Saturday, August 24, 2013

Tony and Ernie

© Gary Carner. Copyright Protected. All rights reserved.

This past Thursday I drove into midtown Manhattan in the rain to get Tony and Ernie.  British arranger Tony Faulkner and British percussionist Ernie Jackson were waiting for me at 2:30 outside their hotel on Eighth Avenue and 44th Street.

The New York theater district was abuzz with traffic and construction.  Summer tourists were dodging the downpour.  I was steering away from taxi cabs and amped-up, inattentive drivers. Uptown, the Yankees game was piling up traffic, and, across the Hudson, the Barclays golf tournament was adding another dimension to the congested urban landscape.

Tony and Ernie had flown into JFK from England on Wednesday. Their visit was scheduled to coincide with the mixing session I'd booked at Skyline Studios in Warren, New Jersey.  It also kicked off their two-week vacation in New York.  After more than a year of working together via email and Skype, this was Tony and my first time together, and we had considerable work to do, mixing our big band date.

Back over the George Washington Bridge, the rain had slackened and the sun was beginning to peek out from behind the clouds. The three of us drove to drummer Tim Horner's house in nearby Teaneck, New Jersey, where we met Tim and trumpeter Ron Horton.  Along the way, it was interesting to hear Tony and Ernie comment about the area's jazz history, things I take for granted, such as the road sign for "Hackensack."  

The reason for the meeting was to give Tony a chance to meet Tim and Ron and discuss our upcoming live recording. Over wine, Kentucky bourbon, and snacks, we explored the various aspects of the project.  Tim is one of the nicest people I've met in the industry, so it's always a pleasure being involved with him in any capacity.  

Our live tentet recording (Volume 7 of my Motema series) will be taped on November 9-10 in New York and Teaneck.  The esteemed jazz historian Dan Morgenstern will function as emcee.  Tony is writing new Pepper charts for the ensemble, though some will be adapted from his unrecorded big band Pepper arrangements.  Apart from the co-leaders, the band will include multi-instrumentalist Scott Robinson, bassist Martin Wind, and guitarist John Hart.

At about 5:30, Tony, Ernie, and I left Tim's place and drove to Little Falls, New Jersey to meet pianist and bandleader Diane Moser.  Diane had recommended a small Italian bistro, Bivio, that's owned by alto saxophonist Tommy Colao. Before Diane arrived for dinner, I took Tony and Ernie to a local pub, so they could get a pint of their beloved Guinness.  (Not deliberately a contrarian, I got the last bottle of my beloved Leffe.)  

On our walk to and from the pub, I noticed several Art Deco structures in town, one a small diner with a zig-zag roofline motif that had been converted into a pizzeria,  It was one of four pizzerias we saw on our short walk.  We also walked by a Chevrolet dealer.  This is the way it used to be in New Jersey in the sixties, before more and more car dealerships were built near malls or on major highways.

We all met Diane for the first time and she was an engaging dinner companion. Our meeting gave us a chance to discuss the November 13 concert of Tony's big band Pepper charts that's taking place at Trumpets in Montclair, New Jersey.  Since Diane is a regular at Bivio, she ordered for us.  The food at Bivio is superb and we had a great time!  Please support Tommy, if you're in the area.

After dinner, I drove Tony and Ernie to our hotel in Parsippany, formerly the "Sheraton Tara." The design of the building is modeled after an English castle.  Tony and Ernie were amused, since they know a thing or two about castles.  I left Tony and Ernie at the bar, with their pints of Guinness and a newfound compatriot from England.