Finding Joy in Music

Yesterday afternoon we went to two events. This is the report of the first: a concert at The Broad Stage in Santa Monica of Branford Marsalis and Terence Blanchard.

First, the venue… This was my first time at The Broad Stage. It was built in the last three years to be the performing arts center for Santa Monica College. It is moderate size, perhaps 450-600 seats in a pleasant, moderist building. Inside it is all warm blond woods and curved surfaces, with a main floor, a few mezzanine boxes, and a small balcony with a few boxes. We had a balcony box, and it had good sight and sound lines. About my only complaint with the building (other than the high-priced snacks) was that there was an occasional acoustic echo of the music.

Turning to the music: As noted above, this was a concert of Branford Marsalis and Terence Blanchard—both modern jazz musicians. I’m not a big fan of modern jazz. I find it at big rambling with no regular rhythm. But it is pretty in its own sense… and what made the afternoon even better was that my wife loved the music. It was worth the afternoon for the smile on her face.

The first half featured the Branford Marsalis quartet: Branford Marsalis on saxaphone, Joey Calderazzo on piano, Eric Revis on bass, and Justin Faulkner on drums. The music was modern jazz—I have no list of songs as I didn’t write them down. Marsalis was interesting to watch. Mostly, he let his band have fun. When they were jamming, he would walk to the back and just listen. As his portions came up in the music, he would walk up, play them with gusto, and then go back to the back and let the band shine again. The fun here was watching the musicians. Caldarazzo really got into the piano music, tapping away and hopping along. Revis was a bit more staid on the bass, but did have a nice solo in one of the songs. The fascinating one here was Faulkner on drums. I especially enjoyed how he used every portion of a wire whisk to make music. Blanchard joined Marsalis on stage for the last song of Marsalis’ set.

The second half featured Terence Blanchard and his quintet: Terence Blanchard on trumpet, Fabian Almazan on piano, Brice Winston on tenor saxaphone, Joshua Crumbly on bass, and Kendrick Scott on drums. Again, the music was modern jazz: pretty, but not as rhythmic as I’m used to. The real standout here was Winston on saxaphone—he gave Blanchard a run for his money. Visually, the quintet was less interesting. Both the pianist and bassist were a bit more subdued. The drummer started out more sedate, but there were numbers where he was throwing his entire body into the drumming, which was interesting to see.

Is this the type of concert I would go to again. Not alone. However, just for the joy it brought my wife, I would.

Upcoming Theatre, Concerts, and Dance: As soon as the show ended, we got on Santa Monica Blvd and headed east to our next show, Glory Days” at the Lillian Theatre at 8pm. That review in a bit. April 9 will bring the Renaissance Faire. April 16 sees us out in Thousand Oaks revisiting “The Producers” at Cabrillo Music Theatre, with Lust N Rust: The Trailer Park Musical” at the Lyric Theatre on April 17. April 23rd, which is during Pesach, brings the last show of the current Colony season, “The All Night Strut” at the Colony Theatre. April 24 was to bring God of Carnage at the Ahmanson Theatre, but the Hottix sold out in ½ hour… so we may try to get rush tickets (for they are not selling rear balcony in advance). The last weekend of April brings another concert: (this is a concert heavy year, it seems): Brian Stokes Mitchell at the new Valley Performing Arts Center. May starts with our penultimate Pasadena Playhouse production, “George Gershwin Alone“, on May 7. The weekend of May 12-14 will bring the “Collabor8 Dance Festival” at Van Nuys High School, which is always excellent. The third weekend in May is currently open, but I expect that to change. The last weekend of May brings Cabaret” at REP East on May 28 (note: “Dear World“, which was to have been at the Lyric Theatre, appears to have been cancelled). June begins with “Year Zero” at the Colony Theatre on June 5, with the rest of June being lost to Confirmation Services at Temple (now a maybe), and a college visit trip (but who knows — we might go see “Always Patsy Cline” at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville). Lastly, July should hopefully start with “Les Miserables” at the Ahmanson on July 2 (pending hottix), and continue with Jerry Springer: The Opera (July 8, Chance Theatre, pending ticketing); “Twist: A New Musical” (July 16, Pasadena Playhouse, ticketed); “Jewtopia” (July 17, REP East, ticketed); Dolly Parton (July 22 or 23, Hollywood Bowl, pending ticketing); “Shrek” (July 23 or 24, Pantages Theatre, pending ticketing); and “The Sound of Music” (July 30, Cabrillo Music Theatre, ticketed).