Veggie Bliss with a Side of Jazzy Friends

I whirled through Wednesday like the gusty winds whipping through the Midwest the past few days.  The minute I dropped off my last rider, I rushed home, ran in the house, snatched some cash from Terry, switched van keys for car keys and flew back to the Plaza (where I had just spent eight or nine hours working).  I spent less than five minutes in the house, only having time to pet Roxy and Apollo once each and peck Terry on the cheek (as I fleeced him out of a twenty dollar bill).

When Marge retired in late January, we agreed to reconnect on the first Wednesday of March.  We met at the Eden Alley Cafe in the basement of the Unity Temple on the Plaza for dinner, immediately followed by the monthly ‘Spirituality and All That Jazz‘ concert hosted by Tim Whitmer.  I touched base with Marge late on Tuesday to confirm and agreed to meet at a quarter to six.  I should have said I’d be there by six, not before, as I barely made it back from Lansing in thirty minutes (a record for me actually).

Veggie Burger (vegan) made with carrots, celery, yellow onions, tofu, vegetable oil, soy sauce and bread crumbs, served atop a locally made whole wheat bun with dijon mustard, spicy vegan aioli, dill pickles, red onions, greens and a tomato.

We were seated almost immediately.  I had to spend some time reviewing the menu, since it had been over two years (probably close to three years) since I’d last been to Eden Alley.  I decided to try their veggie burger and for once I did NOT ask for anything to be left off (since cheese was not automatically part of the dish) with a side of Garlic Bread.  Marge and Bill ordered the same dish, the Spinach and Mushroom Meatloaf.  We snacked on various types of freshly baked breads, all of which tasted fabulous.  Our food arrived quite quickly and I devoured the delicious veggie burger, but decided not to finish the garlic bread.  I’ve had that side before and I should have remembered that I don’t care for the aoili.  None of us had room for dessert so we paid our tabs, tipped the waitor and headed upstairs for the concert.

We soon learned that the scheduled special guest for the evening, vocalist Monique Danielle, would not be performing.  Tim did not enlighten us until after the first set who had agreed to step in at the absolute last minute as a replacement.

The ‘usual suspects’ appeared on stage a few minutes past seven o’clock –  Tim Whitmer at the piano, bassist James Albright, percussionist Jurgen Welge and saxophonist and flutist Jim Mair.

Spirituality and All That Jazz
Tim Whitmer at the piano, James Albright on bass, Jurgin Welge on drums and Jim Mair on sax and flute.

First set:

I heard some incredibly stunning soprano sax solos by Jim Mair during that first set.  Just mind boggling.

During the brief pause between sets, Tim let the cat out of the bag with respect to Monique’s illness.  He got quite a few laughs when he started soliciting the audience for vocal volunteers.  After a few minutes, one woman came forward, answering the jazz altar call and blessed us with her voice – the incomparable Millie Edwards.

Millie Edwards
Millie Edwards

Second set (with very special guest Millie Edwards):

I love listening to Millie sing.  And, surprising to me anyway, her vocal range matches my own voice almost perfectly.  I had to really resist the urge to start singing along with her, since I so rarely get the chance to sing in that range (I am no soprano and never want to be one).  Her last two songs were just plain fun.

Between songs, Millie shared with us the story of how Tim wrangled her into performing last night.  That afternoon she had received an e-mail from Tim with the subject ‘Favor’ and soon discovered the nature of the favor Tim asked of her.  Her students became the real beneficiaries as she had to postpone grading papers and a pop-quiz the next day.  Millie imparted to Tim the heartfelt gratitude of her students for sparing them from the test gauntlet, at least for a day.

After the concert, I said goodbye to Marge and Bill and headed back home (for the second time in that day).  I flipped through my radio presets and caught the last song of the classic music program on KANU – one I actually recognized – a piano arrangement of ‘Pictures at an Exhibition.’  As I exited I-70 and headed north on K-7/US-73, I caught the beginning of Piano Jazz on KPR.

I attempted to call my daughter but as usually happens, I got her voice-mail.  So for the second time that day, I called her boyfriend, Nic, who promptly answered his phone (as he always does).  We exchanged pleasantries and I asked if he happened to be near my daughter.  Unfortunately, she was at a rehearsal (which explained why she didn’t answer her phone).  Nic realized Rachelle had forgotten to tell me she finally got a church gig.  She is now an Alto II section lead in the Chancel Choir at First UMC of Plano.  I think I need to take an extra trip to North Texas next month for Easter services.

I had a great time catching up with Marge (and Bill) and listening to lovely live jazz music in a relaxed and smoke-free environment.  Marge and I agreed to return for the May concert which features the KCKCC jazz ensembles (of which my daughter is an alum).  I look forward to seeing how the jazz program at KCKCC has progressed in the three years since Rachelle graduated.

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