Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Terrific Jam Session

Another great day at TED, topped off by a really good party. I managed to have a number of really interesting conversations.

Then, on arriving back at the hotel, there was a sound system set up in the lobby and a crowd of people sitting/standing around. There was a jam session with most of the musicians from the conference, joined by a flamenco guitarist who was apparently playing in the hotel.

The session was hosted by the totally charming and completely endearing Jake Shimabukuro, who has astonished with his virtuoso ukelele playing. During his TED presentation, he'd showed off his range by playing flamenco music, Ave Maria and Bohemenian Rhapsody. I walked in as he was playing While My Guitar Gently Weeps.

He was joined by the string quartet Ethel, who has been playing musical interludes all conference with Thomas Dolby.
Then there was the incomparable Robert Gupta. At Juliard at 14, graduated from Yale at 20 and now the youngest violinist in the Los Angeles Philharmonic, he is one of the TED Fellows, who essentially win a 'scholarship' to attend TED. He delivered an amazing talk at TED University, describing his relationship as violin teacher to Nathaniel Ayers, the violinist befriended by the LA Times journalist and subject of the movie The Soloist. It was a powerfully delivered and emotionally charged talk. He has since played a couple of interludes of exquisite classical music that could make you cry. Another TED Fellow sitting beside me tonight says he is as delightful a person as he is musician.

Then, in pop two of the dancers from the dance troupe LXD (The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers) with mindblowing modern dancing. This was dancing street style and totally blow-away.

As Jake was trying to close the session down, resisting an enormous chorus of bravos and whistles and calls for 'one more', in waltzes Natalie Merchant who had magnificently closed out this afternoon's session. She delivered a lyrical and luscious version of that old World War II standard "Every time we say goodbye". That still didn't satisfy the crowd, and Jake delivered one final wonderful number, before we scattered to our rooms.

I always get to listen to musicians I'm not familiar with at TED, and see dancers I wouldn't have seen. This year was a particularly rich selection. Thomas Dolby is amazing in putting together an incredible selection of artists. But to hear them up close in a jam session in the lobby is a thrill I won't soon forget.


Dorothy Lawson said...

The evening jam sessions at TED were beautiful, powerful moments of connection for all the musicians, too - an opportunity to learn and share and let a new spirit arise between us. The "Entertainment" side of TED is as seminal as the Technology and Design!

Thank you for this wonderful account, Lib!! from Dorothy of ETHEL.

Lib Gibson said...

There's no question that the spirit of the musicians was felt by all those in the lobby.