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Bowlive V: Night VII – Soulive w/ Marco Benevento, Sonya Kitchell, Roosevelt Collier, Felix Pastorius, Oteil & Kofi Burbridge, and Brandon Niederauer @ The Brooklyn Bowl (03.21.14)

Sonya Kitchell Set
Hurricane
Dust
Broken Heart
Follow Me In
Catapult
Mexico
Family
This Feeling
At First

The seventh night of Bowlive V at the Brooklyn Bowl started off on a more mellow vibe than the previous night openers. Bowlive V has produced rocking sets by The London Souls and Leroy Justice and the wonderful, jazzy Alan Evans Trio but now it was time for a chick flick of musical sorts.

Sonya Kitchell made her Bowlive debut with Jesske Hume on bass, Nate Wood on guitar and the amazing Neal Evans on drums and keyboards. Neal Evans on drums, you say? Yes, drums! When Neal is not playing with Lettuce or Soulive, he holds down the drums for Sonya Kitchell.

“I had a blast rocking the drums last night. Drums were actually my first instrument” ~ Neal Evans

Both Soulive and Sonya Kitchell were signed under Velour Music Group for a while but both have since graduated to new management. This explains their affiliation but there was a larger reason behind choosing Kitchell to open for the last night of Bowlive. Kitchell’s musical resume is filled with gems but she is most noted for touring with Herbie Hancock in 2008 after she helped him on his record River: The Joni Letters.

Neal Evans by Mark Dershowitz

Neal Evans with Sonya Kitchell by Mark Dershowitz

Sonya Kitchell Setlist

Sonya Kitchell Setlist

This set was was a defining characteristic of a Bowlive Residency. Was it what everyone wanted? I don’t think. Was it it as jamming as it could have been for a Friday night opener? Not really. However, Soulive enjoys changing up the game, introducing us to their favorite artists, mixing up the genres and giving exposure to the music world in whatever way they can. And please, do not get me wrong, Sonya Kitchell is a beautiful songstress and writer. I remember hearing Kitchell on Pandora about seven years ago singing “Let Me Go,” off her Words Came Back To Me album which was released on my 26th birthday. I bought it the next day. However, I am a lyric-loving female and the audience was filling up with dude after dude.

Kitchell’s band, was dressed all in white, definitely an artistic expression. White, almost as pure as her sweet, hopeful voice. Her set consisted completely of new tunes, some off the new, yet-to-be-released album, some even newer and some not recorded yet.  There was a nice treat when Marco Benevento came out and played piano for her tune, “Family,” a beautiful melodic tune. “This Feeling” was truly felt with Sonya Kitchell‘s effervescent vocals, Marco’s twinkling keys and Alan Evan’s consistent drumming.

Overall, Sonya Kitchell is a silent but deadly rager. A little grungy, a little edgy, a lot of sex appeal and her high registry and ethereal voice was captivating. She is soft, yet intense and today, she continues to impress the underground music community stretching those high notes and flipping between genres with every song.

Set I
Shaheed
Swamp
Brother Soul
Reverb
Aladdin
3rd Stone From The Sun –> Lenny
Manic Depression
Stratus

The intensely dedicated members of Soulive, drummer Alan Evans, keyboardist Neal Evans and guitarist Eric Krasno, stomped out an audience favorite, “Shaheed,” to open the first set. It was Friday night at the Brooklyn Bowl and if anyone knew what that meant, it was this trio. They brought the fire. The “Swamp” brought out the Shady Horns and there was just some gnarly, funky, connected vibing happening on stage. It got so deep that Alan Evans, for the second time this week, broke his snare drum.

“No snare drum can contain Alan Evans.” ~ G.F

“Brother Soul” showcased saxophonist Ryan Zoidis, who got a jumping ovation because everyone was already standing and as his solo peaked the crowd could be seen jumping in rhythm to his playing. This was a “GROOVER,” as John Scofield would say. Light Technician Victor Cornette supported the music wonderfully with his light work, uplifting the audience that much more. Next on deck was “Reverb” into “Aladdin.” Sonya Kitchell was on vocals in line with the Shady Horns while Neal musically defined the namesake of the song.

