"He's a man of few words, but he doesn't need many," drummer Paul Romaine told me between sets at Houston Person's Colorado Springs show last Thursday.
True enough, the 77-year-old jazz giant expressed himself with profound eloquence throughout the evening, his tenor sax filling Packard Hall with deeply resonant and sublimely melodic takes on classics like Horace Silver's "Juicy Lucy" and Benny Carter's "Only Trust Your Heart."
A bandleader and accompanist to vocalists ranging from Lena Horne to Etta Jones (with whom he toured and recorded for 35 years), the South Carolina native was backed by a gifted trio of Denver musicians that featured Romaine — whose unorthodox drum solo brought a huge smile to the saxophonist's face — as well as pianist Jeff Jenkins and bassist Ken Walker, who performs regularly with Barbara Ernst in Mistura Bela.
After thanking the crowd for sticking through the second set — despite competition from the NFL and vice presidential debate — Person eased into the closing "What a Wonderful World," the most beautiful live version of the ballad I've ever heard. While neither Jones nor Louis Armstrong were around to sing it, the song's sentiment came through so clearly that, after Person played the "wonderful world" line at the end of the first verse, he stepped back and exclaimed, "It is!" And for that night, in that place, it definitely was.
OK, as long as we're being uncharacteristically sincere, here's an event that's far removed musically but embodies a similar generosity of spirit: Triple Nickel owner JJ Grueter is planning a two-night benefit to help raise funds for the fight against cancer.
"I lost my mom, my big sister, and my big brother last year from cancer," explains JJ. "And about a month before he passed, my brother's 27-year-old-son was diagnosed with leukemia. I think it's time I do something to help some people out."
In addition to JJ's band the Nobodys, acts who've signed on for the Nov. 9-10 fundraiser include El Toro de la Muerte, Lenny Lashley (of Lenny & the Piss Poor Boys), Chad Price (of All and Drag the River fame), Magic Cyclops and the Mostly Don'ts. Plenty more to be announced, so stay tuned.
Meanwhile, since this column is going on vacation for a couple weeks and there are tons of great local shows coming up, here are a few more longer-range highlights.
On Nov. 3, Indy Music Awards "People's Choice" winner Claymore Disco will hold its CD release show at the Black Sheep. The album is called Year of the Disco: Gold Edition, to distinguish it from a stealth version released online earlier this year.
"We never told anyone about it and it never got promoted," says lead vocalist/keyboardist Garret Myers. "We were never really satisfied with where the album was, but released it anyway. Then it really hit us that we made a mistake in releasing it."
So the band re-recorded all vocals, retracked synths, rewrote some intros, and remixed and remastered the whole thing. Opening the all-ages show will be fellow 20-somethings — guessing here, haven't checked birth certificates — Bad Maps, Knights in Colors and Photo Noir.
And now, Halloween shows: Monsters of Mock will feature Chuck Snow & the Lo-Fi Cowboys performing hits and misses of the Replacements, Mike Stephens and cohorts doing Van Halen, and Malakai, which does a mean version of "No Sleep Till Brooklyn," taking on the Beastie Boys. You've got four shots, so no excuses: Oct. 26 at Zodiac, the 27th at Triple Nickel, 31st at Jack Quinn's and, one last make-up gig, Nov. 10 at McCabe's.
Then there's Dragontown Dan's Alice Cooper tribute Oct. 20 at Zodiac, Monster Mash Halloween Costume Concert Oct. 26 at Sunshine Studios, and Grass It Up with the Rocket Flies — a new band featuring Chauncy Crandall, David Jeffrey, Michael Litzle and Todd Bruington doing a rap medley plus Steel Panther's "Eatin' Ain't Cheatin'" — Oct. 31 at Front Range Barbeque.
Until next time then, be safe and haunt responsibly.