Thursday, June 12, 2008
Luckily I finally had time to read the paper this past weekend, and I saw that my fave, Kurt Elling was playing at Yoshi's this week. I got tickets for the 8:00 show on Tuesday night.
Steve met me in Japantown for dinner. He got there before me and scoped it out. He decided he wanted to try this new place, O Izakaya, in the Hotel Kabuki. Steve's bud, Michael Bauer, had given it a good review. It is a pretty fun atmosphere. The place is decorated with these huge blowups of old Japanese baseball cards. Sort of gives it a retro Lichtenstein feel. They have a Happy Hour menu with a few selections discounted. Some of the small plates are pretty small. Just about everything on the menu is pretty spicy. Even the dessert had black pepper in it, kumquat beignets with black pepper creme fraiche. We tried the braised pork belly with housemade kimchi. Hint: this is not a Weight Watchers dish. The menu has a lot of different cocktails made with very unique ingredients. This would be a good place to meet a group of friends.
After dinner, we walked over to Yoshi's and got our seats for the show. Kurt played with his usual musicians: the brilliant piano player and arranger, Lawrence Hobgood (shown in the photo above with Kurt,) bassist Rob Amster and a new drummer, Kobie Watkins. Lawrence was featured on Marian McPartland's piano jazz show, but I missed it, being back east at the time. But we can listen to it now online at that link.
Kurt's a very hip guy. He likes to read poetry. He read Carl Sandburg's Prairie and a poem by Kenneth Rexroth that I didn't catch the title of.
The new drummer is good. He really has the "making faces" part of playing jazz down pat. I enjoyed watching him during his solos. I wished I had brought something to draw with. Kurt thanked us for coming out on "a school night". The show was only about half sold...lots of empty seats. So once the 8:00 show was over, they announced that everyone was invited to stay for the 10:00 show. Steve surprised me by saying he wanted to stay. We were so glad we did, as the second set was better than the first, and they didn't play any of the same songs. Kurt said, "Now we're warmed up." when they came out for the second set.
Kurt and Lawrence are working on a new CD, which will be a tribute to the Johnny Hartman/John Coltrane legacy. They played a couple of selections from this new project. I have to say, they weren't my favorites. I preferred the songs from his last CD, Night Moves, like Body and Soul and Tight. The guys seemed to be having a good time, and so were we. They did an interesting version of Stardust with a very long intro.
We had such a good time that we got tickets to go back and see Karrin Allyson in a couple of weeks.