“Reverb is created when a sound is produced in an enclosed space causing a large number of echoes to build up and then slowly decay as the sound is absorbed by the walls and air” ~ Dictionary.com

Jimi Hendrix’s “3rd Stone from the Sun” and Stevie Ray Vaughn’s “Lenny” was next and The Shady Horns exited the stage. This is always an epic pairing of tunes but when you add in a child guitar prodigy, who only turned 11 last week, things get nuts. The amazing Brandon “TAZ” Niederauer made a big name for himself on Jam Cruise this year. Here it was now that this virtuoso guitar player I had heard so much about was going to show off his skills next to one of the best guitarists in the world.

“Everyone pulled out the Fire for night 7. Taz. Wow. Alan and Neal said it perfectly. Music starts in schools and our support needs to go there. Taz is a prime example of pure unadulterated raw talent. Was really humbling to hear him play and shed his soul on all of us. Can’t wait to say “I heard him play when he was 11″ to my kids one day.” ~ A.L. 

“My friend Dan said about Taz – “he’s not just playing he is feeling it. He’s just got it” ~ K.G.

“The crowd on the back half of the dance floor all turned to the screen to watch when Taz started playing!” – R. L.

When they broke into Hendrix’s “Manic Depression,” it was slow going but then Taz just took it away. Krasno gestured to the sound guy to turn Taz’s sound up. Measure after measure, Taz just built and built upon himself, delivering his solo so intensely, yet wearing such a stoic expression. Not even a little smile. Totally in his head. Everyone’s jaws were on the ground and there were moments when the audience was just screaming in shock and awe. Taz sounds and acts like a seasoned veteran of the stage and watching him grow up musically is going to be a wonderful experience so keep your eyes peeled.

“This is why we need instruments in school y’all.” ~ Alan Evans passionately spoke into the microphone.

1960's photo of John Scofield working with Jaco Pastorius

1960’s photo of John Scofield working with Jaco Pastorius

Alan Evans called out for “Felix” and shouts, “Where’s Marco?” The unannounced bassist Felix Pastorius was introduced by Alan and special guest Marco Benevento joined the stage. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better Felix Pastorius shows up to play some cranking bass for us. Felix is a fantastic musician in his own right but it would be foolish not to mention that he is the son of the late virtuoso jazz fusion bass player from Weather Report, Jaco Pastorius. Many members of the audience could be heard talking about the excitement of seeing Jaco’s son play at Bowlive.  Felix did not disappoint adding a groovy jazzy bass sound to the Soulive mix.

The Shady Horns were back. The set-list listed Jaco’s soulful “The Chicken” next but they nixed that and went into Billy Cobham‘s “Stratus” instead.  Both songs are famous jazz fusion standards but only one made the cut for what turned out to be a psychedelic mash-up of musicians, literally the definition of fusion.

“This was my favorite song of the entire run” ~ T.P.S

Set II
Jesus Children of America/Stay
The Dump
The “In Crowd”
Revolution
Benny and the Jets
When My Guitar Gently Weeps
Soulful Strut
The Ocean
She’s S0 Heavy

Alan Evans handled the vocals for the Stevie Wonder cover, “Jesus Children of America,” while his feel-good drumming kept the beat.  “The Dump” is actually a Lettuce tune off their first album, Outta Here, which really brought the crowd up. However, it was when Marco Benevento came out for “The ‘In’ Crowd,” a song composed in 1964 largely for pianos and horns, when the stage might as well have caught on fire from the heat. Marco laid down a beautiful melody of keys while each member of the horn section soloed starting with James Casey, to Ryan Zoidis and then Eric Bloom. Bloom’s trumpet solo was reminiscent of Dizzy Gillespie and Casey brought it all home. At one point, Alan Evans pointed out that Marco was wearing a Soulive shirt and the crowd cheered.

“Marco has a special relationship with his piano and the audience. The bond is not to be taken lightly. His sensitive side is what makes him talk to the piano and relate to the audience.” ~ H.H

Miami’s acclaimed pedal steel guitarist, Roosevelt Collier from The Lee Boys, was the next guest for the evening.  He began by to sitting in on The Beatles’ “Revolution.” It was a special treat for Bowlive fans to see this uniquely talented musician play his equally unique instrument, the lap steel guitar.  The Bowl shrieked with the lovely sounds echoing from Rosie’s instrument. Collier was also in town for an Allman Brothers Band after-party gig at B.B. Kings Blues Club in Times Square the following night.  There was wonderful playfulness between Neal Evans and Collier. Marco was in his own world crushing so hard. It’s quite possible that Marco gets better with every note he plays. Roosevelt added a fantastic layer of sound with his lap steel-guitar as he and Krasno battled it out in a full on jam session for the ages. Pure hot-sauce.

