Requiem for Twins Jazz Club in Washington, DC
Promotion and Success seem to travel in 2 ways: you work your way to the top, get there and shine or you get elevated prematurely and learn to fly once pushed out the nest.
In the Summer of 2001 The EBT was certainly learning to fly.
Having recently become Jazz Ambassadors via the Kennedy Center and US State Dept, we started practicing to prepare for the September 6 week South American tour. I believe it was Alphonso who suggested we find some place to play this music for the people. Bear in mind the 3 of us had only played together a handful of times at this point in our careers.
Bhagwan had a simple choice: let’s take our music to Twins Jazz.
For a guy like me who didn’t grow up in the DMV, Twins Jazz always had a reverent place in the lexicon of this music. Getting into playing, meeting cats, getting the occasional gigs, whenever I heard who was coming to Twins it became obvious this was a serious jazz room. It required a serious commitment from artists to play serious music. I was intimidated but went with B to negotiate.
The Twins were great. They hugged me which was lovely. We played hardball and wore them down to get us to play 2 sets of music every Wednesday night starting 8p. And if anyone came in for the music and not just the great decor, drinks or food, we have an outside chance of getting paid lol. I remember the quizzical look on Goldie’s face when I said ‘yes, I’ll be gone all Wed night all summer, probably for no money, but the music!….’
We played a lot of music for very little people. Every Wednesday night. June, July and most of August. I remember the strange sensation of playing our burning, super swinging closer we planned on ending concerts with in South America, hitting the last chord and receiving silence as applause. It was off-putting to say the least, but the Twins loved us. Loved me. Stayed supportive. Didn’t pay us, but they were great!
We finished the summer residency and went to South America for 6 weeks. Our first stop, Colombia was were got the news about the Towers and Pentagon. My first real touring experience taught me a lot of things I needed to thank Twins for. On tour there’s no time to practice. I couldn’t get keyboards or pianos in my room or in the hotel so, the first time we played all day was 2 hours before a sold out show. I didn’t have the confidence to alter the set list much because we relied on what was familiar. In other words, if we weren’t given a place to be creative, to work out arrangements, to sequence, alter and adjust the set lists that summer at Twins Jazz we would not have been successful. Thank you for that.
That was almost 20 years ago and we’re still playing and practicing, employing some of the same lessons we learned on that stage with that less than Steinway piano so long ago. Sometimes you don’t know how something develops your art until you have time to reflect. To play with such great talent there and to be a fly on the wall for some great shows is a highlight. I’m blessed to have been a very small part of the Twins Jazz lineups through the years.
I don’t know what the future holds; I know who holds the future. I will be prayerful Twins Jazz will reinvent themselves in a way that is new and improved – maybe a better piano 🙂 – and gives some inexperienced kid a shot. I’m sure they will. They did it for me and many of you. Here’s hoping they get to do it again.