May 10, 1998
The Sunday Daily News
Matinee - Sunday Music
Andrew Gillis

Bucky's break

Saxophonist stole the show at Dutch's birthday

  AT SOUNDCHECK, all I could think about was hockey.  No wonder:  My harps were propped up on a discarded penalty-box doorlatch.

   History around here, it seems, is made in hockey rinks.

   Right now, I'm reviewing a painful memory of that goal Canada scored against the Czechs in Nagano.  The one that was called back, even though we goalies know, those ones count.  I've let in a few myself.  Meaning, several.

   You never had to convince the Dutch Mason Blues band hockey is important.  Last Saturday night's crowd at the Metro Centre for the Dutchy birthday bash heard how the Prime Minister of the Blues - and his party caucus - once missed a second set in Richibuctou in favor of watching a Habs game on TV.

   Likely, just because they hated the Habs so much.

   Topping the bill Saturday was that unusual musical achievement - the Dutch Mason Semitone Quaiver. You know the one:  "I'm a pawnbroker / Whaddayou want on your ri-i-ing?"  That one, right when Dutchy raises the pitch, in the middle of the last word.

   I realized again Dutchy is a rare commodity, with his own style trademarks, the sort that shape the blues or jazz sound of a whole region.  A career R and B musician with a style as well-established as that of Charlie Musselwhite - whom he sounds a lot like - or Delbert McClinton.

   But halfway through the birthday bash came the highlight of all the bands who paid tribute to the Right-Some Honorable Mr. Mason.

   And it's on CBC digital tape.  It's the full-tilt blues solo by Charles "Bucky" Adams, also 60 years of age.

   Here's the scene: about eleven o'clock, Bucky takes over from son Anthony at the frontman's spot.  Behind Bucky, pinning down the backbeat, is that blue-dad and new-dad, Carter Chaplin.  (Chaplin's daughter, now 10 days old, is Jade Roseanne.)

   Bucky then launches three minutes of the toughest tenor sax, in the honking mode created by Illinois Jacquet and Arnett Cobb, that I've ever heard.  It's so great, I start to laugh out loud.  Story of my life, though - when it's over, no one claps, or even seems to notice.

   Maybe Bucky's delivery, just strolling the stage, is a little too casual to draw attention.  But, like much of the evening's music, it's world-class.

   Or even, "world-class dismissed," since there are so few musicians who can play this way.  Gather them from all over North America, and you could pick 'em up at the airport in a minivan.

   Yes, there is a CD pick this week - Dutch Mason's live-from-the-vaults disc, mixed by the renowned Scrapper, whose work once boggled minds for Soma and Ram.  And also: Bucky's next disc, due in the summer, and with the hip title, Fresh Daily.

   For now: examine the CBC tape when it airs for Bucky's up-tempo - and I think untitled - shuffle tune.  As each verse comes to an end, Bucky plays a lick that makes you want to hear more.  These are called "turnarounds."

   Bucky lays down about a half-dozen of these, and each one is a beauty.

   Like a goal at the end of a period.   And those gems can do magic for a team.  Just don't ask me how I know.