Soulive added another piece of musical history to the Bowlive run when, with Roosevelt Collier and Marco Benevento’s help, they jammed out their first ever Elton John tune in Bowlive history: “Benny and The Jets!” What a crowd pleaser. Sonya Kitchell was back on vocals, in line with the Shady Horns and then Marco got up from his rig and dangled the microphone over the heads of those in the front row. “Just these guys!” said Marco and the audience joined in on the biggest sing-a-long of the run. The funny man continued to swing the microphone around heads before going back to his keyboards to have a duel with Collier.

The magic continued with “My Guitar Gently Weeps” and “Soulful Strut.” What more is there to say that I haven’t already said. Classic after classic, this group of musicians, all seasoned jamming artists, continued to slay the audience with solo after solo. Jam after jam. Collier and Krasno continued to duel it out on the strings while the Evans brothers held down the rhythm so tightly. Audience members had their hands extended towards the sky as if they were worshiping to their gods. Their Gods of Rock!

For the next tune, it was fun to see Marco opened it up with the famous John Bonham count-in, “We’ve done four already but now we’re steady and then they went: One, Two, Three, Four.” BOOM!!!! The audience was immediately washed away by a rousing rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “The Ocean.” It’s particularly nice to hear this tune performed during Bowlive with Marco because Led Zeppelin doesn’t have a keyboardist in their band, making this arrangement unique.

Encore I
I Want You (She’s So Heavy)

The set was supposed to end there but it was Friday night and Soulive was on fire. So, they pulled out Encore #1 with Beatles’ tune, “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).” Ironically, on this day in 1984, part of Central Park in New York was renamed Strawberry Fields in honor of John Lennon.

Encore II
So Live!
Cash’s Dream
Nubian Lady

The stage empties for about 60 seconds. At that point, Alan Evans is back on the microphone stating, “We were going to end the set but we have some more surprises y’all, all the way from the Beacon Theatre, Oteil and Kofi Burbridge.” Eric Krasno leans into the microphone with a huge grin and says, “Burbridge Brothers in the building!” Oteil Burbridge has been the bassist for The Allman Brother’s Band since 1997 and his brother, Kofi, has been playing flute and keys for many bands on the jam scene for years as well.  Hearing Kofi’s flute in the mix of “So Live!,” “Cash’s Dream,” and “Nubian Lady” was stunning. He fluttered through the songs, bouncing back and forth between the piano and his flute, both instruments he dominates.

Photo Courtesy of Mark Dershowitz

Photo Courtesy of Mark Dershowitz

During “Cash’s Dream,” the Shady Horns joined the stage while Oteil Burbridge really let it rip on his bass. Oteil guided the song to a really spacey place. Victor Cornette used the lights to enhance the mood and there it was, the pinnacle of the evening with Ryan Zoidis adding effects to his horn, bringing it that much higher. In the end, it was just one epic extended solo, each musicians playing off each other and feeling the family vibe super hard. People were jumping on their feet with both hands in the air. Just a full on Jam Session between friends and as we danced with our own friends in the audience, it was a great way to end a Friday night.  Thank you Soulive, Roosevelt, Marco, Oteil, Kofi, Sonya and all the amazing musicians that made last night another night for the books.

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Tonight, the last night of Bowlive V, you will get an array of surprise musicians playing a laundry list of amazing songs. That is just how it goes down on the finale night of a Bowlive run. 

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List of Special Guests and Openers

THURSDAY, MARCH 13 – Special Guests: NIGEL HALL, EDDIE ROBERTS, more TBA

FRIDAY, MARCH 14 – Special Guests: GEORGE PORTER JR. and SPECIAL GUESTS TBA
Opener: LEROY JUSTICE

SATURDAY, MARCH 15 – Special Guests: GEORGE PORTER JR. feat. a special #LONDONSOULIVE joint set
Opener: THE LONDON SOULS

TUESDAY, MARCH 18 – Special Guest: JOHN SCOFIELD
Opener and Special Guest: JON CLEARY

WEDNESAY, MARCH 19 – Special Guests: JOE RUSSO and SUSAN TEDESCHI
Opener & Special Guest: JON CLEARY

THURSDAY, MARCH 20 – Special Guest: DMC (of RUN DMC)
Opener: ALAN EVANS TRIO

FRIDAY, MARCH 21 – Special Guests: MARCO BENEVENTO, ROOSEVELT COLLIER, OTEIL and KOFI BURBRIDGE, FELIX PASTORIUS, and BRANDON NIEDERAUER
Opener: SONYA KITCHELL

SATURDAY, MARCH 22 – Special Guest: BILL EVANS,
Opener: WOLF! Featuring Scott Metzger

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It was pouring rain all day.  Working for the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, my office is situated near the Special Events office whose phones were ringing off the hook from patrons wondering if the evening’s New York Philharmonic perfromance had been canceled.  “We are on the phone with the National Weather Service but it won’t be called until the last minute.”

