The Beauty of Collaboration

by Jason on January 29, 2011 · 7 comments

in Gigs, Thoughts

Me & Karen Having All Kinds of Fun - Photo by Darrah Parker

You know how sometimes you get a good idea, and you’re pretty sure it’s going to work well, and then it happens and works better than you could’ve ever imagined. I had just such an experience on Sunday when the Jason Parker Quartet joined author Karen Walrond on stage for a reading of her new book, The Beauty of Different: Observations of a Confident Misfit.

This event took place because my lovely wife has been following Karen on Twitter for some time now, and when Karen tweeted about wanting to find cool and different things to do for her book tour, Darrah suggested she come to Seattle to collaborate with the JPQ. Everyone agreed right away that this was a fabulous idea, but none of us knew exactly how it would work or what the response could be.

Because we’re all risk-takers, and are always on the lookout for cool ideas, we forged ahead with the plan. Within a week we had booked the date at Lucid Jazz Lounge, Karen had bought her plane tickets and we were off!

In my mind, I had a vision of the beatnik poetry readings I’ve seen in films and TV. Check out the Steve Allen/Jack Kerouac collaboration at the bottom of this post to see what I mean. I honestly had no idea what Karen was thinking. But after meeting her and spending an afternoon talking, laughing and eating with her I knew that whatever happened it was going to be different and it was going to be beautiful!

Now That's a Good Pair!

We arrvied at Lucid on Sunday and set everything up. At this point, we still had no idea if anyone would even show up! But show up they did, to the point that there wasn’t an empty seat in the house by the time we started! The JPQ played a tune to warm up (my composition “Contact”), and then Karen joined us. With no rehearsal and only a brief conversation about which excerpts she’d read and how the band would fit in, we launched into 8 performances that were truly glorious to be a part of. I knew that my band would know just how to sensitively and passionately add what we do to Karen’s beautiful and inspiring words, and that’s just what happened.

Sometimes Karen was backed only by Evan’s bass or D’Vonne’s brushes on his drums. Sometimes it was just Karen and I in a call-and-response conversation. Sometimes it was the whole band laying a simmering foundation. But every time the results exceeded my expectations and thrilled me to the point of laughter! To hear the band playing as only we can with Karen’s thoughts on what makes us beautiful and unique seemed the most natural thing in the world. We were moved, Karen was moved, and from the overwhelmingly enthusiastic response we received, the audience was moved as well.

But don’t take my word for it! There have been a flurry of blog posts about the event this week, each from someone’s unique perspective. Here’s the one’s I’ve found so far:

  • Darrah wrote a post about the event with her gorgeous photos here.
  • Karen has written about her whole Seattle weekend in four parts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 & Part 4.
  • Tara wrote her account on her blog, Tea and Cookies.
  • Shawna wrote a very personal account of the evening here.
  • Megan wrote her thoughts on her blog, Not Martha.
  • Jet wrote another very personal account of the show at her blog.
  • Judy had kind words for us at her blog, CoffeeJitters.

Thanks to all who came out to share this special night with us. Thanks to Karen for making the trip and being open to trying something new. And thanks to Darrah for making it all happen!

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Jet Harrington January 29, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Thank you, Jason, for the shout out. It was indeed a magical evening, and I look forward to more live jazz in my future. No More, No Less has been on pretty constant play since last Sunday. Well done!

Jason Crane | The Jazz Session January 29, 2011 at 1:54 pm

Where, good sir, are the audio files of this event? Make it so, Number One!

Twitter: 1WorkinMusician
January 29, 2011 at 2:10 pm

@Jason – editing the video as we speak (type?)!

Bill Berry January 29, 2011 at 2:18 pm

what’s really cool about this for me is seeing two people i follow via twitter and RSS get together and collaborate. wish i coulda been there!!

shawna January 30, 2011 at 9:49 pm

it was truly fantastic! i can’t wait til i can get out and see the band again. you’d better keep us updated on a karen tour. :O)

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