As previously stated, I’m not a huge fan of Jazz. Although, I know that when Jazz musicians play popular music, they excel at it (i.e., The Funk Brothers – Motown’s House Band). Still, I prefer a melody that I can sing along to. However, Blood, Sweat, & Tears (“BS&T”) was one of the pioneers of Jazz Rock; therefore, a number of its members, especially the horn section, played, and continue to play, Jazz. Lew Soloff, a trumpeter, was a member of Blood, Sweat & Tears, a band best remembered for the hit singles “Spinning Wheel” and “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy”, from 1968-1973. In 1969, BS&T had released their second album which featured the aforementioned songs. “Spinning Wheel “ (which features Mr. Soloff’s trumpet) reached as high as #2 on the Billboard charts during the summer of ’69 (a time when Bryan Adams was only nine years old) making BS&T one of the biggest bands in America at the time and having them play Woodstock was a major coup. Unfortunately due to their status at the time, they declined to be filmed and; therefore, were not part of Michael Wadleigh’s film. Other career missteps also led to the band’s commercial decline in the early 1970’s which is possibly why the band is not as well known as the band, Chicago.
An attendee of the Julliard School of Music, he cut his teeth with Maynard Ferguson, Joe Henderson, Tito Puente, and Gil Evans during the mid 1960’s before joining Blood, Sweat & Tears. After he left the band, he returned to the world of Jazz becoming a founder of the Manhattan Jazz Quintet and performing session and soundtrack work (You can hear his Flugelhorn on Elvis Costello & Burt Bacharach’s “God Give Me Strength” for example). As he is based in New York City, he has played a number of gigs in the area; however, the opportunity that I had on February 15, 2009 was a unique one. He was playing with his trio at the Middle Collegiate Church as part of their “Jazz on High” series, which mixes non-denominational prayer with Jazz. The second best part was that it was free.
The Lew Soloff Trio was featured this night. Accompanying, Mr. Soloff was David Kikoski on piano and Francois Moutin on acoustic bass. I sat in the second pew and was within five feet of the performers (unfortunately, I forgot my camera). They played three numbers and each was separated by a short sermon from Associate Minister, Adriene Thorne. I did not know the first number; however, Mr. Soloff announced that the second number was “Old Devil Moon” and the show concluded with a version of “My Funny Valentine”. Of course, all three songs were deconstructed and featured the talents of all three musicians. Mr. Moutin was very impressive and treated his stand-up bass as a lead instrument, in a manner similar to how the late-great John Entwistle played with The Who; if Mr. Entwistle played Jazz. Mr. Soloff delighted the audience with his impressive wind and dizzying high notes. My seat gave me a unique vantage point. I was right in front of Mr. Soloff. While he played "My Funny Valentine", it was apparent that Mr. Soloff was suffering from a stuffed nose. Whenever he took a breath, he sniffled. I don't know that others could hear it. Finally, he walked offstage and blew his personal horn while Mr. Moutin played lead on the bass violin, which actually became wet with Mr. Moutin's sweat.
Not many people were in attendance and it became apparent that most people in attendance were either friends or family members of the performers. After the show, while I was waiting for Mr. Soloff to autograph my poster, I overheard Mr. Soloff introducing a man wearing a Cosby sweater to the pastor as a childhood friend that found him on Facebook (Like Savior Faire, Facebook is everywhere). When I showed Mr. Soloff my poster, he asked me if it was an original one and I replied that it was a second printing. I told him that I was trying to obtain as many living performers as possible. He told the others around us, somewhat proudly, that he was there. He signed my poster and told me that once when he was playing in Brewster, NY, two men approached him with a similar quest that had driven up from Georgia just to see him. He kiddingly refused their request before signing whatever they wanted. I liked him. I also had him sign the program which I had also gotten Messrs. Kikoski and Moutin.
25 signatures down. Approximately, 79 to go.
To date, I have: 2 of 3 living who played with Arlo Guthrie 0 of 3 living of The Band 1 of 1 living who played with Bert Sommer 4 of 9 who played with Blood, Sweat, and tears 0 of 3 living of Canned Heat 1 of 4 or 5 living members of Country Joe & the Fish 0 of 3 living of Creedence Clearwater Revival 0 of 5 or 6 living of Crosby, Stills, & Nash (and Young) 2 of 5 living of The Grateful Dead 1 of 3 living who played with Jim Hendrix’s Gypsy Sun and Rainbows 1 of 4 living of The Keef Hartley Band 0 of 3 or 4 living of The Incredible String Band 0 of 5 or 6 living of Janis Joplin and the Full Tilt Boogie Band 4 of 5 living of Jefferson airplane 0 of 1, 2, or possibly 3 living who played with Joan Baez 1 of 3, 4, 5, or possibly 6 living of Joe Cocker and the Grease Band John Sebastian (he played solo) 1 of 3 living who played with Johnny Winter Melanie (she played solo) 1 of 3 living of Mountain 0 of 5, 6, or possibly 7 living of The Paul Butterfield Blues Band Arnold Skolnick – Poster Designer 0 of 3 living Festival Producers 0 of 3, 4, or possibly 5 living members of Quill 0 of 1, or possibly 2, living who played with Ravi Shankar 1 of 2, or possibly 3, living who played with Richie Havens 0 of 5 living of Santana 2 of 12 of Sha-Na-Na 0 of 7, or possibly 8, of Sly & the Family Stone 0 of 3 stage announcers 0 of 4 living members of Sweetwater 0 of 4 members of Ten Years After 0 of 5 living who played with Tim Hardin 0 of 2 living of The Who