Having been raised on Broadway, Jazz, and Classical music, I fall into these events easily and willingly. Tonight we were getting a wonderful treat in the history of music and the New York Philharmonic (NYP).  Branford Marsalis, a Louisiana saxophonist, would be making his New York Philharmonic debut.  Seriously, this was a ridiculous treat.

The happenings behind NY Phil stage...

The happenings behind NY Phil stage...

Loving my Parkie perks, we entered in through the back of the stage area.  It’s fun to see the happenings behind the stage before the performances. Musicians are stuffing their faces with food, sipping on drinks and mingling while they mess with their instruments.

View of side stage...walking in

View of side stage...walking in

My tribe of 14 had dwindled to 7 as the rainy day progressed.  Honestly, I had my own doubts on how the night would turn out but I was trying to stay positive. However, just like the previous night, the rain stopped around 3pm and the 55-acre center of Central Park, called The Great Lawn, was littered with people who knew a little water was worth what we might get to experience.

Our seats...with view of Great Lawn behind

Our seats...with view of Great Lawn behind

Parkies get wonderful accommodations for Central Park performances.  Where as all other patrons in the park must get there insanely early to beat the 30,000 other people expected to occupy the lawn that night, Parkies get special seating in chairs while the New York Phil guests get even closer seats.  We also get the option of having  plenty of space to lay out blankets and have a picnic style lounge for the evening.  There were so many free seats that we took over an edge of seats and placed the blanket along side. A few laid down on the grass while the rest of us utilized the seats.

View from our seats of Stage

View from our seats of Stage

A long time New Yorker and my guest for that evening explained to me how in the past he would arrived early in the morning and leaves his blankets and bikes in the spot he wanted to reserve only to come back hours later to occupy his spot.  Apparently, no one ever messed with his belongings. I am glad I didn’t have to take those kind of risks.  My advice is to do just that if you do not have an “in” for these performances.

Where there is normally 61,000 there was only 20,000

Where there is normally 30,000 there was only 11,000

Right before the show began, a NYP staff member came around to the Parks attendees and told us that the they would love for us to move forward to use their seating as so many people had not shown. We decided we were close enough and didn’t move.

Check out this video of the musicians preparing for a night of gorgeous music!

The concert was conducted by Andrey Boreyko, a Russian conductor, and featured the following pieces:

Anatoly Lyadov‘s “Baba-Yaga”

Alexander Glazunov‘s “Concerto for Alto Saxophone”

Erwin Schuhoff‘s “Hot Sonate for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra”

Selections from Sergei Profokiev‘s Romeo & Juliet

Encore: Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Medley

I am not going to break this night up by song.  I totally just sat back and enjoyed myself choosing only to recall whatever ends up in this article.  When it comes to Classical music, I just want to sink into it.  I don’t want to think about writing or taking pictures.  In fact, I don’t think I took a single picture with my camera, these are all from my Droid.

The first half of the program consisted of the first three pieces with Marsalis coming out on the second. Marsalis was spectacular, blowing his alto saxophone with technical perfection.  These songs were rather obscure and I didn’t know them.  It was nice to hear Russian interpretations though.  The only piece that wasn’t Russian was Schuhoff‘s.

Walked into the Park for a nice set break :)

Walked into the Park for a nice set break 🙂

My good friend, and constant Philharmonic companion, James M., made a nice little video recap of the evening.  The classical music starts somewhere in the middle and the fireworks display is great! (He had a rough time getting the music to play on other outlets so enjoy Alicia Keys dubbed over for a bit in the beginning!)

The ambiance alone is worth going.    There was gorgeous music with a backdrop of a gorgeous skyline while sitting on a lush green carpet of grass. We had wines, cheeses, dips, conversation, fireworks, seats if our backs hurt or it got wet.  The sound is incredible.  If you are seated in the back of the Lawn then you had screens to see the performance.  Just the entire event, from start to end, with all its little elements really makes it a stand out summer performance from a music festival or a show held indoors.   I am constantly looking forward to it coming around every summer.

