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Back Roads Beat

2007 North Sea Jazz Cruise: Day 2-3

By Published: July 12, 2007
"There was a huge theater jam session (on one cruise) where a guy tried to stop me and I said, 'Hey, I'm with the band and I just kind of snuck my way back," he said. "I met the guy who does 'Riffs' for XM Radio who was looking for radio material. The sound guy was about to kick us out when Nick Colionne came out and he said, 'Cool,' shook my hand and said 'Everybody's welcome.' Ever since then I've been trying to get on every cruise I can and jam with them."

Silveria met Michael Paulo during a cruise from Galveston, Texas, about two years ago, who emphasized the value of a demo.

"He told me when I jammed with him on the last ship, 'Hey, get a CD, send me a CD and I'll try to help you out,'" Silveria said.

The demo proves Silveria capable of joining a jam without embarrassing himself or the group, but shows no standout examples of technique, tone or improvisational concept. The songs are far too short—three are barely a minute each; the exception is "All Jam" (get MP3)—to establish bona fides. Also, as with most one-man-band efforts, the backing tracks wind up deterring the feeling of professionalism. When I mentioned this and suggested he bring his guitar friend and others into the studio, he was receptive and said he has a more experimental recording he's been reluctant to let people hear so far, but agreed to loan me a copy. If so, I'll see if an updated opinion is in order.

Progressing forward, rocking back

If Marcus Miller's opening night concert revived fun-filled fusion memories from high school, the Day 2 main performance by Roy Hargrove inspired thoughts of the caffeinated intellectualism of college.

The trumpeter was in his progressive straight-ahead mode on the first of two consecutive nights of being the featured artist. It is, in my opinion, his stronger side, the kind of young lion stuff I associate with favorites of the early '90s like the Marsalis and Harper brothers. The 90-minute set didn't disappoint, giving plenty of space to each of about a half a dozen songs whose titles I don't know (sadly, I confess there's plenty of times I rely on set lists if I can get them). Photos were once again banned, so my Blurry Bootleg Of The Day comes as they took their final bow with Miller playing host by rousing the crowd.

Hargrove spent most of the evening playing dense and high, but also conceded much of the stage time to saxophonist Justin Robinson???????, who seemed to be playing more aggressively in the same manner. Robinson's quick fingerings were a balanced mix of links and jumps, seldom needed to repeat to build tension and explored a greater part of the scale, including one just before the encore where he took on a rugged growl that slided, rather than stepped, from note to note.

The weakness of the show, to the degree there was one, was the rhythm players were playing more vigorously than interactively, which is great for allowing soloists to stand out but falls below that top category of special in a sense of satisfaction. But, as one of my rough notes states, "it's a good contemporary straighthead package where the beat made the show as accessible and the solos as challenging as listeners wanted."

I dropped in briefly on the late Day 2 gig by saxophonist James Carter in the top-level lounge and he seemed to be blowing the doors off, but the place was absolutely packed, smoky and I couldn't wedge my way close enough to get even a glimpse of the stage. He's got a bunch of gigs coming, so I retreated and listened to some of the second night of collaborations between saxophonist Frank Morgan and pianist Bill Mays. Because I already ranted about their Day 1 gig and to save space, I and everybody else I talked to agreed it was as note-for-note captivating as the first.

Day 3: Some Sour Notes In Comparison

Saturday morning I again fought off the drowsiness to make the 9 a.m. "Java and Jazz" event and again nothing resembling a band was there.

This time a few people besides me were asking and again nobody seemed sure of the answer. But about an hour later a bypasser interrupted an inquiry and said he's been told something I might have figured out by carefully rereading the day's event bulletin, where a detailed description appeared for the first time: "A wonderful selection of music featuring the world-reknowned musicians we feature onboard"—then, after a few sentences about their lovely coffee and tea—"and while you're there, you may just bump into one of them. (my emphasis added)"


Considering their albums are playing pretty much all of the time anyway, I have no idea why this a daily featured activity. But sleeping in is no longer an issue.

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