Tony and the Tractor

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SKF NOTE: Getting ready to go out last night I set my MP3 player to Herbie Hancock and Santana – Live Under the Sky 1981. Some of the tracks are the VSOP Quartet with Hancock (keyboards), Ron Carter (bass), Wynton Marsalis (trumpet), and Tony Williams (drums). The tracks with Carlos Santana (guitar) also add percussionists Armando Peraza, Raul Rekow, and Orestes Vilato.

I start the music playing and hop in the shower. Shower finished, I’m toweling off just as the VSOP Quartet is burning through the tune, Sorcerer. The tempo? Way upstairs. I’m listening, thinking once again, of how the rhythm section sounds of Hancock, Carter, Williams evolved from their start in the early ’60s with Miles Davis. The trio played tighter by 1981, their musical conversations non-stop, rolling on and on.

In the midst of the lickety-split, straight ahead, Sorcerer, something new grabs my attention. It sounds like Tony Williams has added rapid fire eighth notes between his floor tom and bass drum? Or was he experimenting at this concert with a double bass drum pedal?

DCltgL8XkAE1bDoI expect Tony to move on to something else, but he doesn’t. His precision, his stamina, his ability to maintain that eighth note pattern without slowing the tempo, or even missing a note — he’s like a machine!

Wait a second. Could it be? I step from the shower, moving closer to my MP3 player resting on the window sill. The window is open a bit and as I move, Tony’s eighth note drumming sound moves.

I take another step, pause, listen — and start laughing. Outside my neighbor’s Kioti KL2610 tractor engine is idling – in eighth note sync with the VSOP Quartet, precise as a click track.

What in the heck are the odds?

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