Posted by: seanoldblog | 2010/08/30

1. Bateaux New York

There is a fine line with this type of gig between top shelf and tacky.  The difference is decided entirely by the people running tings.  There is a certain approach that would easily take the whole affair into the realm of “_____ Manor Haven Estate Vineyard Chateau” with the typical weekend warrior band, rumpled tuxedos, and a Tiramisu that all the taffeta clad prom-goers and bridesmaids rave about.  Typical is the thing that is mercifully missing from the Bateaux experience.

Kyleann Burtt music-directs from the piano, Karl Spicer drives the proverbial bus from behind acoustic and electric basses [also sings in English and Portugese, plays some solo guitar as people board, and plays a marvelous flute solo], and Ms. Joey Douglas has complete command of the microphone both vocally and as a charming hostess.  Kyle and Karl [we call him ‘Spice’] both sing tight and spirited backing vocals, and sometimes Kyle even takes over the night as vocalist while hiring one of NYC’s most in-demand pianists to cover her regular chair.

The guitar chair sees a rotating cast of characters, mostly from the jazz elite from what I gather.  I only occasionally have the pleasure of substituting for one of the more regular players.

What is most noteworthy about this ensemble is that they perform pretty much every night.  They do this without letting it get stale.  Figure that out.  For starters, they have filing cabinets worth of material to choose from, carefully charted arrangements, and they honor pretty much any request that could possibly come in.  There are no drums, so the rhythm becomes so internalized that the music is a palpable conversation.  The first set is without vocals and Karl is always pulling out tunes that I’ve never heard of.  Good sight reading practice anyway…

For instance, tonight we learned that there was a large party of churchgoers from Oklahoma on board.  They played it.  They really did.  An uptempo swingin’ instrumental version.  It was great fun!  Where else, and with whom could that ever happen?

These things aside, my theory is simply that they put such joy in each note that it’s hard to resist enjoying oneself as well.  I’d recommend this trip to anyone.

Oh yeah, and then there’s the view.  And the food.  Also part of why they never grow tired of it.

I only do this gig once in a great while, which is why it’s such a marvel to me.  I like to think I contribute well to the music, but I wonder if I would have the goods to keep up with their optimism night after night?  The regular position was offered to me at one point a few years ago and I respectfully declined on account of how much I would most likely have to call a substitute.  Too many other clients plus my own artistic endeavors.  It didn’t seem like it would have been fair to them.  But I sure enjoy going back for the occasional visit.

One of the highlights of the three hour boat ride is a photo-op stop by the Statue of Liberty.

But my favorite leg is under the bridges on the East Side.

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