I have to admit, I embarked somewhat begrudgingly on my first jazz venture, as I frankly just didn't get it. Approximately seven seconds into the first set, I changed my tune (no pun intended). Saxophone player Cody Miller (of River Bottom Funk) was sitting in with the four core members of the G Majors, and suffice it to say I was blown away. Throughout the course of the evening, several people joined in the open mike-type format. At one point there were five horn players on stage, including the lovely and talented Sonja Hannington. The audience was even treated to a couple of standards performed by local celebrity Stesha Cano. The feeling in the room was amazing. The energy was palpable. I actually felt like I was in an Ernie Barnes painting (the real artist responsible for J.J.'s paintings on “Good Times,” to save you the Google).
According to Wells Gordon, Bangor didn't have a “jazz jam,” but had many talented jazz musicians and vocalists. Seeing the need for this forum, he joined forces with drummer Andrew Clifford of Maine Street Studios, guitarist Josh Small of River Bottom Funk and pianist Brian Catell of The Jump City Jazz Band.
“Jazz is a great form of self expression and is engaging when being performed” said Gordon. “You have to listen and react to who you are playing with, especially at a jam, where there are no rehearsals and you are making music on the spot. It's kind of like a puzzle that needs to be solved while you are walking a tight rope.”
Having played professionally in the United States and Europe for nearly 20 years, Gordon clearly has the chops to give Bangor an impressive jazz experience. He not only wows the crowd with his upright bass skills, but serves a charming host to the audience and any musicians and singers that care to join in.
“These jazz evenings at Nocturnem have given many local jazz musicians a chance to really shed tunes they may or may not be familiar with, myself included,” said drummer, Andrew Clifford. “The vibe between all the cats at the jam is peace. Wells is a breath of fresh air to the jazz scene here in Bangor. He's connected many great musicians together and helps the scene here flourish! I'm proud to be in the circle of all the talent here in Maine."
I look forward to more Tuesday nights at Nocturnem enjoying the wide spectrum of jazz styles offered by Mr. Wells Gordon and his, well ... cats.
I feel like a grown-up.
For more information, contact Nocturnem Draft Haus 56 Main Street Bangor (207)907-4380, or check it out on the Facebook that the kids are doing.