MFA Dream Team, new this season to the B1 East, is made up of a bunch of guys that all work at an accounting firm (MFA) all the way up in North Andover. Thatís quite a hike just to play a little ball with some of the finest personalities on either side of the Charles. But play they do and they come with their own brand of flair and panache. This team isn’t just a two-trick pony; each member of this squad brings his own unique style to the friendly confines of CRFC. These guys remind me of some of Miles Davis’ experimentation into Fusion in the late 60’s, early 70’s, trying to fuse rock and jazz. It was rather controversial and revolutionary at the time, but no one could quite grasp the genius behind it all. At first listen, all that can be heard is a clash of different instruments that seems to just make noise, and produce irregular, ugly sounds. But if you listen closely, usually after repeated listening, you can hear the order and harmony amid the chaos.
It’s a similar experience watching the guys from MFA play on the court. At first glance, it’s kind of weird; you’re not sure if you like it, or even if you want to see it again. But after catching another game, you start to appreciate the symmetry and you can tell how it’s all starting to come together. Miles’ album, Bitches Brew, and the subsequent concerts that he opened for live (including Steve Miller Band, Santana, and Neil Young) revolutionized and created the new form of music. For those interested, “Live at the Fillmore East, It’s About That Time”(3/7/70), in which the Sextet opened for the Steve Miller Band, is the reference album for the following analogies. The fiercest recordings of Bitches Brew, one of Miles’ most popular and influential works, is contained on this album.
Josh Rose on Trumpet: The role of Miles Davis, the innovator and leader of the group is played by All-Star Rose. He is the one that keeps the music going, taking it to the next level seemingly all on his own. Having played at LaSalle, Rose is the one with experience on his side, and it shows in how his band performs. Although Milesí Sextet had other big names participating, it was always Miles who set the tone, much as it is with Rose. Heís a leader that likes to let his guys work out their problems on the court, giving little or no instruction while simply leading by example. While his demeanor may seem quiet and unassuming, heíll get in your face, just like Miles, if you mess with his team or his art.
Bill Hewson on Bass: Hewson is the bass line that keeps the group strumming along to the same beat. Without the diminutive point guard, chaos would surely ensue, as the other band members would be left to wonder, left to their own devices. On the album, Dave Holland, one of the more innovative modern bassist and composures, strums the base line on the album. Bill is helping redefine the League, just as Holland helped Miles. With one of the quickest first steps in the East, Hewson constantly gets to the hole and charity stripe, providing relief to Joshís burdens on offense. Expect to see more point guards like him emerge (see: Cuadrado, Joel) as their effectiveness is made more evident.
Bill Duratti on Percussion: Sometimes on this album, you can tell the Airto Moreira is trying to take over the session. He tends to get out of hand for a minute or two before his band leader is forced to step in and restore order. In the game, the same can be said by watching Bill Duratti play for a few possessions. Always willing to mix it up, Duratti isnít afraid to let it fly from anywhere on the perimeter but is also forced to crash the boards thanks to MFAís lack of size. Always intense, Duratti leads the teams in a number of categories, including fouls, technicals, ejections, and most times fouling out of a game.
Greg Keohan on Sax: The saxophone is universally recognized as one of the symbols of cool, and Greg has cool written all over him. The man playing sax, Wayne Shorter, always looks and acts like heís trying hard, usually because he is. Shorter never played with Miles again after this recording and left it all on stage, giving, as some would say, his best performance ever on this night. Whether it be crashing the boards or perfecting that 15 foot jump hook, Greg always leaves it all on the court while finding a way to get better every single week that heís played. For a guy that had never played organized basketball before his introduction to CRFC, heís become an integral part of his teamís success.
Jason Khalil on Drums: In the fusion era of jazz, the drums were another important part that made up Milesí Quartet (Sextet on this album). Jack DeJohnette banged the drums and cymbals here, much the same as Khalil bangs the boards night in and night out. Heís always out to hype his teammates up and lunges after rebounds with reckless abandon. Due to the birth of his third son, Khalil has missed a lot of playing time lately, but like DeJohnette, is now able to form his own Gateway Trio, comprised soley of his offspring. The starting line-up should be dangerous in about 16 years.
Craig Eaton on Piano: The piano and Chick Corea, although important to the fusion era in many ways, take a back seat to the other big names on this album. Craig, whose hustle and defense off the bench give this team a spark, is utilized in much the same way. He doesnít get a lot of air time, but when he does he takes full advantage of it. After exhausting minutes of running a one-man full court press and working to get free on the offensive end, he heads to the bench ready to contribute when called upon again. The former cross country star could go all game, and has performed well when forced into heavy action when needed.
Rob Busch, Producer: Every good band needs a producer to push the albums and get guys to sign. Rob, much like Teo Macero who both played and produced, does a bit of everything. The player/coach is a shifty lefty who always draws the other teamís center on the defensive end. The guy behind the scenes rarely gets any press, but in both these cases, the guys are influential to the success of their team/band.
MFA Dream Team, still with a chance to make the playoffs, has had quite solid first season here at CRFC. Since establishing their team identity, get the ball to Josh and Bill, they’ve performed well done the stretch. All it would take is one roster move, ideally a big man, to make this team a serious contender in the upcoming seasons. After a full season of games under their belts, theyíll be able to come to play in the winter knowing what to expect and they should be ready to compete from the first game.