In 1991, after living in Paris for almost a year, I returned to LA ready to find a club where musicians could relax and blow and feeling safe enough to challenge themselves musically; where they could be creative without anyone judging or giving them attitude; where anything goes and theres no right or wrong with the music they play; with an "anything goes" attitude. I found that place at Canters Kibitz Room.
I started out with just a piano player (Cal Bezemer) and I played drums. Then we added a sax/flute player (Tony Rondolone), who was with us a while. When Tony had to leave the gig, I called my long time friend and musician, Steve Solomon, who played horn and piano. It was a great exchange of musicianship with Steve playing left hand bass or soloing on horn, while Cal played keyboards and, of course, me on vocals and drums. Then Cal left the gig to play with Ima Sumac and we brought in a drummer (Victor Arno), who was with us a long time. All kinds of musicians have sat in with us over the years, including Marc Yacoubian, who became a fixture with us and has been playing tenor sax, flute, clarinet and occasionally oboe, with us for many years.
Then Victor left and we tried a few different drummers, most of whom were nuts. Finally, about 8 years ago, drummer extraordinaire, Billy Paul, joined us and weve been grooving ever since. Occasionally, I still play drums and when I do, Billy becomes a microphone stand, holding it while I sing. He even does comedy, which is an added treat. Its a real loose gig and we love it.
We had a tragedy happen on February 7, 2005: It was a Wednesday evening and we were waiting for Steve, the piano player who had been with me from almost the beginning of the gig, to arrive. He never did because he passed away. Not only waws it horribly sad, it was eery because the week before we had an especially wonderful night musically and friendship-wise. His son, Evan, who is a wonderful musician, played with us and we all had a chance to say "good night," instead of running out to our cars. We got to "hang" a while and Im grateful for that because that was it the last time we were together. Im teary-eyed thinking of it.....No one could imagine the different people weve had come in through the years.
Maybe I'll use this space every week to tell of another thing that ..happened during all our years kibitzing. The one that comes to mind now is last ..November, a gal came in and decided to disrobe in front of everyone - right inthe middle of a song. That really got the busboys running in from the restaurant. She was even running out into the street and back in again. It was ..all I could do to talk her into putting her clothes on again, and then she took off again! What a night that was. I have pictures.