I’m mostly an orchestral guy, but I started out in jazz. So my choices are largely influenced in the classical direction, but when I hear the name of a legend like Ron Carter, I can’t say no. Also, I plan to go to at least a couple sessions where I have no idea what it’s going to be like. Thus, Day 2 looked like this:
9:15am: Anonymous amazing bassist at competition finals
10am: Ali Yazdanfar
11am: lunch break
12noon: Skype interview
1pm: bass showroom, and Australian bass maker Benedict Puglisi
2pm: Jeremy McCoy performance
3pm: Hakon Thelin performance (new music)
4pm: Brian Powell, new arrangement of Pulcinella for solo bass and piano
5pm: Jeffrey Turner and Micah Howard performance
6pm: dinner with the luthiers – Ken Smith and Louie Bellson’s godson
9pm Ron Carter concert
This was a great, and packed, first day of sessions. If anyone knows who the soloist was at 9am in Kilbourn Hall, or what was the piece he played with all the harmonics, please let me know! I was seriously unsatisfied at not being able to clap after his pieces! I’ve never heard solo playing like that before. And that was just the beginning. I got “stuck” in the front row – not complaining – in a small recital hall for a performance by Ali Yazdanfar from the Montreal Symphony. Afterwards I jotted down titles of Gareth Wood pieces to check out for future recitals.
I settled down for a late breakfast/early lunch break at Ludwig’s, and got to know another bassist who I met in the lunch line. Following this I went on Skype for a job interview, to teach bass back home in at Sistema Winnipeg… this may affect which seminars I attend this week.
Thinking maybe it was time to do something other than watch a concert, I ventured down to the exhibition room on the main floor. Being a broke student, mostly I just drooled over unaffordable instruments… but eventually I found a favourite. Talking with a fellow sitting nearby, I gradually realize that I’m meeting its maker, who has come all the way from Australia to be at this convention! Benedict was very kind, and humble and grateful for compliments on his work. Benedict Puglisi – check him out.
Jeremy McCoy’s performance was a must-see for me, as I just met him a few days ago in New York. This Met-vet gave an impeccable performance of traditional solo works. Looking to switch things up, I went to a New Music performance next, by Hakon Thelin. His real show-stealer was a plucking piece with both hands playing harmonics all over the instrument at breakneck speed. Feeling myself start to fade, but wanting to hear some Stravinsky, I grabbed a coffee and returned for Brian Powell’s presentation. His humble academic presentation masked an enormous accomplishment: the reworking of Stravinsky’s Pulcinella Suite into a solo work for bass and piano. Asking myself, could I take any more bass? and answering, yes I can! I went to a program from Jeffrey Turner and Micah Howard.
After this, I thought I couldn’t take another low-frequency sound, and I returned to Ludwig’s for dinner. Once again, not knowing anyone personally, I asked if I could join a group at a table with an extra seat. One man seemed a little thrown off by this unusual “small-town” gesture, and I couldn’t tell if he was upset or amused by it… nor did I know how to respond when he asked reprovingly if I’d ever heard of his company, Ken Smith Basses (I hadn’t). As he began to talk I realized I was sitting next to a legend. This man has character to match his rare and antique basses, and he told story after story about growing up as a musician in New York (playing with Horace Silver, and in the Glenn Miller Band… to think the things I would have missed if I had been less naïve!). I couldn’t leave the table, I was so entranced. Visit him! and get him to tell you stories! I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve forgotten the name of the luthier sitting on my left, but I haven’t forgotten that Louis Bellson was his godfather… (when I find your display at the convention, I will be sure to get your name, and remember it!).
In retrospect: this is an amazing place for me to be right now. I’m running across names of people whose books fill my bass shelf at home: Rufus Reid, John Clayton, Paul Ellison, Ron Carter, Victor Wooten… ohmygosh, Dave Holland just passed me in the hallway. This is insane.
Graham Isaak is one of our roving reporters covering the events of ISB 2013.