No surprise for a bunch of reasons... John's gig at Miller's is truly legendary. He's been there every Thursday night for at least 25 years and probably more. (Nobody, including John, is exactly sure when it started.) In any case, he was already on the bandstand when Dave Matthews spent time tending bar at Miller's. That fact has made the bar a Mecca for fans. And it means that the place was packed to the rafters last Thursday. Rashawn Ross, the DMB's trumpet player, and Jeff Coffin the sax player, knew that they'd get the rock star treatment when they showed up.
John D'earth gets things going, 13 December 2012. That's Pete Spaar, on bass, and Devonne Harris, drums. [All photos copyright John Edwin Mason, 2012. Click on any image to see a larger version.]
I didn't get any photos of Rashawn Ross. I could have squeezed through the crowd and worked my way into a good shooting position, but it would have meant making a lot of enemies. On the other hand, I met some wonderful people while I was just hanging out. (Here's hoping that my new friends from Vancouver, B.C., see this post.)
Things cleared out a bit after the first set, and I spotted some folks that I know sitting at a table up front. They invited me to join them for the second set. (Thanks, guys. And thanks to the happy couple from Nebraska, too.) By that time, however, Ross had disappeared.
Jeff Coffin, of the Dave Matthews Band, tearing things up on sax. Victor Haskins is on the left.
Both Ross and Jeff Coffin, playing tenor sax, brought an arena-rock vibe to the jam. It perfectly suited the occasion, when most people in the audience weren't jazz-savvy. They both brought down the house with their solos.
Victor Haskins, trumpet. Pete Spaar in the background.
Victor Haskins plays with a grace and maturity that's far beyond his years. He regularly gigs throughout Richmond, Virginia/Washington, DC area.
J.C. Kuhl, center, Coffin and D'earth on the sides.
J.C. Kuhl, John's regular sax player at Miller's, is a monster musician. He's got all the technique in the world, but, more impressively, he's always got something to say when he solos. Thursday, he was absolutely on fire.
Can't remember this guy's name. He's a regular at Miller's jams.
It's embarrassing to admit that I can't remember this trumpet player's name. (If you do, please let me know.) I've heard him several times at Miller's and other places. He's good.
D'earth, Coffin, and Haskins.
One of the wonderful things about jazz is that all good musicians know the standards. That allows them to make seriously good music -- with strangers and without any sort of rehearsal -- anytime they get together. Thursday was an example. Stunning music-making from beginning to end.
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I made these photos with a Panasonic GX1 with a 20/1.7 lens. It's a great little combination, rapidly becoming my favorite, unless I need a long lens or fast frame-rate. And it fits in a coat pocket.