I have just gotten home from playing a concert with the Charlottetown Jazz Ensemble tonight at the St. Peters Court House Theatre overlooking beautiful St. Peters Bay, PEI. It was a fun gig, kind of a warmup for our upcoming performance at the PEI Jazz and Blues Festival (July 6-9). We even timed our intermission to coincide with a beautiful sunset across the Bay. The Court House Theatre is pretty small; I counted seating for about 90 people (notice I said “seating for 90”, not “I counted 90 people” ;)), and it was a tight squeeze to fit our 18-piece band on the stage. Because of this, it was decided to go acoustic. Normally we would have a mic for solos, or even mics for everyone, if available, and it always ends up being REALLY LOUD. What was great about tonight is that we all had to assume the role of sound technician, and it forced us to listen, to be sensitive, and to play softly enough to ensure that the soloists would be heard. I think it made the ensemble tighter, and we definitely played with a lot more excitement than usual. An onslaught of sound (which is what one usually hears at concerts of popular music – including jazz) does create a certain degree of excitement in its own way, but it just doesn’t compare with the excitement generated by the contrast of louds and softs – a judicious use of soft dynamics makes the loud stuff that much more effective. So, tonight was inspiring because it showed us what the band is capable of achieving when freed from the tyranny of amplification. I, for one, hope that we will capitalize on our newfound freedom by continuing to go acoustic whenever possible, and see what higher levels await.