Sound Check: Wilson Sung Coleman @ Massry Center for the Arts, 12/9/16
Story and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
Uber jazz pianist George Cables was scheduled to perform on Friday night with an all-star trio at the College of St. Rose’s Massry Center for the Arts, but he fell ill and had to cancel his appearance. Bandleader and sax/flute virtuoso Steve Wilson and bassist Ira Coleman had to find a replacement fast.
Luckily the exquisite pianist Helen Sung was available. Her pedigree in the jazz world was faultless. So why not go full steam ahead with the gig?
But as is the life of jazz musicians, rehearsal time was at a premium, so the few hours before the concert was the only time for Wilson and Coleman to team up with Sung and wade through the nearly two hours of jazz standards scheduled for the concert.
Once everyone arrived by mid-afternoon at the Massry Center, they all rolled up their sleeves to start work on constructing the evening’s performance for the benefit of the “new” pianist… and later the audience.
But there was a caveat. Legendary drummer and bandleader Jack DeJohnette and his trio was playing just up the road at The Egg the very same night. Would there be a sizable audience at The Massry? Noting the spike in advance ticket sales on the day of the show, Massry Center Programming Manager Salvatore Prizio was confident that there would be. And who knows how many walk-ups there would be that night?
There was one other unforeseen, but par-for-the-course at a college campus concert, injection into to afternoon’s proceedings. A group of students was slated to stop by with their professor for a Q&A with the musicians, cutting into the precious rehearsal time.
The rehearsal had both a serious veneer and a core of light-hearted gaiety by a group of friends. Smiles, laughter and a few wrinkles on the foreheads of the three musicians marked the rehearsal full of starts, stops and lots of lyrical musical chops.
Coleman glanced at Wilson, and he then looked at Sung. They simultaneously stopped playing. Rehearsal was over, and the trio of musicians – now confidently relaxed – was ready to field questions from the students assembled in the first few rows of the theater…