never marry the bass player
Weather Report @ the Horden Pavilion, 1968.
Three minutes into Birdland and a couple of butterheads from Surrey Hills have wheeled three empty 44 gallon drums down the isle to help out Acuna with his percussions just as cousin Pete pulls out a Saturday night chillum wrapped in half of the Sydney Morning Herald Sports Section and the instant he ignites the fire stick the only female security in the place launches her small hard buttocked taut self across all of our laps in the hope of securing the number and us all of us red handed, as it were.
Blame me for forgetting myself, but for a moment drugs gave away to passion.
Powerful woman in a uniform.
John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra @ the Capitol Theatre, 1971
This great man, this double-necked gun player, this guru draped in white sheets and the owner of one of the greatest riffs in the history of guitarists wanders from his changing room and into the lobby for a coke and a bit of a looksee at the fans when he espies my companion Jake sat in his wheelchair all ashake like any other Cerebral Palsy sufferer would be after three hours of INTENSE jazz-fusion, and buggered if he doesn’t lay a hand on me old mates nodding nut like he’s the cure to all evil and the answer to rock and roll and to this day Jake hasn’t washed his hair, or what’s left of it.
Chick Corea and The Return to Forever, @ the Capitol Theatre, 1975.
On stage left is Chick on grand piano, on stage right is Mrs Chick on another keyboard.
Behind Chick is a line of brass, five up, no trombone. His spot holds air, the lad’s absent.
Behind Mrs Chick is strings a reed and the bass. Big bellied thing, all scars and dinged varnish. Looks African.
Drums are central to the layout.
All is silent,
– here’s tension.
Halfway through a blindingly fast batted back and forward first set that has had both sides of the stage playing jazz wars a skinny little guy wearing a big straw hat and carrying the missing slide-bone limps up from backstage just quietly and excuses himself all the way along the back of the working brass line.
None of them falter.
No matter that everyone on stage is smoking away and the roof is falling in and the floor is buckling and the audience is bounding in their seats this guy finally slots into that vacant notch between the alto and the bugle and once in that spot he wets the end of his flute then looks up and down the line and at the precise second he raises the trombone to his lips the whole blood surging rhythmic piece desists for just for that one instant which of course is his turn to rip and by God that was some sort of bloody timing my son so help me.
Larry Coryell @ the Sydney Town Hall. 1976
In order to properly hear somebody playing an Ovation guitar you are best to be seated midway between the speakers. This is not rocket science.
Larry Coryell’s Town Hall set up was not quite symmetrical and being in the 3rd row a bloke had to incline his head a little to port to get the balanced flavour of the output if you know what I mean.
This was Ok for me but a little threatening for the two handsomely and slimly sweet young inner city gentlemen sitting all cosy and shoulder to shoulder directly in front of my inclined head for the whole of the three hours the gig lasted. They were on a date.
How quickly a fragrant aftershave sours to funk when the stranger’s breath down the back of your neck is misinterpreted. They started twitching after fifteen minutes, chucking little girly stares over their shoulders at me, getting all agitated. Buggered the evening as a matter of fact, all that simpering.
Bongos in a Byron Swamp @ Suffolk Park. 2002.
(1) 1am on a quiet night and two drums started up a gentle cross-rhythmic appellation that continued undiminished and beautifully complete and totally uninterrupted until the dawn lightened this day at 4am.
(2) Then that instant of quiet, before every bird in creation awoke in song.