... that was what the Greg Lyons Nonet (GLN) gig at No Black Tie was, last weekend. At least, that was what it was like for me! But I think ALL of us felt it... and everyone played their a$$es off last weekend too!
The GLN did a three-night stint at NBT last weekend from Thursday to Saturday. This was after over a year of the band taking a hiatus! I think the last performance I did with the GLN was at the Penang Island International Jazz festival almost two years ago! But anyhow, I think this was the best Nonet gig I've done so far, not just for me, but I think for the entire band in general! The music and the energy was just so overwhelming, I think this gig is a record for me - three straight GOOD nights in a row!! The most I've had was two!
Anyway, the band consisted of 9 members (hence, a NONET): rhythm section - Justin Lim (piano), AJ (drums), and the legendary and unimitable Andy Petersen on bass, and the horn section - Greg Lyons (bandleader/composer/arranger/saxophones), Julian Chan (alto sax, flute), Cheryl Mah (baritone sax), Eddie Wen and Boon Sim (trumpets/flugelhorn), and Lillian Loo (trombone). We played basically all of Greg's compositions and arrangements of non-originals.
What was interesting about this gig as well, was that we only had the Thursday afternoon to rehearse the band, and then play on the night itself. It was a challenge because we had two newbies to the band - Boon Sim and Lillian, and what made it even more challenging was that Greg's material is anything BUT straight-forward, with different kinds of grooves and odd-meters. The rest of the members were mostly familiar and a bit more comfortable with it, but what was really enjoyable about the whole experience was that I think we're better at it now, than the last time. After all, one-and-a-half years of continuous playing challenging music
does a lot for one's musical development! And personally, my flute playing is still crap, so that was a challenge in itself! But I made sure I practiced my flute a lot more during the week before the gig, just to get some chops back, and for most part, it held up!! Greg even made me solo on flute!! Man.. breathless!!
Anyway, we played a bunch of Greg's tunes, arranged for the Nonet, such as Out From The Shadows (a nice mixture of 7/4, 4/4, and 5/4 meters), Bridge of Sighs (this crazy one has 7/4, 2/4, and 6/4), Forward Motion (title track of his upcoming Nonet album), Heart Of Stone, Built To Last, Global Ties, Twin Flow, Spring Loaded (two nice swing-based tunes), and two new ones - Satin Doll (a nice new Afro-Cuban rhythm rearrangement), and East Coast Park (a fresh new tune, 5/4 triplet-feel - unfinished, though). Some other tunes that Greg did involved only me and Eddie, such as Up To You (one of Greg's early originals), and John Coltrane's Central Park West.
It was an amazing three-night gig for me, at least. I think Greg felt the same way, too. I was thinking about, I can only think of these few reasons:
- Greg's playing...
- Greg's music...
- Justin's playing.. man, this guy is a real "sat sau"!!!!
- Eddie's playing
- AJ's playing
- Andy's playing (OMG!)
- Everyone played with gutso and head-on energy!
- It was a good benchmark from the last show I did with the Nonet. I've actually found myself to be more musically connected more than before. And judging from the fact that Greg really put me on the spot with some solos on some his songs (he's never done that before!), I was mostly comfortable enough with the music to try to be creative with it... and I wasn't falling over myself doing it (not on the alto, at least.. flute? ecck..). I was really happy that Greg had the confidence to let me play at some of the solo spots on his tunes. If anything, it was sort of an affirmation of sorts... I have much more to learn, but I know that I've come a long way than I'd ever thought possible... and now, it's just a matter of moving on further.
At the end of the last note of the last night, I actually felt so happy... and sad, at the same time. I will miss this so much. I suppose I am heading for much more when I get my fat a$$ to NYC, but all this is something which is so close to my heart, I can't help feeling a little sad that I won't be getting to do this for a little while. All the musical ventures that I've been blessed to be a part of has been instrumental to whatever musical development I have now (which for me is still not a lot!). In some ways, maybe it was really for me to gear up for a bigger world. I think I'm getting ahead of myself here...
It had been an awesome musical experience over the last weekend. I hope some of you guys get to check out the Nonet if they're playing again KL! And I hope that the album gets released, too!
Special note to Greg:
Greg... thank you so much!! You've done so much for me, no words can describe my feeling of gratitude! I hope I've made you proud, and will try to continue to do so...