, we perform as background music as folks go about their business. If one person comes up to us during the course of an event and says “love the music” and puts a buck or two in the tip jar, that’s a good gig! Hootin' and hollerin' just doesn’t happen! Yet it happened, and kept happening after each song.
For the second set, it was finally cool enough outside for the windows and doors to be open and folks were invited to enjoy the event either inside or outside. Neal said the 12 – 16 folks sitting at the lower deck were not chatting but sitting and listening to the music waft down to them. And the folks inside continued to listen and hoot and holler.
The musical goal was to offer tunes in a variety of jazz styles, and have them performed well with little to no ensemble rehearsal. What a fantastic treat to be playing with some of the finest musicians in the Triangle area: Louis, whose sweet sax sound floated through the room and out into the country evening, and Ben, who enthralled all of us with his beautiful bass solos, and David, who caresses his drums with a melodic touch. There were rough edges, due mostly to my leadership. But the overall playing was at a high level, and folks picked up on our joy playing this music with each other. And they generously offered their joy back to us in return.
The space itself is fantastically suited for acoustic music. The house is quite modest in size and scope, but with the living/dining/kitchen space emptied of its furnishings, we squeezed 71 chairs in. The Kawai baby grand is a dream instrument, and the cathedral ceiling and angled walls contributed to delightful reverberation. We had a small PA only for the vocals.
House concerts will be an increasingly important venue type for musical performances. It is a great way to hear great music in an intimate setting, support musicians in their livelihood, and raise some funds for charitable causes. This was the first concert hosted by Dianne and Neal at CottonWood Farm. They are enthusiastically planning to host others, and have invited us back for CottonWood Jazz 2 next June. We’ll surely be there.
We do have a recording of this event. Two condenser mics recorded a stereo audio track in Logic on the iBook, and a Zoom H2 recorder produced a backup mono track. Brought up the bass in the EQ, and came out with something decent. Next time we’ll focus mics on the bass and vocals. You can listen to the recording on the mahaloJazz music page.
Mahalo nui loa (thank you so very much) to everyone for sharing in this music.