Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Perfect Storm

The Perfect Storm: A confluence of meteorologic events coming together to produce a weather event of unprecedented energy.
Bob Case, Meteorologist of the National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration National Weather Service's Boston office was the first to describe it about the October 1991 storm:

"The conditions were "perfect" for a monstrous storm, a meteorological time bomb that would explode in the northern Atlantic Ocean creating waves ten stories high and imperiling the New England fleet."
"It was an unprecedented set of circumstances," the now-retired weatherman said. "A strong disturbance associated with a cold front moved along the U.S.-Canadian border on October 27 and passed through New England pretty much without incident. At the same time, a huge high pressure system was forecast to build over southeast Canada. When a low pressure system along the front moved into the Maritimes southeast of Nova Scotia, it began to intensify due to the cold dry air introduced from the north," according to Case.
"These circumstances alone, could have created a strong storm," Case said. "But then, like throwing gasoline on a fire, a dying hurricane Grace delivered immeasurable tropical energy to create the perfect storm."
With all of the contributing factors coming together at just the right time, in less than 24 hours, the storm exploded to epic proportions and then headed toward the coast," the meteorologist said, adding that if any of the components were out of sync, the epic storm would not have happened."

A "Perfect Storm" occurred Saturday night (Valentine's Day) at the Greenwich club. King "Fruitbowl" Reeves, and Charlie "Bunns" Wilson led their working group Bowl and Bunns and Friends (Family) in a concert of epic proportions.
First, some background. Vibraphonist King Reeves and Pianist Charlie Wilson together have over 80 years experience in performing, composing, and touring here in Cincinnati and around the country. The duo won the 2004 Billboard Magazine jazz song of the year for the entire world for their composition and performance of the original "September 21". Reeves is truly an under-appreciated dynamo on the Vibes; his musicality is astounding. He is one of the very few Vibraphonists that has his own voice.
Charlie Wilson has no peer in the world on Piano. The vast majority of the best pianists in Cincinnati have been influenced by Wilson. Although one can hear elements of Cecil Taylor in his playing, he also has his own unique voice.
It is routine for musicians to list who they have played and recorded with; in this case, it is who has played with Reeves, and Wilson that other musicians list on their resume. They are in that class.
The "Friends" (Family) are the fiery Eddie Bayard on Tenor, the incendiary Mark Lomax on Drums, and the coolly intense Brandon Meeks on Bass.
The Perfect Storm? Think of Meeks as a Low Pressure cold front coming down from the north; Bowl and Bunns as high pressure fronts from the Midwest and southwest; Lomax as a Level 5 hurricane coming from the South Atlantic gaining strength; and Bayard as an F5 Tornado (Fujita Scale) heading toward the coast. These 5 elements meet over a receptive North Atlantic (the crowd) providing unprecedented energy!

The first song was a touching duet; a tribute to a fallen friend: "Naim's Spirit" for Greg Singleton.
This was the first time for this particular song to be performed; the duo handled it with deft understanding and civility; a moving remembrance for a loved friend.
Next up was the standard "Softly as a Morning Sunrise". This song started slowly, and built to a burning intensity fueled by Lomax's drumming. Bayard took flight, and gave a preview of the energy yet to come. Wilson kept the intensity going, in his own unique way.
"Stroke of Luck", a Wilson original, at first caught the youthful trio slightly off-guard, but they very easily followed Wilson and Reeves' lead taking this song to its expected energy level. This is when the intensity of Lomax and Bayard are increasing; they were at times feeding off each other's power... More on that later.
Following that, another original "Monkey Face" ratcheted up the energy; there was now a very palpable intensity with the crowd and the performers. This came to the forefront with the next song, "African Queen". The energy levels were off the charts; the combustion was controlled but furiously exuberant. Reeves and Wilson's solos were point-counterpoint. Both daring, exploratory, but reassuringly structured. Lomax at this time was dropping bomb after bomb; pushing all three soloists. Bayard benefited from this the most; it seemed like an energy duel between the two, fed by the crowd! Meeks had a calming, cool intensity throughout.

Next... a duet: "Footprints". Seemingly a quieter moment, but Wilson made this song his own with his interpretation. Reeves was equally expressive; one could envision footprints on a sandy beach during this interpretation...

John Coltrane has influenced countless musicians. This group was no exception. "A Love Supreme" was and is a landmark recording; it was treated with great reverence by the group.
Jon Ridley host of The Sunday Evening Jazz Show on WAIF 88.3, opened with spoken word; the words from the original message from Coltrane.
Next, Acknowledgment. The intensity level increased markedly; careening toward the final energy explosion. All soloists were pushed and prodded by Lomax; he seems to always find a way to provide just the right emphasis; the right accents; sheer lightning bolts of energy when required. Subtle burning just below the surface during quieter times. "Resolution" was just that for this event...a resolution of all the various energy forces into one sustained tsunami of sound and fury; fueled by the crowd. Reeves took the first solo; and increased the energy level markedly. Then Bayard took over.
For those who don't know Eddie Bayard, you'd be hard pressed to find a better, more energetic or expressive Saxophonist playing anywhere in the world today. (And I've heard a bunch of players, live and on record). Same with Mark Lomax; Lomax's energy level and dynamic range are on par with the best of Tony Williams, Elvin Jones, and Max Roach. During Bayard's solo, these two forces of nature dueled with and against each other; every expressive exploration was answered thoroughly by Lomax's explosive bombs. At a crucial point, there was Bayard and Lomax alone, burning through the territory, with occasional urgings from Reeves with well timed vibe notes.

And was over. Two + hours of sustained fury; if Obama could find a way to bottle the energy produced Saturday night; we would no longer need foreign oil!

This group has to be heard more...if we are lucky, May or June at The Redmoor. And more after that. To hear what I'm talking about, I will direct you to two albums: "Acknowledgment", and "Live At The Hyatt" by Bowl and Bunns and Friends.

The Perfect Storm. Live in Cincinnati Valentine's Day.

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