Brandford Marsali's NYPhil Debut :)

Brandford Marsali's NY Phil Debut 🙂

During this entire time, we had been experiencing a lovely vibe.  There were couples around us laying on blankets, snuggling.  In the middle of a particularly quiet moment in the music, we hear this ripping blast from the guy on the blanket to our right.  I don’t think I can emphasize the power it took for all of us to not bust a gut laughing.  He immediately sat up and tried to mask it with a cough while I almost choked.  Angie, who was closest, didn’t know  what to do with herself.  I mean, just hilarious.  The guys were not as good at hiding their giggles.   A lovely classy moment brought back to our gross reality.

Brandford Marsali's NYPhil Debut :)

Brandford Marsali's NYPhil Debut 🙂

The encore was not mentioned in the pamphlet but I recognized the music almost immediately.  They performed a medley of songs from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, which draws as much from Tchaikovsky’s ballet.  It was gorgeous and gave us another 20 minutes of classical music.  I always love hearing nostalgic tunes covered in interesting ways.  Classical Disney music?  Totally my thing.

Fireworks

Fireworks over CP South

They ended the night with a lovely fireworks display over the south end of the Central Park.  The display lasted over 10 minutes and solidified everyone’s smile for the evening.  All we could think about is what the people in midtown were thinking about when these explosions went off near them.

As always, my tribe was one of the last to leave the lawn, or rather, be asked to leave. We strolled out of the park in our various directions home feeling sorry for those who had chickened out of the concert.  They missed a phenomenal night where some history was made 🙂

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Central Park's Summer Stage: Check it out!

Central Park's Summer Stage: Check it out!

When I first found out that Stanley Clarke would be performing for FREE in Central Park’s Summer Stage, I immediately thought two things.  One, I must get into that show.  Two, I knew exactly who would be my plus one.

McCoy Tyner (Photo by: Dino Perrucci)

McCoy Tyner (Photo by: Dino Perrucci)

Working for the Parks Department, our partnership with the Central Park Conservancy allows for some really nice perks regarding Summer Stage performances.  So long as they are not benefits, I am able to plop onto the guest list of any show and bring a friend.  The cost of these perks are priceless to me.  (After this article I am moving onto the New York Philharmonic in Central Park….god, I love my job!)

Once I got on the list, I immediately invited my good friend, Nigel Hall.  Nigel’s first concert as a little boy was to see Stanley Clarke with his father.  My past connections to Stanley was strictly through my love for Fusion, which Nigel also shares.  Tonight was a lovely extension of  memories for both of us.  Those kind of moments are magical and it’s lovely to build on them.

The venue was set up with chairs in the front and blocked off sections for the “VIPs.”  I was rather early and I still didn’t have the ability to snag two seats. I only got one for myself and I hoped I could grab one later for Nigel.  The commotion over people Bogarting the seats and saving 10 seats at a time for people who hadn’t showed up was rather annoying.  If I had needed a seat immediately for a friend, I would have been in that commotion. Luckily, I was alone and accommodated haha.

Return to Forever

Return to Forever

I have never hidden the fact that I have a passionate connection to Fusion Jazz.  I have mentioned it numerous times in past articles.  Specifically, the group Return To Forever.  A group that defined Fusion and showcased some of the genre’s greatest talent.  Stanley Clarke is the bass player from that group.  Having seen Chick Corea at the Blue Note a few weeks earlier and having Al di Meola in town a few days later, the players of Return To Forever were spread out all over Manhattan and I was soaking it all up little by little.

On this semi-humid, sunny evening in Central Park, the Stanley Clarke Trio, featuring Hiromi, melted my brains.  However, not before McCoy Tyner Quarter, featuring Ravi Coltrane & Esperanza Spalding, geared us up!  OH MAN!!!

Francisco Mela (Photo by: Dino Perrucci)

Francisco Mela (Photo by: Dino Perrucci)

The McCoy Tyner Quartet featured:

McCoy Tyner – Piano
Esperanza Spalding – Stand Up bass
Francisco Mela – Drums
Ravi Coltrane – Saxophone

Seriously, the McCoy’s set could and SHOULD be an article all it’s own.  However, I just wanted to sit back and relax for McCoy’s set.  I knew I would be all over the place mentally when Stanley came on stage.  So, I sat back, relaxed, didn’t take notes and just absorbed what was taking place on stage. I actually am seated directly behind the female taking the below video!

