On Saturday evening July 14, 2018, I recorded my 21st CD in front of a large and appreciative audience at the now legendary SoCal venue, Alvas Showroom in San Pedro, CA. Even though I have had some milestone gigs in 2018, such as completing a one year residency at Hotel Normandie in downtown LA, a LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) concert in the Fall, as well as my first NYC performance in 35 years, headlining a concert in October at Fordham University; this performance hands down was the highlight of my year in 2018. It is the first recording session in many years that I am extremely happy with; everything went as planned! The band was in great spirits and it was a fun and joyful night. All that went into the music. I was able to get my new original compositions performed as I envisioned while also getting it captured on tape! This happened because eight people agreed to come together in “consensus” to execute and carry out my vision. I am extremely humbled by the selflessness displayed by Jane Getz, Bill Markus, Thomas White, and Rita Edmond in so heartfully performing my music as well as Bob Tucker for engineering the recording and Craig Johnson for his excellent photography of the event. A special thanks goes out to our executive producer at Clarion Jazz, Mr. Paul Cohen who made this recording possible.
Trying to sustain consistency as a jazz composer and bandleader in 2018 from the U.S. west coast is a daunting task to be sure. To be honest, many times I’ve wondered if whatever project I was working on would be my last one. But against all odds, I have managed to keep the DFQ together and performing for over 24 consecutive years! Back when we started in 1995, it was much easier. There was so much more work for us. We had the opportunity to travel and perform throughout the country and overseas. We had the advantage of a large, knowledgeable and consistent jazz fan base that was still on the planet and they supported our brand of jazz music. I will never forget a moment during the late 1990s when called as a last-minute replacement at a major jazz festival, I wondered if anyone would show up for our performance as there were other major jazz performers at the same festival performing on the other stages. I was amazed that over 300 people showed up for our concert! I looked out across this sea of gray and blue hair and thought to myself, “this is my audience! What will I do when they are gone?” Gone are the days when we could rent 2 vans and travel up and down the west coast and throughout the U.S., supported by jazz venues and jazz societies. It's a new paradigm in jazz now.
So with the changing demographics of jazz in the new millennium, we artists have had to learn to be resourceful beyond the music as we are forced to foster our own performing situations. This is what we recently had with our monthly residency at Hotel Normandie that lasted from May of 2017 to April of 2018. I sought to create a unique jazz experience, utilizing the classic 1926 elegance of the historic LA landmark Hotel Normandie, just on the edge of downtown LA in the Koreatown district; combining all the elements such as original music, great food, full bar, and classic ambiance. On those nights we created a classic retro-vibe that many said was much like the Soho district in NYC but was actually downtown LA. It felt very much like that due to the hard-hitting original jazz we played there that comes from having the freedom to play without restriction. We gave audiences a unique and original music listening experience. The comment we heard over and over again was, "this is so much like New York!" What made it special to me was this is where the compositions that comprise the "Consensus" CD was born. On a monthly basis, I was able to compose new music and hear my work played by these incredible and amazing musicians!
Throughout the years, I’ve turned to the now venerable Alvas Showroom in San Pedro to record my CDs live and in performance. My "DFQ Plays the Music of Pepper Adams", "Sensuous Universe" as well as our last recording, our 20th Anniversary double CD, "Resilience", was recorded there. Many of us think this room may be “acoustically perfect.” The owner Matt Lincir built it as a labor of love where even the smallest detail is given attention. For instance, the piano situation that Jane Getz loves so well; how many places give you a choice of Steinway concert grands? Do you want the New York (American) model or the Hamburg (German)? The rest was up to us to ensure we would be well-rehearsed and confident in pulling off such a challenging task. Here we are, me, the great Jane Getz, Bill Markus, Thomas White, and Rita Edmond at Alvas Showroom on a hot summer Saturday evening, July 14, 2018; -in a live recording session where there is no safety net, before a large and appreciative audience, Both musicians and audience sharing our music and communing in that most intimate of the arts that is jazz music.