Friday, June 30, 2017

Brothers In Arms

On March 6, my longtime friend and backcountry accomplice Kelly Tjaden left the planet on his own terms at age 64, not from a deadly encounter with an orca or a polar bear as I may have envisioned, but to a more formidable beast -- depression. A celebration of Kelly’s life was held June 24 at Alki Beach in Seattle.

Meeting at Lake Wenatchee as USFS wilderness rangers, we became friends for life. An adventurer extraordinaire, Kelly was a crackerjack mountaineer, skillful skier, prolific paddler and extreme bicyclist. He was known for his incendiary energy, engaging personality, wild spirit, keen intelligence, and loving kindness.

His spirit attracted many friends, all unique solar systems in a veritable galaxy of friendships. We are all very thankful we even had the opportunity -- nay, privilege -- to bask in his presence. Because of the abundance of material available, this will be the first in a series on the life and times of Keldon Jon Tjaden.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Violin Virtuoso

After tracking his career for over 40 years, we finally saw Jean-Luc Ponty, a classically trained violinist who turned to jazz in the 1960s, at The Shedd in Eugene. My first exposure to the talented Frenchman came when he recorded and performed with John McLaughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra and Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention.

Ponty, a pioneer and undisputed master of the violin in both jazz and rock, is widely regarded as an innovator who has applied his unique vision, expanding the vocabulary of modern music. In 1975, he founded his own band, selling millions of albums that all reached the top of the charts in the U.S.

With front row seats, we were up close and personal with his band, a quintet consisting of keyboards, guitar, bass and drums. The show featured a straight set -- including a memorable drum solo -- followed by an encore, and Ponty and his band delivered the goods over the course of the two-hour show. C’est magnifique!