For Christmas, I treated the filmmaker to a date night at the wonderfully renowned Village Vanguard; last Friday, we saw Al Foster and his quartet, and the experience was perfect. Cramped and intimate, in the basement-belly of the building, the room almost seems a time vacuum, untouched for decades, other than the constant new vibrational waves of song from rotating performers, and the dissipation of the clouds of cigarette and cigar smoke of bygone eras. Scattering network of tables, nearly touching, the interior is reminiscent of traditional Parisian cafes. Walls decorated with magnificent jazz masters, there is an immediate and palpable aura of tradition and rich history within.
The group wore sharp suits, fitting suits for their general demeanor; crisp for the upright bassist and the pianist, a bit dulled and crumpled for Mr. Foster. While they played their set, he maintained on his face a look of pure ecstasy; it is a safe assumption that he loves nothing more than he loves his drums. In subtle melody nods, they paid homage to the great late Dave Brubeck, and while Mr. Foster was certainly the front man, each infused their pieces with personality and, occasionally, borrowed the spotlight. For anyone in or near the New York area, especially any true lovers of live music, the Village Vanguard is a must destination.
(images taken from NPR)