Mike Stern in La Trastienda (March 21st, 2015) with Dave Weckl, Tom Kennedy and Bob Franceschini

A drummer I admire (*) says that it is very important not to forget breathing while one is playing. Today, during the formidable show that we had the luck to witness, I reminded his* words to myself: “Do breathe, Patricia”. And I added from my own: “Do allow the music to go through you; do feel the happiness that all your cells have”. And I silently thanked Dave Weckl for having come, Mike Stern for having called him, the bass player for being from another planet and the sax player for giving me the opportunity to feel that thing, so special, that I felt with his music.

Also, during the show, for a second I thought: “Today María Noel suggested I could maybe write an account… it would be a huge audacity to talk about this. This is to be lived, to be felt, but not to be spoken about, because one runs the risk of spoiling it”.

And here I am writing about it, because, in the first place, as a good human being, I’m contradictory; secondly, I want to be able to return here in 5 or 10 years and better remember the feelings that I lived today; and thirdly, I needed to land a little bit more. Even if I returned on foot and verbally overwhelming the drummer who came with me, I still can’t go to sleep with this total craziness that I feel right now. All my cells are vibrating as if I were plugged in to 220 watts.

While waiting outside, joking a little and also meaning it, a friend and I said: “Today, let’s have Mike Stern doing a basis for Weckl to show off”. The thing is that even if I have always loved Mike Stern, to see Dave Weckl for the first time generated so much expectation in me that during the past 4 days I have been nervous, thinking about today. On the way to La Trastienda today I felt incredibly excited and all my body vibrated as if I were going to a blind date or to some super important event. “Don’t make such a fuss, calm down”, I told myself on the bus, but I found no way to do that. I was clearly anticipating it.

Some relaxed compasses started to sound and a very short while later Weckl played a fill with a little more presence and the generalized commotion was clearly felt. The presence of those sounds was of such power that I started tripping right there. I did not want to get out of my centre because I wanted to live it all and to remember it later (if one gets too excited, one doesn’t remember anything afterwards), and all that flowed based on breathing and allowing myself to be taken by music and beauty.

Mike Stern is still the most pleasant guitar player from abroad that I have seen. I know that he probably says the same phrase everywhere, but it gives the impression that he really enjoys coming to play here. His melodies are all affectionate pieces. They have that mix of complete sweetness and joy, a not so common and very appreciated combination. There were a couple of sadder songs but I welcomed them because they helped me ease a little and prevented me from exploding in a million particles and leaving La Trastienda filled with cells and blood drops. [A horrible image, right? But that’s what was avoided, so it’s not so bad].

I can’t and I don’t want to talk about each piece, but here is what I want to remember:

Immediately after they started, each one had their solo moment. It was then that my jaw dropped open with the bass player and never closed again. Holy shit, that man, Tom Kennedy, is from another galaxy. What he plays and how he plays it is of an overwhelming virtuosity and beauty. Wow.

At some later moment, Tom Kennedy and Dave Weckl made something absolutely wonderful together. It was not a solo of one or the other, it was something composed between bass and drums. Composed or improvised, but a creation of the two. Each of them was incredibly free and had fun individually, creating together something that may be what I liked most from the show. I felt like dancing, like yelling, like going to hug them… it was something huge. I have always paid special attention to what the drums do while the bass is soloing. There are several schools on this: that the drums don’t have to bother the bass too much, that the drums have to “talk” with the bass player, that the drums only have to do a basis for the bass to play at ease, that the drums has to lower the volume for the bass to be heard better or not to do that because the bass can get the volume up… that’s it, theories. Today’s was a master class of how bass and drums together can make a fantastic unrivalled musical piece. AAAh. That was something! I want to have it filmed, I want to be able to watch it a thousand times more and to get into the same emotion several other times. It’s something to play on Monday mornings then go and eat the world. The speed of Kennedy’s fingers is unbelievable. But it’s not speed for speed’s sake and for demonstrating anything. It was speed at the service of music and, I don’t know… my heart stopped every five seconds. Here I found a video that gives you an idea, though it was filmed five years ago. It seemed to me that today’s sounded much better.


What Dave Weckl and Mike Stern did together was something magical too. Let’s see what I want to remember about what this master Weckl did? I want to remember the powerful presence simultaneoulsy coexisting with delicacy and sweetness in his playing. I want to remember his melodies on the toms, and how wonderful his floor tom-tom sounded. I want to remember the beauty of his crash sound, which he played very often when Mike played higher-pitch notes. I want to remember how nearly each time he played a crash or a splash he accompanied it by a soft but firm hit on the bass drum. Also the beauty of the sound that he made with the sticks on the snare drum’s ring and the volume hues with which he accompanied each note from Mike. How he pressed with his left stick one of the small toms for it to sound different (higher pitch, I believe). And please, Patricia, don’t you ever forget about that other piece, which they played near the end, only drums and guitar, and Dave played with his fingers. The sound he produced with his fingers! The hues of volume he managed! The sound combinations, the outstanding rhythm, the accompaniment of melodies, the fun that man had while he created. And the brushes? He did something similar to a train… or something like that, I don’t know, but it sounded absolutely delightful and it flowed and flowed, and one went further away, higher each time.

I loved Bob Franceschini too. His sound is so wonderful, sweet, clean, frontal, and it combines wonderfully with Mike Stern’s music. His sound gave me goose bumps. Saxes are lately hypnotizing me very much. And this man does not only play wonderfully but he also knows when not to play. I loved his long silences which generated a greater delight when he retook his music. The value of silence in music: something else to remember.

When the show was over I had the impression that it had lasted half an hour. It seemed too short. But no, it lasted a normal length of time… evidently my perception was altered. Thank God they played three encores and, in fact, nobody wanted to let them leave.

Not long ago I read that it’s not convenient to clap at the end of a musical show that you really enjoyed because in that clapping you let go the accumulated energy and you loose it. Today I consciously clapped quite a lot because I needed, exactly, to throw out some of that energy because it was difficult to resist such an accumulation.

Let’s hope they come again and, especially, Weckl. It was really a luxury to be able to live that today. I am super happy to have gone.

Last night I wrote:

One goes to bed, right? just like at the end of any given day. And tomorrow starts another day, right? Just as if it were any other day. But it happens that tomorrow will be far from being any other day. Tomorrow Master Dave Weckl will play the drums in a closed site where I will be too. I mean, my ears will receive the sound produced by the hitting of his sticks on the skins and that sound will reach my being through the air. Dave Weckl and I will breathe the same air tomorrow night, so I will have some of his essence and he will have some of mine. No, it won’t be any day.

And it was a different day, indeed. This concert will remain in that little corner of my heart where I keep a few very special concerts.

Here there is something very similar to what we lived last night, for those who may not have been able to go or for who, as is my case, may need to repeat the dose. https://youtu.be/h5a-shtMqzc

P.S. Good work, La Trastienda. Both the sound and the volume were great.

(*) Peter Erkine’s (I thought it was too weird to start a review about Weckl mentioning Erskine).


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