Jay Meehan: A most soothing port in any storm
Park Record columnist
Rolled out of the sack last Saturday morning with residual bruising from the previous night’s Hurricane Harvey news updates coupled with the layered onslaught of Typhoon Trump. Before I even allowed myself time to consider collateral damage wrought by Secretary of Interior Zinke, I groped for the only relief cocktail that came to mind.
Locating the familiar plastic container under a pile of used-napkins, bills, notebooks, newspaper sections, old photos, and the stack of DVDs I hope to get to sometime this millennium (organization is my strong suit)), I quickly poured its contents down the throat of the desktop mounted CD-player.
From the opening Saxophone riffs, the angst and anxiety began melting away. Gotta give self-medication a shout-out here. As with any good drug, I had scored in the shadows of hastening twilight — the exchange of money for product as seamless as the back-and-forth trade-offs of the high-end jazz solos emerging from the speakers.
On the evening in question, the extraordinarily accomplished multi-instrumentalist John Flanders had brought a most-eclectic combo to Heber City for their Thursday Concerts in the Park Series. During intermission, I sought him out to score some of the CD stash that I hoped had arrived with him.
If memory serves, my first contact with John and his seeming mission to embellish organized sound with levels of sophisticated “fills” and solos occurred when attending what I thought would be a “Small House Strings” show.
Speaking of virtuosity, most anytime I had the opportunity to catch the acoustic-duo of Marty Morrison and Drew Frink, doing so had become a given. This particular show, however, with the addition of a third party, became “Small House Trio.”
The new cat on the block turned out to be the aforementioned alchemist John Flanders and he was flat-out having his way with an Electronic Valve Instrument, a somewhat peculiar axe of the woodwind persuasion known in the vernacular as an EVI.
The fit couldn’t have been better. The command of inventiveness, tempo, and ensemble mindset he brought to the table appeared to give Marty and Drew additional creative space within that already quite “heady” musical neighborhood they inhabit.
The first thing I noticed related to the always-cool duo becoming a bit more adventurous with arrangements. The jazz standard “So What” began to sound a bit less like Jerry Garcia and David Grisman’s quite-hip interpretation and more like the somewhat complex Sextet take of the original Miles Davis recording.
Later, Marty would introduce me to the live R&B, Latin, and rock rapture of “Sin City Soul,” an ever-evolving ensemble and another of John’s highly popular projects. Goes without saying but this outfit packs a punch. Both the brain and body are called upon to process a sum total of ecstasy that can, when they really get in a groove, approach flood stage.
But back to the surreptitious acquisition of my Saturday morning fix. It was a familiar “bindle,” to be sure. I recognized the packaging of the John Flanders & Double Helix CD “The Go Between” immediately. There was little doubt that its doppelganger reposed somewhere around my digs as a result of “uploading” interactions with iTunes a half-dozen years ago.
There’s also little doubt in these parts about where my first copy came from. My friend Kathleen Taylor, known as “KT” among our musically active peers, is and has long been associated with players within the music scenes of Park City and, seemingly, all of greater northern Utah.
Which brings us to LA tour and studio guitar-slinger-for-hire Mike Miller who sat in on “The Go Between” with Flanders and pianist Mitchel Forman – another whose sideman resume is equally as gaudy. KT is good friends with Flanders and Miller so she’s obviously one of the usual suspects for mysteries involving local talent CD distribution.
There’s also an emotional component that I seem to be sidestepping. “The Go Between” happens to be the final CD Wayne Christiansen worked on prior to his tragic death in an auto accident back in the summer of 2010.
Wayne happened to be one of those people everyone loved and I doubt for those close to him that there will ever be any getting over it. It takes a village to come thru hurricanes and typhoons with much sanity these days. And although it’s been out for years, this CD proved just the village to pull it off.
Jay Meehan is a culture junkie and has been an observer, participant, and chronicler of the Park City and Wasatch County social and political scenes for more than 40 years.
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