Go online for a night at 'The Cool Spot'
So, you can click on a link, sign in and enter a live jazz club?
Well, kind of, as Portland musician Darrell Grant presents an innovative night of online fun in "The Cool Spot," 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 18. The event blends live jazz from a Portland club, theater, commentary and conversation to be "a place outside the chaos and constraints of ordinary life where light and sound combine as a vibration."
It's been a idea of Grant's for some 10 years to do such a show that has an essence of cool.
"I really wanted to capture people's imaginations," said Grant, a jazz musician, Jazz Society of Oregon Hall of Fame member and Portland State University music professor. "We're all sitting in our homes. There's this idea that we can be drawn into something that isn't familiar, and we're trying to create that ambience — it's a jazz club."
There'll be appearances by Grant's trio (himself, Eric Gruber, Tyson Stubelek), Tracey Bell, Dani Danger, Susannah Mars, Anis Mojgani, Vin Shambry, Kemba Shannon and Ben Turner.
There'll be no audience, and everybody in the room will be socially distant and wearing masks.
Grant says he, like other musicians, misses playing live. But this will have to do for now.
"It's hard to be inspired playing for an empty room," he said. "But, this particular opportunity arose. It seemed like I could do something that felt different and satisfying."
The livestream will take place on Grant's Facebook page, www.facebook.com/darrellgrantmusic/live, and YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/darrellgrant. (Yes, it can be accessed by people worldwide, and Grant hopes people from near and far click into "The Cool Spot").
For RSVP, go to the www.darrellgrant.com. There'll be a donation/tip mechanism to contribute to the show. Some proceeds go to the Stone Soup food service nonprofit.
It's a full hosted program of two hours. There has been some video shot and some contributed video, and there'll be live video and obviously a lot of arranged music to be played and words shared by the likes of Mojgani, the Oregon Poet Laureate.
"The only thing there's not a lot of is rehearsal," Grant said, chuckling. "But, people we're playing with are the best; my trio has been my trio for many years. You don't really appreciate the luxury of having rehearsal, though."
Grant has been thinking of such a show for about 10 years.
"You know when you have those ideas, and then, uh, it never happens?" he said. It's an idea that came from Grant's idea for a radio show, and how announcers and their voices just seem to take you to another place. At the time, he called it "The Cool Spot."
"I never forgot about it," he added. "I was really inspired by 'The Twilight Zone,' and 'imagine a place where' … that idea that it really transports you."
It's been a fun project online, but "I will never take for granted being able to walk into a room full of people (for a show), there's no way to make up for that. We're hoping we'll be able to create something that makes people feel connected."
And, maybe some cool will rub off. Grant said history shows that the feeling of cool comes from the Black jazz community, namely saxophonist Lester Young and other musicians such as Miles Davis ("Birth of the Cool" album). The Smithsonian museum in Washington, D.C., had an exhibit a few years back, "American Cool," which helped inspire Grant's idea.
"It's more than just wearing sunglasses at night. It's defiance with dignity," he said, of being cool. "You realize that so many other things are cool."
Grant hopes to repeat the show at a later date.
"Let's just say this is a premiere," he said. "We'll see. I hope it's something that we can explore more. It's been really collaborative. That's been the greatest thing about it; a lot of people coming together on this crazy idea.
"It seems like a format that's ripe for exploration."
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