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Notes From The Road: Paul Nedzela


Photo: Frank Stewart

News | Jul, 20th 2015

Blue Engine,North East Line

This was the first time I had ever played at Tanglewood.The last time I was there I was around 4 or 5 years old when my parents took me to go see Ray Charles.I'm pretty sure I might have slept through a good chunk of the show, but that doesn't mean it didn't seep in. I had to ask Kenny Ramptonwhen he was playing with Ray to see if it was possible that I could have been watching him back then. I think I was ahead of him by just a couple couple of years.

Ozawa Hall was beautiful and had incredible sound.  I remember the trombone section had a great battle there on I Got Rhythm.  They were each getting into their own sounds but still listening to and feeding off of each other, continuing the narrative. There was a delicious dinner for us, and there was actually a ping pong tablein this open air waiting area.  So cats would be playing on the intermission and after the show.  I remember afterwards there was a long line of students who came to check out the show, and at the end they were just enthralled with the ping pong match going on.  The questions stopped being about music and more about how to get top spin.

Portsmouth, NH is a beautiful town and I remember being there with the band a couple of years ago.  It's a smaller hall there but I usually really enjoy those halls because it feels more intimate, and it's good to feel the energy of the audience.  Sherman brought the house down with Isfahan as an encore, and definitely put his own thing on it. 

The next two nights were outdoor jazz festivals in Syracuse and then Katonah, NY. In Syracuse we weren't sure the full band would even be able to play for a while because the rain and wind kept knocking over music stands and mics while they were just trying to set it up.  But we did.  Music was getting blown off, the piano and horns were getting wet, but the feeling was there in abundance. Sometimes those less than perfect scenarios force you to play in different ways and that's what struck me the most about that gig.  Ali Jackson was laying it down definitively, and there was no other option. The band was swinging hard.  Chris Crenshaw set it up with I Left My Baby right away, and the blues was thick.  Walter Blanding took a solo that amplified what everyone in the audience was already feeling. 

The Caramoor Festival in Katonah was truly hip.  It is rare to walk into a jazz festival these days and hear the swinging from a distance.  Players from different bands were all hanging back stage. It was a glimpse into what I imagine it must have been like back in the day.  Wynton played an unbelievable solo on his composition,Offertory: Lamb of God. You'd think one would get desensitized to hearing greatness, but if anything I appreciate it all the more now.  To hear how all the great players in the band are able to develop night after night, and to continue to put themselves into everything that they play. 

That's one of the things that I love about playing with this band, no matter what the situation, everyone is there to play, consciously, presently, and wholeheartedly.


Keep up with Paul Nedzela by visiting his Website,Liking him on Facebook,and Following him on Twitter. Check out more photos from the Blue Engine Tour on Facebook. 


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