I hope that the imposing but warm figure in the portrait below is becoming known to JAZZ LIVES’ readers. That’s Joel Forrester, pianist / composer / arranger / bandleader / occasional vocalist.
I’ve been making regular pilgrimages to Forrester-shrines (find out for yourself here): most regularly his Saturday-afternoon performance at Cafe Loup on Thirteenth Street near Sixth Avenue, 12:30 – 3:30. That place has the friendly coziness (and none of the dust and clutter) of my living room — thanks to Byron and Sally, thanks to the careful people in the kitchen, and thanks to Joel.
In between sets, sometimes Joel and I talk about people, and music, and literature . . . which might have made me — not all that whimsically — characterize each performance of his as a wordless short story. He is a writer, by the way. But that metaphor came to seem a little too pretentious for me, and on the way home from this Saturday afternoon’s recital-with-friends, I thought, “Postcards. That’s it.” It has occurred to me more than once that Joel starts out on a journey of his own each time he begins to play, whether the material is his or not, and thus I could see individual improvisations as brightly-colored souvenirs from the Land of Boogie-Woogie, the visit to the Country of Cheesy Fifties Pop Tunes that have real music embedded in them, Joel and Mary’s visit to Paris, his homage to Fate Marable’s riverboat music as heard by Meade Lux Lewis, and so on.
I offer five more such delights from Joel’s recital of June 3, at Cafe Loup.
A lightly swinging blues, SWEET AMNESIA:
Soundtrack music for a short film about improvised dance, LUNACY:
Proper Kerning, CAN’T HELP LOVIN’ THAT MAN:
A visit to Fats Domino, I WANT TO WALK YOU HOME:
Gershwin and W.C. Handy play gin rummy, SUMMERTIME:
I encourage the musically-minded to come visit Joel at Cafe Loup, but something quite rare and unusual is happening later this week: the Joel Forrester Five is playing a one-hour gig on Thursday, June 29 — from 6-7 PM at The Shrine (2271 Seventh Avenue between West 133 and 134th Streets. The Five is (are?) Joel, piano, compositions; Michi Fuji, violin; Michael Irwin, trumpet; David Hofstra, string bass; Matthew Garrity, drums. (It’s the 2 or 3 train to 135th Street.) I’ve never heard this band before, and I look forward to this gig.
May your happiness increase!