This coming week, on Wednesday, February 19th, Bradley Williams’ New 21st Century Review collectively continues its weekly Wednesday shows at the sublime Jazz Showcase here in Chicago.
This week I’d like to address a certain feature unique to our presentation, the Musical Menu, copies of which you’ll find distributed on the tables when you arrive at this beautiful club.
Once upon a time, a person with whom I was very close, following my my career with interest (though not an experienced ‘Jazz Fan’,) made a remark to me. She said, and I paraphrase, “I like the music but I never know what they’re playing or where it comes from, so it’s hard to remember or identify later.” I thought, yes, this is true of a lot of Jazz performances. There can be a bit of the ‘exclusive club’ vibe which can lead folks who otherwise like the music feeling shut out and a little unsatisfied. And perhaps a potential fan discouraged.
When developing the concept of the Review, her comment rang in my ears. After all, if you go to a play or an opera you typically are offered a program with important background info and personnel. I says to myself, I says, “Self, there’s got to be a better way.” Why not share the carefully drafted plan of musical attack with the audience, the benefit being that they not only have the useful information at their fingertips but might look ahead to upcoming numbers and even the next set after the intermission? And so – I did.
The Musical Menus are also posted on the website each week in advance of the shows. They change, though, like any menu, certain favorite dishes stay. An audience member, when regretfully leaving, can pocket one and savor the musical panorama, maybe even share it with a friend. My omniscient narrator, who writes the stuff, seems to enjoy the job.
Now you and your children, and your children’s children, will never again have to guess their way through a 21st Century Review performance. Is that a Happy Ending or what?
By the way, the doodle of myself that we use for the upper left-hand graphic on the Musical Menu was done by my wonderful artist friend, Karen Thomas, also a long-time Chicagoan. We have known each other since childhood and her work appears in several of my album projects. Although I think she intended this particular piece as a draft I instantly became enamored with the “if Charles Dickens and Ben Franklin had a baby” look.
This is her original linocut entitled “Luther Eats.” It does not represent me but will soon become world-known.
Early warning – watch for the Compleat Hystory of the 21st Century Review, an account in many parts, appearing in a blog near you very soon.