Thursday, September 1, 2005

Ace Hill

A few days ago I saw in the Herald a small obituary for Ace Hill, who was my favorite local jazz pianist. 

Many years ago, back in the mid '80s, we used to go listen to him and the Ace Hill Trio at the old Monterey Bay Club in what was then the Monterey Sheraton. It was the best jazz club this town ever had. It was cozy, intimate, warm and inviting. Unfortunately, when Marriott took over the hotel, they turned it into just another sports bar, I guess because its cheaper to buy a big screen TV than pay for actual talent.

One weekend a friend of ours, an accomplished musician herself who conducted a choir my wife played for, was in town for the Bach Festival. We asked her if she'd like a little jazz on top of her Bach. She replied "I won't tell anybody."

She asked Ace to play My Funny Valentine for her, and he complied. When we left she said "He sure knows his way around a piano."

Just before his breaks he would play a little tune called "Hold It," which was sort of a boogie woogie finger exercise as he credited the members of his little band. Then he'd sing a few suggestive lyrics ending with "hold it." That little bit is on his first CD. 

The last time I saw Ace Hill was at a private party a few years ago. It was in the hotel where I work as an audio/visual technician. He needed a microphone, and so I got to work with him very briefly.

His passing is a real loss to the local jazz scene.