Last night I got to live out one of my childhood dreams, performing at the most famous jazz venue in New York, The Blue Note. For what it’s worth, it was a surreal and spiritual experience, and with it came a real sense of arrival. It is such a tiny venue, and it is so incredibly crowded all the time that the people working there are all super stressed out, and claustrophobia is bound to ensue no matter who you are and how much time you spend at the Blue Note. My girlfriend accidentally bumped into a cocktail waitress when she stood up, and despite having not spilled a drop of alcohol, the waitress turned around and snapped at her, “not cool!” Chill out, everyone that works at jazz clubs…
For those of you not familiar, Sinkane is a psychedelic African indie rock band, featuring Ahmed Gallab, formerly of the band Yeasayer, and Mikey Freedom Hart, of Exreyes, King Expressers, Skaters, lots of other stuff; they slay it every time. The Zongo Junction horns played with them at Brooklyn Bowl for their CD release party, so we kept the tradition alive at the Blue Note with Adam Schatz on tenor, myself, Aaron Rockers on trumpet, and Freddy Deboe (Charles Bradley, Sharon Jones) on Bari, and also psychedelic flute for their epic 7/8-meter tune “Lovesick.”
Sinkane was booked for the Blue Note’s “Late Night Groove Series” but before all that got started, was 2 sets with vocalist Diane Schurr, featuring Sinkane standing outside, guarding all of our gear, waiting patiently in the cold, like everyone else that came to see Sinkane, on the sidewalk on West 3rd Street, for Dianne to finish and everyone in the club to leave so we could load our gear into the venue. This is what I hate about these tiny NYC jazz clubs, the changeover between sets. You’d think they’d have a better system, especially when it’s 10 degrees outside. Anyway, we waited for Dianne to finish her stunning rendition of “Girl From Ipanema,” then after a really short line check, Sinkane was at it, opening with one of their hits from their album “Jeeper Creeper.” The horns played that song and the next 4 songs. Adam stayed for one extra song, then we were all free to hang out and listen to the rest of the show with our friends. The sound was actually surprisingly good despite a proper sound check, and it was cool to hear Ahmed and Mikey’s beautiful singing voices a little bit clearer. Good friends Ari F-C, and his lady Talia, unable to get on the guest list, went through what all tourists, and jazz aficionados alike, have to go through, paying a pricey cover, and being forced to order a pricey drink, from a not-so-friendly server.
The Blue Note is a zoo, the Empire State Building of jazz venues, but it was a thrill to get to play there with a great band comprised of friends and colleagues. I’m grateful for the experience and I look forward to the next time I get to play there.