Saturday, March 7, 2009

Returning To The Scene

As some of you know, I played the piano at a jazz club in Denver called El Chapultepec (aka "the Pec") for a number of years, ending back in July. I hadn't been back since - not because there were any hard feelings, but simply because there hadn't been any particular reason to visit. A few days ago, the saxophonist I had worked with most of those years - Keith Oxman - suggested we meet there and visit. OK, and also to see about maybe playing there again. When they ended our run last summer, they decided not to have anyone there on a steady basis any more on weekend nights but instead to bring in different bands each night, as most clubs do. No particular reason we couldn't be one of them!

So we dropped by last night. It was great to see the owner Angela, the bartender James, and the rest of the crew again. The band du jour was led by trumpeter Hugh Ragin, who was the first musician I worked with regularly in Colorado, going back almost 20 years. This from last night:

BTW, that was shot at 1/6". I was able to rest my elbows on a countertop, so you can't credit me or Pentax shake reduction too much for the lack of camera shake. But for the lack of subject motion blur, you've got to credit Hugh, who has one of the most relaxed trumpet techniques you're ever likely to see.

They've made some cosmetic changes at the Pec over the last few months. Nothing really major - some faux brickwork behind the stage, new carpet in the dining area, etc. But one of the most immediately noteworthy changes was the lighting. At least the way they had it set last night, it was still as bad as ever toward the front of the stage where Hugh was. But the light on the piano was a *lot* brighter and cooler than in the past. Actually, I think it mostly came from a neon beer sign, but light is light. In this shot of pianist Ron Jolly, it's hard to recognize it as the same place, as anyone who has tried to shoot there will attest:

Keith and I sat in and played a tune or two. No pictures of me, of course, but here's Keith, pretty much back to 100% after his bout with cancer:

On those last two, I'll take some credit for good timing in getting reasonably sharp pictures at shutter speeds of 1/20" and 1/15" respectively :-)

Oh yeah - we did talk to Angela, and she's more than happy to have us back from time to time. I think playing there on an occasional basis will be great - it will be more likely that we'll be able to get people to show up to hear us as opposed to just depending on the people who happen to drop in as we always had (it's the busiest neighborhood in the city). So hopefully I'll be seeing some of you there at some point!