Coffee is for closers

Not wearing a tinfoil hat to the gym has its consequences.

You see, they pump this, well, some might call it “godawful,” business jazz into the locker room. On first encounter, one initially recoils. Later, after a good workout, one begins to consider the merits of bizjazz: Kenny G isn’t so bad. In fact, he’s pretty darn nifty, and those other business-jazz sides are pretty snappy, too. Soon, the subliminal messages—concealed under layers of tooting soprano saxes and percolating funk bass lines—seep into the waking consciousness. Join Team Arnold. Eat more arugula. Take a mambo exercise class. First prize is a new Cadillac; second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize? You’re fired.

Once the programming is completed, one begins jonesing for smoothness in jazz; nothing else will suffice. Ergo, after a long Memorial Day weekend spent trying to hide from the likes of Firehouse Six Plus Three Insurance Agents From Walnut Creek Minus a Dentist From Lodi, we found ourselves looking for some hot bizjazz function at the conjunction junction in Sactown. Yes, we knew about the Auburn Jazzfest, but that’s next weekend; more on that later. We were looking for some smooth jazz action in the here and now, and not even KSSJ on the radio would suffice.

The week before, we had wandered into the Blue Lamp to hear some Mississippi hill-country blues. Someone told us that it would be not unlike the siren call of Kenny G’s sax, but we were rudely dismayed and shocked when opening act Paul “Wine” Jones unhinged his guitar hand and, propelled by the diabolical shuffles of drummer Cedric Burnside, proceeded to lay down a series of atavistically propulsive numbers that hit the audience’s collective solar plexus like a locomotive. Smooth jazz it was not. Boo hoo.

One more non-smooth-jazz item: Headlining this Friday’s free Downtown Partnership Concert Series show at Cesar Chavez Plaza is the venerable local roots and world-beat band Mumbo Gumbo. Now, this may or may not be of interest to you. But those of you who subscribe to the music critic’s corollary to that old saw about teachers—i.e., that those who can, play music, while those who can’t, merely slouch in the back of the room instead and later write bitterly vitriolic reviews about what they thought they heard—may be interested to note that opening the show, which begins at 5 p.m., will be longtime Sacramento Bee feature writer and music critic David Watts Barton, who, we are informed, does not play the soprano saxophone.

Can people who write about music actually play it in public? And what about maintaining journalistic integrity? Should they instead perform under ridiculous French pseudonyms? Team Scene Weasel definitely will be on hand to ponder those questions and to sing along to songs from Barton’s boffo CD, Straight. We’ll be the ones in the Hawaiian shirts. Look for us.