September Newsletter Two by Greg Henry Waters


Don Hahn and his Group at Fat Cat Club Thursday September 6 2007!


I ran into Don Hahn a musician of uncommon ability on the trumpet.  He has the art of the melodic trumpet solo down to perfection. I have know Don now for some 30 years since I first came to New York,  We played club dates, recordings, jazz gigs, big band gigs, show gigs doing what a New York free lance musicians have to do to get enough money to live and maybe even then it is not enough.


Well, we are all older now and doing different things with a different attitude.  Don has been doing a Thursday Night Gig at Fat Cats Club in the village.  Look for Fat Cats URL there.  You put an older musician with younger musicians of real ability and you get something special.


Don brings the basic nature of playing a tune and doing the solo thing that most jazz groups do, but what makes the difference is the tempo and attitude of the music.  You see a real musician can get the side men to play at a level of ability that takes an ordinary band into a level of music.  Everybody plays and knows music but how many musicians really play music that is pure, clear and humble.  Most musicians put their ego into the music and forget about music.  I heard this so many times that it makes me sick.  I ask myself who is playing music?  Well folks, I know when Don puts his trumpet to his lips you will hear nothing but music from his trumpet, cornet or flugelhorn.   Mario Rivera told me, “most musicians do not put in the hard work to get the job really done.”  Don has put in the time and purity to get the job done.  I hope you can take the time and go see him play in this free environment of board games, live jazz, and beer plus. 


Playing with Don was Ted Boassoon on guitar, 20 yrs old this Sept 11th - from New Orleans, Ted did a nice job playing solos and accompanying the group.  You know it takes 30 years to become a real jazz musician and Ted is still only going to be 20 in a few days. Joe Corsello (61),  sat in on drums who plays with Sunny Rollins and completely changed Ted playing.  It is amazing and interesting how one musician can contribute so much to another’s performance.  Joe you really helped Ted get his act together because after you sat down with me again Ted’s solos seem to be more organized.


Noam Massdrik on string bass, 20 from Israel was playing bass with Don.  Well, Hoam was great in that he was there all the time with a nice feel and solos.  He played a lot of bowed solos which you do not hear so much from bass players.  I know Lyn Christie loves to play bowed solos and has the classical chops to do it.  Noan did too and played effortlessly and comfortably.  This was what I liked about this group they were not trying to be stars but just trying to play good music.  So many musicians are trying to be stars and they forget about the music.


On drums was 22 yr old Keith Bolla from Texas. Keith was a very interesting drummer too and he played a completely different style than Joe Corsello.  Keith only had one cymbal which was different but it complimented his playing because he was approaching the drums from a very basic view point and keeping the rhythm as simple as possible.  But when he traded fours his solos were anything but simple.  Also after Joe Corsello sat in I noticed a different approach by Keith too.  His sound had more presents and his rhythmic feel seemed to be stronger.  You see how important it is for young musicians to perform with the more experienced ones.  Great job Keith and your contribution to the group was so important.


Yaala Balin (22 from Israel) was on vocals, usually singers get in the way of a jazz group.  But not Yaala Balin, she is a true jazz singer and has the attitude to get the musicians to respect her for her quiet voice and natural approach to the music.  Also, her feel and approach to the song was her own, all though I could hear her influences from others it wasn’t hitting you in the face like so many singers do.  I believe she will have an exciting career, since singers are so much more important in the music world than instrumentalist.  I wish this were not to be true but it is.  But Yaala did not remind me of a commercial singer she was just singing her songs in her way.  Years ago I said to myself I will never play for singers again after my Paul Anka experience, but a singer like Yaala, I believe will always be welcome in a jazz group.  I worked for Ella for two weeks and the problem with singers when they become famous is that they forget about the sidemen or the music, it becomes all about the business and not about music.  All the attention revolves around them and not the music. The business community even turned Diana Krall into a commercial machine.  Mediocrity and the business community just destroys real music so much of the time.


So if you want to see live music grow and develop please take the time to visit Don Hahn at Fat Cat Club in the Village in Manhattan on Thursday nights, where he brings a group of young talented musicians from all over the world together to develop and prosper their jazz skills.


Thanks You, Greg Henry Waters, Artist of Music, Jazz and Classical Music