body and soul
Dennis Irwin died at 3:30 yesterday afternoon. Four hours later, in the Allen Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Joe Lovano's band led off what was to have been a benefit concert. Like Dennis, Lovano's bassist Cameron Brown is white-haired and medium height -- a detail you notice with bassists. I wanted to believe he was Dennis. Wynton Marsalis spoke of Dennis's "most magnificent attitude." The rest of the night spoke to his most magnificent music. Among the moments, Bill Frisell's phrases and spaces evoking "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," and Harry Allen and Joe Cohn's simple sax / guitar duo of "Body and Soul." David Berger told the story of Dennis coming to BAM to sub in the Harlem Nutcracker, a complicated, fast-paced score which Dennis virtually sightread. At the end of the first act, the band spontaneously gave the bassist a standing ovation. Dennis stayed in David's band for the next 11 years. Adorable in a tiny dress and high high heels, Aria Hendricks -- Dennis's love -- sang with her father Jon on "Doodlin'". Jon sang air bass on his solo.
Hope is the thing with feathers. That's what Emily Dickinson wrote. Then again, Emily never left her bedroom, which sounds pretty hopeless. She never saw a moor, nor the sea. And she would not have gone to an Esperanza Spalding show, like I did this morning.
I always ask musicians I know for the scoop on who's coming up. Joe Lovano told me about Esperanza. I checked out her MySpace page, but I had not seen her live.
Her quartet featured Otis Brown Jr. on drums, Leonardo Genovese on piano and Fender Rhodes, and Jamie Haddad on percussion. Esperanza plays bass, and she sings.
Here are two songs about lost love, from two very different times and attitudes.
Esperanza Spalding has a new recording coming out in May on Heads Up Records. - Josh