Ben Falkoff Quartet @ Schwemm’s, Amherst College

“When one thing falls thruough, another comes up” … ever heard that saying?
Or something like it?  Words to live by, or keep in mind, at least.  Let me explain:


There I was, contentedly bopping into Mi Terra in Hadley for Brutha Larry’s weekly Open Mic with John Fuller and Conga Bob, thinking that the parking lot was AWEfully full…  I mean, whaaat, like the house had suddenly got behind this thing and advertised?  But no, we all know that don’t help…  Once inside, though, it made sense: something was Goin On, and it wasn’t Larry’s Jam.  That whole side of the building was, in fact, quite empty- and you know that never happens when Mister D & Co are in the house!  So, it would seem that some group or ‘nother had seen fit to book the main dining room for their Very Special Occasion, and what with all the singing they were doing (pretty sure that’s what the sound was), it
was deemed prudent to keep the bar/cafe side free of sonic intrusions.  So no, no Larry tonight.

So… I sits me butt down for a minnit, chatting with a couple area music-types (Dan Daniels and Helmi Pucino and sundry.  This gives me my first shot of wi-fi for the day; I Ain’t Doin’ Too Bad, mind you, but the virtual roster is piled kinda high by this evening-hour of the day- I gots a lots to tend to!  Inside o’ five minutes, though, it’s over and done and I’m out the door and into my wheelie-mobile.  Y’see, somehow; I know not how and cannot begin to conceive (barely believe, as a matter o’ fact), I had at some point in the not-too-distant past, … I had SOMEhow managed to neglect an entry in my trusty SamTab calendar.  Soon’s I hit the Face-page, don’tcha know, there it is: the reminder.  Praise ye Lord, and stay below the speed limit; I’m on my way to Amherst College to catch a set by Ben Falkoff and his Quartet, which just happens to feature none other than the younger Dulong, he of similar stature and likewise darkly and muchly follicled as the elder(-ish) gent.  It’s almost like a double bill for me- exciting and cool, right? ***


Now, little did I realize, coming in to this wee little cafe of a room to the rear of Amherst College’s Student Center, that this Thursday night jazz thing is an Actual Thing- like, Ben said told me as much, but he speaks so quietly.  I did in fact remember that the Quartet was to play for an hour only, as there were other groups on the bill, so I knew to make haste at any rate (so to speak).  Immediately upon entry to the funky yellow building, I knew I’d found it.  Just by the jazz sounds emanting from the nether regions of the joint, and maybe by the quality of said sounds, it was clear that I’d hit the spot.  Even so, this was not quite what I’d come expecting.  Again, I may well have been properly and well-advised ahead of time, but what I heard as I aporoached the cafe was … well, soft.  This was soft and pleasant jazz, more or less along the lines of olde-schoole, but not by way of any easily recognizable, jazz-standard songs.  Doubly-dazzled was I then, as I found myself greeted by and treated to not only the lovely and acoustic guitar of Mr Falkoff and the stand-up bass of the young Master Dulong, when I had expected the searing fusion of a new-millenium Midnight Gypsy session (lol), but all original compositions as well.  The one ‘version’ they did, of a Police song, was so sweetly balanced between faithfulness to the melody as we all know and love it, and creativity in adventering beyond any mere transcription, that it fit right it with the rest of the material, like a piece of found poetry amid a writer’s own in a published volume.

Kinda like the time some friends and I (and the ex, too) went to see Allan Holdsworth at the Iron Horse, and with him was none other than Flim (the BB) Johnson on bass- and even drummer Gary ‘Usband (as Jack Bruce called him), though at the time, well… what did I know?

Bruce Diehls

Jimm O’D ~ The Dusty Turntable

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