Every jazz fan has a personal catalog of Near-Miss bands-working units that you should have seen in action but, for one reason or another, you didn’t. I’m not talking about Duke Ellington’s Blanton-Webster band, or the Quintette du Hot Club de France; this isn’t a what-if with a time machine, though I can happily play that game all day. What I mean is the act of whiffing on a group that made its impact in your time, before fading into recent history. You had your chance, pal. You blew it.
Maybe I’m more susceptible to this feeling than most, due to my upbringing in Hawaii, well off the beaten path for even the most prominent touring acts. I was fortunate enough to catch a few, like the McCoy Tyner Trio, the Chick Corea Akoustic Band and the Branford Marsalis Quartet. But those were the exceptions, by far.