Friday, November 30, 2007

Rondi Charleston

11/12/07, The Dakota: After her teaser show on Sunday the 11th, Rondi Charleston returned to the Dakota with her full band, and what a band it is: Bruce Barth on piano, Joel Frahm on tenor sax, Dave Stryker on guitar, Rufus Reid on bass, Hadar Noiberg on flute, and Alvester Garnett on drums. I'd never seen Frahm live before but have often listened to his CD with pianist Brad Mehldau, Don't Explain. He can come back anytime.

The affectionate rapport between Rondi and her band was fun to see as they performed old standards and new songs: "Someone to Light Up My Life," Frank Loesser's "I Hear Music," the lovely "Estate" (Summer) sung previously by Shirley Horne, "Telescope" (words by Rondi, music by Bruce), the Beatles' "In My Life," Carole King's "Beautiful," Bill Evans's "Waltz for Debby" (love the melody, hate the lyrics..."In her own sweet world/populated by dolls and clowns/and a prince and a big purple bear"...I'm going to bring a pea shooter to jazz shows and use it every time I hear about that bear).

We also heard "Fragile as a Song" by King Crimson bassist Tony Levin, which describes his experience of playing music with bonobo apes and Peter Gabriel. Frankly, I don't think that one will enter the canon anytime soon. Small world: Levin plays the Chapman Stick, which I recently wrote about for MinnPost. Levin's latest album is big on the stick.

While things onstage were warm and fuzzy, a drama played out at a table between us and the band. She: low-cut, big hair, too many champagne cocktails. He: Walter Mitty, buttoned-down, phone blinking on belt. She gets louder; he says something; she can't believe he would dare, pulls her hand away, marches off to the ladies (for the third time), returns, gulps her drink, slams her glass down, shatters the base (it's a stem), and suddenly she's holding a sharp spear of glass pointed in his direction. Will she plunge it into his heart? We hold our breath--and so, we hear later, does the band, who are all trying to ignore what's happening under their noses.

Photo by John Whiting. L to R: Bruce, Rufus, Hadar, Alvester (hidden), Rondi, Dave. Rondi wore a red dress that was an engineering marvel. She snagged it on a bracelet; I hope it can be fixed.

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