Last night, I ventured out with a small group from the neighborhood to visit the Velvet Lounge on the south side of Chicago, where our friend Jimmy Bennington is playing two dates on drums with the Julian Priester Trio. We've been checking out Jimmy regularly at our local coffee haunt the Ennui Café, where he plays a couple sets of amazingly evocative rhythms every Sunday evening.
Seattle trombonist and Chicago native Julian Priester, who give his name to the combo, has played with such jazz and blues legends as Muddy Waters, Dinah Washington, Sun Ra, Lionel Hampton, Art Blakey, Herbie Hancock and McCoy Tyner, among others (check out the Wikipedia article on Mr. Priester for a more complete list of his accomplishments and some good links to more info). Rounding out the group, and making the trip up from Missouri, is bassist Eric Warren who blew away the audience with his mastery of every part of the instrument.
I know some folks don't appreciate Jazz, especially when it branches into more abstract territory, but for me the experience of sitting in a darkened room listening to the primal rhythms and ethereal tones verges on the transcendental. As some might find the sacred in the intonations of religious texts, I encounter a very vibrant spirituality in these blues tinged notes.
Last night, I had a seat in the front and center of the room, and staring up at the commanding, spotlit figure of Mr. Priester, his trombone slide pushing out at me in mesmerizing jabs, I felt myself transported back to the church pew of my youth. Bathed in the liquid, thumping bass notes, the winding, pulsing brass melodies, and the shimmering, cascading drum beats, my mind was cleansed of everyday distractions and transported to a meditative calm that helped me appreciate life a little more.
Tonight, the Julian Priester Trio will work their magic for one more night. If you can make it down to the city's near south side, I highly recommend it.