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The day after Christmas, we had a wonderful time at the famed Iridium Club in NYC, where the great Les Paul used to always “hold court” on Monday nights for decades! Lexie and I played with the Les Paul Trio, whom we also just did the tribute album with, and I got to play about 8 songs. It’s always a real interesting blend when me and the wonderful Lou Pallo (who now has his own Les Paul signature model!) take our respective styles and make them work together. I always find it quite a challenge to play with such “straight Jazz” players, melding my own blend of Country and Blues-tinged Jazz with them. It does always work out, and this time, despite my nervousness and apprehension, it also worked out especially well!

We had a very responsive totally “sold out” crowd, and I got to see many great old friends and acquaintances as well! The thing that blew me away so much was also how I could really at times “rock out” and really raise my volume level, in spite of playing with a Jazz trio, without any drums. Lou Pallo has such a strong right hand and comping style, that he really provides such a strong rhythm. It just meant that sometimes, I had to actually, and literally stop my playing, so I could hear the “chuck-chucks” he was comping, so I could once again be on the beat! That caused a few harrowing moments for sure, but in the end was no big deal!

Also and equally amazing was how I could just literally “call out” tunes, some of which they didn’t even really know that well, and we were all still able to “fall in” together, and make it a valid and refreshing performance! At times, I had to actually call out the changes to them, but once we got our “musician’s language” together, all the communication seemed to flow smoothly. It also helps when you’re there with a crowd that expects “spontaneity”, and literally doesn’t know what will happen next. This was the wonderful tradition that les Paul created there, with his seemingly endless Monday night jams and performances. You really can’t help but feel his wonderful presence there, looking down on all of us, his “children”, as we continue his great tradition in a place that is truly “guitar mecca!” I get to play there again at the end of Feb. with my own band, and I can’t wait to return! If you can ever make it to this incredible club, you’d really have a special experience to say the least!

Arlen Roth

Posted: 12/29/2011 3:12:10 PM with Comments | Add Comment | Email Link | Permalink
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