Esperanza Spalding (Photo by: Dino Perrucci)

Esperanza Spalding (Photo by: Dino Perrucci)

The talent that was mind-blowing and the sounds were so eclectic and wonderfully brought together.  You had Afro-Cuban jazz composer and drummer Francisco Mela who was superb, locking down his drum solos each and every time and providing a wonderful session of beats for this insane jazz performance to groove too.  I can’t begin to describe his energy and talent.

I had never seen Esperanza Spalding before and I just wanted to BECOME her.  Commanding the center of the stage with all these great male musicians surrounding her, with this giant upright bass between her legs, biting her lower lip as she flew over the strings…IT WAS HOT!!  And it was almost impossible for me to not focus on her completely.  At 26 years old, her fingers move with the grace of an old soul and her sound parallels that. I mean come on…

Then we had Ravi Coltrane, son of John Coltrane, ripping apart the saxophone when his time came.  And this was just the opener…

Ravi Coltrane and Esperanza Spalding (Photo by: Dino Perrucci)

Ravi Coltrane and Esperanza Spalding (Photo by: Dino Perrucci)

The opening band consisted of the second son of luminaries John and Alice Coltrane on saxophone, a bass player hand-picked by President Barack Obama to play in Oslo Hall at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, a drummer hailed as “one of the most important Cuban drummers in jazz” by Jazz Times, and the bluesy stylings of McCoy Tyner.  UNREAL!!!!  I am almost always a hater on opening bands.  But this was a real treat.  This was talent opening for talent and this is the kind of music and performance I prefer to see.  HOT DAMN!!!

INTERMISSION

And then, after all that energy had been put into us, preparing us for the INSANITY that was about to take place…we were put on hold.  There was now a change of plans.  The show had attracted such enormous response that the outside of the venue had been swarmed with people.  A gentleman got on stage and said:

“I have good news and better news. ”  The good news is that there are hundreds of people at the bottom of the hill who want to be part of this lovely evening of music.  The better news is that we are going to stop for about 20 minutes and ask that you utilize the space around you so that we can provide entrance to more viewers.”

Stanley Clarke (Photo by: Dino Perrucci)

Stanley Clarke (Photo by: Dino Perrucci)

The venue was not even closed to being packed and I was in a chair so I wasn’t to worried.  At this point, Nigel was still in transit.  He had spent the day performing on free pianos all over the city.  Sadly, he missed one hell of a opener but his performances were well worth his delay getting to the show and you should check it out by clicking the link above.

Nigel arrived in plenty of time for Stanley’s set.  Perfect timing.  Two lovely gentlemen were sitting behind us wearing their Return To Forever shirts.  Nigel took their pictures on his phone!  We spoke of the coming Al Di Meola show at Highline Ballroom the following night and they already had their tickets.  Unfortunately, I was giving free tickets away through the Tiny Rager site but was unable to make it as I was heading to Phish that weekend.

After about half an hour delay, the stage started to buzz again and we were handed 2 1/2 hours of pure Jazz.  HELLZ YEAH!!!

The Stanley Clarke Trio:

Stanley Clarke – Bass
Ruslan Sirota – Keyboards
Ronald Bruner Jr. – Drums
Featuring: Hiromi Uehara – Piano

Hiromi (Photo by: Dino Perrucci)

Hiromi (Photo by: Dino Perrucci)

Stanley started the show off with Lopsy Lou.  Hitting us right in the face with the slaps of his bass and the snare drum tapping off the beat.  A great showcase of the bass and immediately I learned who the hell this Hiromi character was and what she was all about.  Some could say rager and some ragers might say showboat. Personally, I just have my jaw on the ground.

The words I want to use to describe her actions are as plain as SHE FREAKS THE F#@K OUT!!! Her entire body was involved, her entire mind was probably in outer space or in the keys…inside the piano…it is clearly an out of body experience for her when she plays.  There are no words strong enough to describe the insanity that is Hiromi when she plays for us.  Just take a look…and this doesn’t even scratch the surface of her raging…

At only 23 year old, Ronald Bruner Jr. blows my mind.  Beginning his professional career at the age of 15 at the Theolonius Monk Institute of Jazz, he has already played with huge Jazz legends.    His diverse drumming styles could be heard throughout the performance.

