Sunday, July 26, 2009

Harry Schmitt and the Order of the Fenix

Ok, spoiler alert: this is not an entry about the New York jazz scene. But the music scene really does extend south of Canal Street, despite what the locals may sometimes believe :-) Oh, and there will be no further Harry Potter references either. I think. It's possible I've been Confunded again...being a Muggle bites, doesn't it?

Anyway, I played a really fun gig with my good friend Harry Schmitt, a great guitarist, composer and person who has has a truly unique approach to, and voice on, the guitar. Beyond his formidable skill on the instrument, Harry has a dedication to interactive playing that makes him an absolute pleasure to play with in any context...especially as a horn player, you look for "comping" instrumentalists who will simultaneously listen to you and inspire you, and Harry does both. He is going to be releasing some original material for free on Youtube in the next few weeks, and you should definitely check it out!

He booked us a gig this past Saturday night ("The Harry Schmitt/Peter Cobb Duo") at the Fenix in, yes, Phoenixville, PA. Phoenixville is an up and coming town outside of Philadelphia with a lot of cool old buildings and architecture. The Fenix itself is a martini lounge and a great spot in which to play. The evening was a lot of fun-- a chance to catch up with and old friend (we met and started playing together in 2003 as we were both Steve Giordano disciples :-)) while exploring some standards and originals...

However, one of the really interesting things that I noticed was what a difference live music makes in terms of attracting a crowd, even when they don't know the performers beforehand! The Fenix is one of about five eating/drinking establishments all in a row on Phoenixville's main street. By the time we started playing the dinner crowds had already dissipated and people were literally window-shopping for places to hang out. Four of the bars had tables, chairs and sports TV in the windows. One of them had a live jazz duo. Guess which place got picked?

It's almost amusing from a musician's perspective: even people who are not jazz fans and have no real interest in actually listening to live music want to be around it. It's a sort of contagious energy, a sense of being connected to creativity that makes people feel more alive and fuels conversations...well, it did at the Fenix, at least. As musicians we live to be connected to that energy and it's a thrill to share it with others. It's always a mystery to me why more establishments don't utilize such a powerful "marketing" tool...

...anyway, kudos to the Fenix for their foresight in that area, and a special thanks to Harry for bringing me down for the gig-- let's do it again soon, man, you sounded great and it was a blast playing!

(These videos are from another gig we did a few years back...just giving a flavor :-))


  1. LOVE that there are videos and photos up! MORE!! Give the people what they want.

  2. I'll try! Jazz musicians have not traditionally been very good at documenting themselves :-) But it's about time we all moved into the 21st century...or even more solidly into the 20th...