The Sanctuary Jazz Orchestra is one of Memphis’ longest-running jazz big bands in the city. Led by veteran trumpeter Johnny Yancey, the band plays a repertoire that includes works by Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Oliver Nelson and Thad Jones, as well as occasional songs from Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder or Marvin Gaye. At the Memphis Music and Heritage Festival, the band collaborated with Memphis rap artist Tune C on a version of the Allen Toussaint classic “Get Out My Life Woman.” Like the Sanctuary Jazz Orchestra at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Johnny-Yancey-And-The-Sanctuary-Jazz-Orchestra/142769415789222.
The Sanctuary Jazz Orchestra was part of the tribute to James Williams that was being held at the Bartlett Performing Arts Center, so we all met up there around 7 PM.
Not only were we playing there, but also the fine Memphis pianists Mulgrew Miller and Donald Brown, the trumpeter Bill Mobley, and the saxophonist Billy Pierce. Renardo Ward was to have been the drummer for much of the gig, but he was sick, and was replaced by James Sexton, who did a great job on probably short notice. Even though it was a mainstream jazz event, it was a sell-out, and the room was full to capacity!
Now that our company was on a four-day schedule, I had Friday off, so I called up Tune C, who didn’t have to be in to work until 4 PM, and we headed out to lunch at a new restaurant in Cordova that I had heard about, called Skimo’s. The place was at Houston Levee Road and Macon, and featured a wood-fired oven for pizzas, as well as five flat-screen TVs. I ordered a ciabatta burger, which was quite good, but the TV screens were full of the shocking stock-market crash that occurred even after Congress had passed a bailout bill. From there, we headed over to the new Cafe Eclectic on McLean across from Snowden Middle School, where I ordered a Viennese capuccino. This place features coffees, or course, but also fabulous breakfasts, burgers, gelatos and homemade desserts. Later in the afternoon, I drove over to Wellworx health club and completed my membership, and by that time, it was time for dinner. I was so impressed by Skimo’s that I suggested that my mother and I try it again for dinner, so we did, and this time I ordered a shrimp po-boy. Like the burgers, it too came on ciabatta bread, which was a little unusual, but very good. In the evening, the Sanctuary Jazz Orchestra had a rehearsal at Johnny Yancey’s house, so I drove over there, and we finished with that about 9:30 or so, getting ready for our performance Saturday at the Bartlett Performing Arts Center.