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Meadowlark Lemon Trio/Quartet
Some of you have seen my Tampa Bay area friends Dave and Misha post here.
I like to catch them when I can with their ongoing band "experiment" Hazard
Factor not only because they're nice, cool cats but also because it's been
a different show every time by the nature of their "band as laboratory"
Well, after their St. Paddy's Day gig, we got a special treat. I ran into
the two Johns that I met in tabla class a little while back. Taller John
told me that hooked up Kid John with "these jazz guys". "These jazz guys"
turned out to be an outfit called the Meadowlark Lemon Trio, with John as
the newest member (technically they were a quartet that night). Then I saw
Kid John and greeted him. "Remember I was talking about getting into
sampling and electronic stuff?" He showed off his new Yamaha SU700
sampler. Hmm... this is a trumpet-playing kid who's getting into
"electronic stuff", counts the likes of Dave Douglas and Tim Berne among
his jazz heroes, and on top of all that is taking tabla class to expand his
mind and musical soul even more. Should be an interesting gig, I thought
I patiently waited while the band and sound guy struggled to solve the
upright bass feedback problem, then sat back as the keyboard player
launched into an opening solo. Then... the kid began to play...
When my jaw wasn't lying on the floor, I was laughing in delight and
disbelief at what was going on before my very eyes and ears. Don't get me
wrong, it was really cool that John had two mics, one plugged into a wah
pedal, the other plugged into the SU700 (he later explained it comes with a
built-in effects processor that works for external audio) plus a little
Radio Shack mixer; not to mention the sampler itself, from which he'd drop
in samples and loops. But more than all the gear, what just blew me away
was that this 18-year-old kid had the musical chops and maturity of a much,
much older musician. It is truly inspiring, exciting, and terrifying all
at once to see this much talent and creativity in someone so young. The
gear was just the spicing that helped take their renditions of Freedom Jazz
Dance and Gingerbread Boy to some otherworldly place. Afterwards, Taller
John compared Kid John, as he is _today_ to Miles in his prime. I had to
agree, because he used silence in his phrasing as effectively as he used
his wah pedal and sampler. I can't even imagine where he'll be in his
musical development just 5 years from now.
This is why I like to go to see live music, just for the chance that an
experience like this will come along. :)