Last night the wife sez let’s go to Vibrato. It’s way the hell up in Bel Air, where you spend money not even spending money, and there are rich people all around you, balding and important and trophy-wived. Chuck Manning was there with bass and drums, a sax trio, pure jazz, one of those set ups where it’s noisy no matter what you do. It brought out all the Joe Henderson in him, and he wailed nicely, crazy torrents of notes that sailed over the heads of the rich people and bounced off their wine glasses till even they noticed and applauded. The jazzers in the crowd dug it. Loose limbed straight ahead is a hard find in this town anymore. We sat at the bar and talked to the bartender who plays weirdo punk rock on his own time, unbeknownst to the rich people, and pretty waitresses walked by with platters of food that cost more than one of my car payments. It was sticky with humidity even inside, where the vast space between the diners and the ceiling renders air conditioning moot on these Jersey-like summer nights. We sat still and drank and listened. A “Listen Hear” got the crowd moving, swaying balding heads, trophy wives jiggling and jingling. I wish I could remember the title of the next tune but the house bassist Pat Senatore and drummer Kendall Kay locked into a groove that got people really excited. They cooked right through to the end, with a hard bop finish. You think saxophone trios and it always comes down to Sonny Rollins at the Village Vanguard, blowing Caravan for half an hour. This had those moments. It being a restaurant, you can only go so far, Sonny circa 1957 would scare the nice people now. Those were crazy times–crazy places, crazy people, crazy music. Now we take what we can get. And if Chuck Manning can get away with some intense blowing at Vibrato–even though to him it was a cake walk, nothing special–then we’ll take it. Jazz is a special thing, harder and harder to find. And when I find some like this–off the cuff, unplanned, going with the flow–I dig it. Totally.
We’ll be on the Westside again today, though this time it’s a pig roast full of heavy metal guys and intellectuals. Ya never know in this town.