I last wrote about my experience of attending a show by the Dave Gossage se7tet in November 2021 in the midst of the pandemic.
The music they play is in the same genre as “Bitches Brew”, or mid career Herbie Hancock: (Mwandishi,Headhunters,Thrust) or John Abercrombie or Jack DeJohnette’s Special Edition even the group “Focus”. But unmistakably Dave.
They were playing Café Resonance last time which fell victim to the pandemic and is no more. This time around they were playing the Diese Onze (Sharp eleven). The name is referring to a chord extension that is used frequently in modern jazz.
The locale is on St. Denis street and is more upscale than the Resonance was. Reservations were necessary. It was a full house and the cover was $15 for one show or $25 for both the seven o’clock and the nine o’clock. I went with my younger daughter again despite her living in NY, she always seems to be in Montreal when the Se7tet makes an appearance.
I made our reservation late as I made the mistake that people often do of clicking “going” on the event page but neglecting to make an actual reservation at that time. Because we reserved late, we had the last seats at an ell shaped bar. The sightlines were awful, but the sound was very professionally handled. The mix was even and all the instruments audible. I saw the sound engineer near us. He asked about the mix and he was controlling it with an app on his phone. I told him the mix was great, and I half-jokingly asked if he had an app to shut up the constant chatter of the three tables near us. He rolled his eyes in complete empathy with me and said he’d turn up the mix near us.
I don’t understand why people will pay a cover charge to enter a venue and be virtually unaware that there is music (art) being made in their presence and are oblivious that their chatter works against it. This is a whole other blog topic. I said to my daughter that the ell shaped bar was like The Village Vanguard in NYC with the exception that jazz audiences in NYC are reprimanded if they talk during a show.
I had ordered a burger, but the host came back after about ten minutes and told me they were out. My daughter had observed several being sent back and replaced. so perhaps the chefs were over or undercooking the meat. Bummer. I chose another option from the menu which appealed to me less, but was quite good despite the Dore being characterless and bland, the opposite of the music being presented.
We decided that if we couldn’t change places we wouldn’t stay for what used to be called a second set, but now is considered a second “show” with a second cover charge. We told the server that we’d like to change seats for the 9:00 “show” intending to leave if it were not possible.
He managed to seat us at the opposite end of the bar which was absolutely amazing for us. We were within touching reach of both Rich Irwin (the drummer) and Steve Raegele (the guitarist). The mix was not as good where we were, but the chatter was too far away to hear and we saw and heard the rhythm section as if we were part of the band except the monitors fo the horns were not pointed at us, so the mix was unbalanced. So What!
From where we now sat, I no longer felt the sting of a night out that was “less than expected”. We salvaged the experience and in the end, walked out into the winter air as better people. The music that these seven men made transported us. The new friends I made at the bar had a similar experience. I mentioned after the show that I felt “high” and they looked at me in wonderment and said they had just said exactly the same thing to each other.
There were two new members of the septet who brought different ingredients to the music of the ensemble. Remi-Jean Leblanc on Electric Bass brought a different feel than Adrian Verdady’s upright. Not better, but also not worse. When he kicked in the octave pedal it got pretty LOW and LOUD. vibrates the innards. Jerome Beaulieu on Keys did a stellar job and was funt to watch as he was so physically invested in the music.
Samuel Blais on Alto and Bari and electronics and Frank Lozano on Tenor sax were stellar and playful while playing and serious and pensive while awaiting their next cue.
Richard Irwin on Drums and Steve Raegele (playing a Les Paul Goldtop this time). were on their game. Dave may be the driver of this outfit, but Rich is the engine. He was so much fun to watch as he seemingly shut out the world and was wholly immersed in the music.
Dave, as I wrote in the other article controls everything by shouting out cues or giving hand signals Mingus-like to the others. Always a joy to see and hear.
I have some short clips that I will share below that don’t really do the music justice n Iphone has limited fidelity. They are short clips as I don’t like filming as much as experiencing.