Rhoda Scott - Hotel Schweizerhof, St. Moritz, 5. November 2010
Saw Rhoda Scott live last night - at a semi-private concert in St. Moritz (almost 7 hours train to and fro, and a night at the hotel... but then I was gladly invited for dinner and drinks after that...)
Wow! Holy shit! Nothing beats the physical impact of a hammond organ - well, a full big band might do so, but I've not yet experienced a fully blasting big band... anyway, Rhoda full blast, with two Leslies in a pretty small venue, in front of an audience probably not as jazz experienced as the ones she usually caters to... she added some "hits" to the setlist, such as "New York, New York" (but my fears of it ending up corny were blasted away within a couple of choruses!) and "In the Mood", but she also had some staples in there, like "Summertime", "Bye Bye Blackbird" and "Walkin'". Great, GREAT concert, one set of I guess somewhat more than an hour. It really did shake me to the bones! And by the end she had me screaming after each tune (that rarely happens...)
She was accompanied by a 25 year old french drummer by name of Thomas Derouineau - he did some nice tricks with time now and then and played some fine solos, too.
After the concert I went to chat with her, tell her how much it meant to me to see her live - she's a legend and besides Dr. Lonnie Smith I had no chance to ever capture any of the real hammond greats and alas, there aren't many left. She was most charming ... put on a dedication onto the booklet of a CD of hers that I especially brought with me ... and sent her lovely daughter (traveling with her as her manager) up to the hotel room to give me the recent Lady Quartet CD as a gift (I've just played it now - very nice!). Funny enough, yesterday an hour before I had to leave and catch my train, the latest of her CDs just arrived, "Beyond the Sea". Playing that one right now - mighty good stuff, too!
Anyway, so we kept chatting, she obviously enjoyed meeting a fan there (first question was: "do you play the organ?"... and ten minutes later when her daughter joined us, she also asked first thing: "do you play the organ?" Hell no, but I love it!)
Anyway, turned out they were also going for dinner at the next place, so we went over there together I spent the next three hours in conversation with Rhoda Scott, drummer Thomas Derouineau and Rhoda's daughter. Truly an unforgettable night!
She had some stories about her playing with just about anyone I could think of and asked her about, be it French musicians or Americans... told me Joe Thomas, her sax player in the early 60s, mostly stopped playing after she'd gone to France (but in 1971 of course, she brought him over for the great "Live at the Olympia" album, now part of the Jazz in Paris series). She also mentioned Gene Ludwig, how he was the only white guy to whose gigs ALL the other organ players went... and then she told the most touching story about Johnny Griffin, with whom she must have played many, many times in France and elsewhere. The final gig of his, they had a second sax player there, and usually Griffin would just play some tunes, then sit down and relax and then return again - but that night, he just kept playing and playing, on all the tunes. As if he felt it would be the last time... hearing this almost made me cry and does so while I'm typing it again - Griff truly has a special place in my heart. And Rhoda Scott has, as well!
Rhoda Scott rules!