Over a year ago, I asked Dad to pick out a concert so that I could purchase tickets for his birthday, but it has been difficult to find one that he could attend. So, when I heard Dad was coming for the weekend, I decided to surprise him and purchase tickets at the local jazz club in St. Louis: The Bistro at Grand Center. The Bistro is located in a really neat part of town - right down the street from Saint Louis University (where I worked for two years) and right across the street from the Fox Theatre and Powell Hall, the home of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.
After navigating through pouring rain and high winds (exhibit A: our hair), we made our way to the Bistro and sat on the left of the dining room very near the stage. (Feel free to move the cursor around on the linked site to look around the club. Make sure you see the windows and balcony above the dining room.) We had already eaten dinner at the Macaroni Grill, so we each decided to warm up with a delicious Cafe Mocha.
We had tickets to see someone who has been an acquaintance for a long time: Ron Carter. And, he was to be accompanied by "OGD", Organ, Guitar and Drums.
Ron Carter (not to be confused with jazz bassist, Ron Carter) is the head of Jazz Studies and conductor of the respected Jazz Ensemble at Northern Illinois University. We were very happy to hear Reggie Thomas (on organ) and Rick Haydon (on guitar.) The accompanying trio was filled out by Ron Carter's son, a fantastic fifteen-year-old drummer.
We realized we had many connections to the musicians on stage. Dr. Carter and Mr. Thomas had both been my judge or my lead conductor for several of the area, district and state jazz competitions when I was in high school, and they know our hometown band director very well. Ketra's brother, Andy, played first trombone in the Northern Illinois University jazz ensemble under Dr. Carter's direction. Aaron's best friend from high school, Scott Farr, and a family friend, Travis Lewis, both studied at SIU-E under Mr. Haydon and Mr. Thomas. So, we were able to have a short chat with each of them after the set.
The time went by so quickly. Some of the highlights were Days of Wine and Roses with some great improv solos, Stormy Monday Blues sung by Dr. Carter... and Angel Eyes, sung by a guest performer, Dr. Carter's twelve-year-old daughter. It had been a long time since I had attended a concert like that, and I have truly missed it. It was a really great concert - especially because I could be there with Dad.