Any pantster novelists at the traditional jazz festival this past weekend in Evergreen, Colorado, would have liked the performance at 7:15 Saturday.
Pianist Jeff Barnhart had come primarily to play solo or perform duets with his flute-playing wife, Ann. But for this hour he was asked to pull together a full ensemble.
From all the other bands with that slot open, he picked the best to play not only the front line of trombone, trumpet, and clarinet, but also the supporting rhythm section of drums, bass, and banjo.
Those choices made, most of his work was done. No rehearsal needed.
All he had to do was name each tune and its key. The performers took it from there, playing in unison for the opener, then trading off improvisational solos until the time to wrap. The notes arose spontaneously from each player's experience and personality.
I'd witnessed each perform in their own bands, but in this combination they played even more like themselves. Just the way Jeff Barnhart wanted.
Much like a novelist who assembles the characters, places them in an interesting situation, and lets them run with it.
There's nothing like an all-star cast.