GF3 with CSG
To the right is a picture of me and Cathy Segal Garcia performing at a venue in the Valley sometime last year. I didn’t even know anyone was taking photos that day. Thanks, Google Image. It was a classic CSG event, where she manages to bring together musicians who might never see on the same stage otherwise. In this case it was me and Ryan McGillicuddy on bass and Ryan Doyle on drums, backing up Cathy, trombone vitruoso Bob McChesney, and flute and singing legend Sam Most. The unusual parings are intentional. Cathy knows so many musicians and other artists and is always looking for ways to bring people together.
I can’t even remember when I first met Cathy, but I feel like I’ve known her for a long time, mostly as a colleague at CalState LA, where I would accompany her voice students. It was there watching her teach where I got to know her musicianship, her adventurous artistic spirit, her mastery of vocal technique, but most of all I got to know her giant heart, how she really loved and cared for all her students and treated them with such respect and encouragement no matter how good (or bad) they were.
We have had a number of performances together, a few faculty recitals, a few times in her house band for the jam session she used to host, and some gigs around town, including one at the Left Coast Wine Bar where a smiling young man named Joon Lee sat in on a djembe. Joon, as many of you know, went on to become the founder of the Blue Whale, perhaps the best jazz club in Los Angeles at this moment.
Recently I played with both Joon and Cathy at the beautiful Alva’s Showroom in San Pedro, and it occured to me that it is no accident that Joon has received universal praise for his openess to all kinds of music and for the unwavering respect he has for the musicians who play at his place. The fact of the matter is that Joon was a student of Cathy’s for many years, gleaning not only much of her vocal expertise but also how to become an artist and a jazz musician, and how to interact with other jazz musicians. I believe Cathy was instrumental in shaping Joon’s outlook on the musicians’ community, and without Cathy Segal Garcia, we might not have had Joon Lee and all he has done for us.
I’m thrilled that she has invited me and my trio to play with her for a few gigs next week. We have a 90-minute set at The Joint this Sunday, where we will be preceding the Ron McCurdy Collective, an interesting group featuring Ron and some outstanding vocalists. Next Saturday we will be at the club of Cathy’s protogè, the Blue Whale, where we will be joined by famous poet Michael C. Ford, in yet another interesting CSG paring. Mr. Ford has performed with, among others, the Doors in their heyday, so I’ll have to bone up on my Ray Manzarek licks. Check out his wikipedia entry, it’s pretty cool.