And then you had Stanley Clarke. The man of the hour.  If you closed your eyes, you felt as if you were listening to Stanley Clarke from 20 years ago.  He still has it.  Boy, does he still have it.  With his electric bass in hand, the group performed Charles Mingus‘s jazz standard, Goodbye Pork Pie Hat. Hiromi once again let loose and RIPPED OPEN her solo with the power and ferocity of an attack dog.  Check it out…

Stanley moved to the stand up has for a Return To Forever song called No Mystery.  I believe this song was originally written by Chick Corea so Hiromi started off the song with her plinking keys.  Initially, there was no bass.  During this song, Stanley had some technical difficulties.  You heard people in the audience shouting that we couldn’t hear the bass.  Nigel and I picked up on it immediately and just watched Stanley handle it in his smooth nature. He sat there looking a bit frustrated but sitting calmly, smoothly, smiling at us, letting Hiromi fill in his blanks.

Stanley Clarke - Bass!

Stanley Clarke - Bass!

After some commotion on stage, Stanley throws his hands up and then we heard it.  The bass was fixed and Stanley was projected out to us once again.   Ronald Jr. wiped his face as Stanley thanked the Tech and proceeds to take his solo.  And man did he make up for those lost minutes.

While no one else was shouting or jumping out of their chair, Nigel and I proceeded to be moved by the music numerous times bringing us out of our seats and hollering like wild kids at the stage.  Sure, this was a jazz show.  We were surrounded by people who would have preferred silence and a nice seated audience but that is NOT what was going to be happening with us tonight.  This was powerful shit.  This is the stuff that made us move and you can forget the manners and civility that is supposed to come with these shows.  After the third time jumping up out of our seats Nigel shouts: “Go head Stanley.”  Man, this was such a change of pace from the FUNK.

Roland Jr

Ronald Bruner Jr. - Drums

The drums held it down while mic was changed on Stanley’s bass. Hiromi continued to rage the keys.  Nigel and I bickered over the antics Hiromi threw at us while playing.  The way that girl raged, she would most certainly  knock over that wine on the Temperpedic commercials. Nigel is from the old school of playing the keys and feel that those kind of shenanigans while playing are not necessary.  On the other hand, I felt that her playing was modern, new, fresh and would entice and energize the younger parts of the crowd who might be sitting there bored because their parents drug them to this show.

Ruslan

Ruslan Sirota - Keyboards

The next song was fast jazz with a Broadway bounce. Our real first taste of Ruslan on his Yamaha Motif.   He raged some insane fusion keyboards for a few min and Stanley cooly crushed it in the backdrop.  Such an unusual sound.

Nigel loved Ruslan so much more thne Hiromi but Ruslan truly didn’t bring the heat that Hiromi did and we both verbally voiced that wish.  We were  both out of our seats for part of his solo while the whole placed sat quietly.

Hiromi's kicks...

Hiromi's kicks...

Stanley felt it and we felt it in him.  So many faces while Stanley raged slap acoustic bass and then Ruslan FINALLY brought the heat but not moving even half as much as Hiromi.  There was absolutely no flair with this guy but he was clearly talented and GREAT!

Stanley switched to using a bow on the bass for Paradigm Shift.  A nice slow, slow start to the song.  A shifty song that bounced back and forth between chaos and sanity.  Pleasent vs wild.  Nigel points out: “He’s had that same part in his hair for 30 yrs.”  Ruslan’s legs shook so hard and Stanley plucked the bass so deep. I loved this song.  Ronald was fast and chaotic.

This song made me think of lights.  I imagined the lift show if there was one. Oh Stanley. As we watched him pluck those strings soooo very fast, we joked about how we bet his wife loves the way he plucks those strings.  The slow inclinations were impeccable.

Set list…Lopsy Lou, Goodbye Park, No Mystery, Black Narcisuss, Good Bye Pork Pie, Paradigm Shift

Our View of Stage!

Our View of Stage!

The Stanley Clarke Trio performance featuring Hiromi might just have to be one of my top 5 performances of 2010.  It is a style of music that resonates with me harder then Funk, harder then anything.  I was watching the show with someone who I knew was appreciating every single drop of sound that was coming from the stage and I loved that.  The weather had turned cool and lovely.  It was just lovely.  At the end of the performance Nigel and I just stared at each other and smiled.  What a perfect night of music.

City Parks Foundation’s Summer Stage

CareFusion Jazz Series

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