Breaking From Conventions
"You don't think of hearing jazz music in a roadhouse," offered David Luce, seated on my left at the 7 Mile's front row of tables. David, a retiree and Minneapolis resident, was enjoying his first visit to the venue, after being invited both by yours truly and by Quensella Miller, girlfriend of Doghouse Jam co-leader and saxophonist Andrew Speight. "But the roadhouse and jazz are both American institutions," David continued, "so it's nice to see them meld." On my right, Leo Page-Blau, another visitor on summer break from the University of Pennsylvania and a former schoolmate of my daughter Natalie, sounded a similar sentiment. "Jazz is a huge risk, and it's a very American freedom," he declared.
It seemed the right time for Andrew and his squad to "Strike Up the Band", with an optimism ardent enough to blow away the detritus from gargantuan major party political circuses. A mother and a pair of perky preschoolers danced near the open doorway, and Andrew's soloing kept up with their acrobatics. Moving on through "All of Me" to Bird's "Confirmation", Andrew helped relocate bop out of the dark hours of its origin and into the brightness of the Boulevard, with Ben Stolorow also working changes on the changes, lending them tangy voicings, tasty lyricism, and his trademark accessible amiability.
After the girls had gone home with Mommy, Andrew caressed "But Beautiful" as if it bore an extra 't'; it didn't feel like a first date. His solo extended into a sparkly session of pillow talk, with aromatic puffs from Frank Tusa's suave bass.
The distinguished shapings of Diz's "Con Alma" suggested it'll soon be time for a return to academe by Leo, Andrew, and yours truly, though we won't have Vince Lateano's measured mallets to march us down those halls. And perhaps we'd rather the give-and-take in the classroom be more like the trading of eights between Vince and Andrew on "Moose the Mooche": friendly, frisky, and fun.
Before the band's dinner break --- David was already consuming his veggie burger, and Leo had been playfully fingering his lumpia ---, we got a sweet appreciation of "Embraceable You". Andrew's reach was supple, Frank's a warm paternal hug, Vince's a chiropractic adjustment, and Ben's another location of the funny bone's erogenous zone. "I lift my sangria," David smiled, in honor or being in California".