Posts Tagged ‘Esperanza Spalding’

My 1992 Sony CD Player :)

My 1992 Sony CD Player 🙂

I got my first CD player during Christmas 1995. I was 13. Up until this time, music to me had been limited to whatever I could find on the radio (which I couldn’t rewind), Disney princess movies, other fluffy movie and show soundtracks.

My grandmother had season tickets to Broadway musicals and Classical Series and so I drowned in those, willingly. That music also made up the majority of my tape collection. On the way to school I was able to hear the radio but my mother preferred country against our “harder” choices. We would bond over many of the bands from her time but I still never had what I considered true musical freedom until Christmas 1993 with the arrival of my first CD player.

Mariah Carey's Music Box Album Cover

Mariah Carey's Music Box Album Cover

I see this as a definitive moment in my musical development and the start of a major addiction. I was 15, had allowance and I needed things to spend my money on.  I would eventually join Columbia House, BMG Music (both no longer in existence as CD selling companies)and all the other companies that gave me music on the cheap.  I would scam them using multiple names, ending up with tons of CDs and not enough time to devour them all.  It was the start of my searching; searching for music that filled a hole.

I was given two CDs with my new CD player.  My parents, knowing my love for singing and pop culture, gave me Mariah Carey‘s Music Box.   My Uncle John (unsure of his motivation) gave me Simon and Garfunkel‘s Bridge Over Troubled Water.

Simon and Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water

Simon and Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water

Simon & Garfunkel

Simon & Garfunkel

I would come to memorize every one of the songs on both CDs within days.  I fell IN LOVE with Simon and Garfunkel while Mariah Carey disappeared in the back of my CD case after a few months and eventually from my memory.

I was immediately turned on emotionally and spiritually by Bridge Over Troubled Waters.  I was 13.  I struggled with anger and teenage angst and this CD connected with me on so many levels. The voices, the lyrics, the music.  A simply stunning CD. More importantly, it opened me up to a time period in music that I had missed…the 70’s. A  few months later, I would find Jerry and the musical hole within me would be filled.

There is so much to say about it but I won’t bore you with my run-on stories.  My point is that my connection with Simon and Garfunkel runs deep.  Paul Simon is sort of my Bob Dylan.  I can hear you all screaming now but it’s true.  He may not win in your books for the highest award of lyrical and/or song construction but in my book, he is #1.

The Auditorium Stravinsky stage, described in full in my Overview of Montreux Jazz Festival Post, was littered with musicians. I noticed an accordion, a xylophone, a piano, three guitars, a percussion section, one bass, two drummers, a piano and keyboard, horns, and a violin (I think).

Paul Simon’s desire to incorporate multiple multi-cultural instruments is a huge selling point for me being someone who likes to see change and diversity in her musicians.  Simon ranks up there with Bela Fleck for going out in to the world to be the hungry learner, the constant musical hunter. I find so much beauty in musicians like that. We need more musicians like that.

Paul Simon @ Montreux Jazz Festival

This would be my first time seeing Paul Simon live.  This was an epic moment  for me. I felt giddy, like a school girl (pun intended) going to see her first musical crush.  I imagined seeing Paul Simon many times in my life but I never thought the first time would be in this amazing auditorium in Switzerland.   I had to cross the world to make it happen and I couldn’t be happier.

The show was in The Auditorium Stravinsky and we were in the #3 box seats instead of #4 from the night previous. I wondered if any stars would surround me again.  Esperanza Spalding and Paul Simon had been my box neighbors just a night earlier as I watched The Miles Davis Tribute.

Tonight’s show would consist of multiples titles off Simon’s latest CD, So Beautiful or So What.   The CD is built around his acoustic guitar and as the title suggests, the songs consist of views on extremes. However, his projections find themselves somewhere in the middle. His songs lie between the worlds of love and indifference, good and evil, hope and heartbreak.  He speaks on everything from Christmas shopping to suicide bombers to Global warming.  It speaks of his nephew, who has been on multiple tours of duty to Iraq to Jay-Z and Jesus.

The Making of So Beautiful, So What

Singer-songwriter Paul Simon was listening to a box set of old American recordings one day. Among the songs, he found a Christmas sermon bearing the voice of Atlanta’s Rev. J.M. Gates, a hugely popular preacher in the 1930s and ’40s. That sermon stayed with Simon, who turned it into a song.

“It really struck me, not only because it was really an unusual way of having a Christmas sermon, because it’s very dark, it’s like a warning,” Simon tells Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep, “but also … there was a real rhythmic pulse to it … it sounded so natural. I lived with that for a while, and then I thought, ‘I could write a song called “Getting Ready for Christmas Day,” and find a way of making verses that lead up to the sermon and then follow the sermon.’ “

~ Excerpt from NPR’s interview with Paul Simon (04/12/11)

Boy in the Bubble
Dazzling Blue
Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover
So Beautiful or So What
Slip Sliding Away
Peace like a River
The Obvious Child
Only Living Boy in New York
Learn To Fall
Questions for the Angels
Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes
Sounds of Silence

Kodachrome from 1973
Here Comes the Sun
Still Crazy After All These Years
Call Me Al

Simon started his set with “Boy In The Bubble,” the opening song on his 1986 album Graceland. Simon’s lyrics deal with the complex human consequences of modern technology. Do you recall the Boy In The Bubble from the 1980s?  Ironically, this was a perfect start to a show that would continue on with songs highlighting intense issues.

Dazzling Blue” followed and was the first song performed off Simon’s latest album.  The song has a heavy African vibe; the stage was cast in a blue curtain of light with the majority of light on Simon alone.  Beginning with a talking drum from India, the audience was immediately given access to the love that Simon has for different styles and texture of sound found in various cultures around the globe.

Miles apart, though the miles can’t measure distance
Worlds apart on a rainy afternoon
But the road gets dirty and it offers no resistance
So turn your amp up and play your lonesome tune

Maybe love’s an accident, or destiny is true
But you and I were born beneath a star of dazzling blue

~ Lyrics from “Dazzling Blue”

American rock drumming initiated the beginning to “Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover,” a 1975 hit song from his album Still Crazy After All These Years.  The stage was filled with green light and Simon sang about the song’s mistress and her humorous advice to a husband on ways to end a relationship.

Fun Fact: G. Love covered the song on his album Fixin’ To Die (2011) which he recorded with the folk-rock band The Avett Brothers. ~ Thanks Wikipedia

And then Paul spoke…

“Hello my friends. I am so happy to be here.  This is my fourth or fifth time here.” ~ Paul Simon to his audience

The bluesy title track, “So Beautiful or So What,off Paul Simon’s latest album, began with two wooden bars being clapped together. The song verbalizes a lesson about life being what you make of it.

Bemoaning human frailty:

Ain’t it strange the way we’re ignorant
how we seek out bad advice
How we jigger it and figure it
mistaking value for the price
And play a game with time and love
like a pair of rolling dice.”~ Lyrics from “So Beautiful or So What”

I swear I heard a telephone ringing as part of the chorus. It was totally prevalent but I am not sure it was part of the song.  At the time, it didn’t surprise me but it made me curious. I loved this song, with its full sound and rock sensibilities.  There was a spoon on metal solo, accordion overlay, beaded shakers kept the beat and Paul showed his picking skills. One thing about Paul’s music, the sounds he conjures out of the various worldly instruments he employs in his music is what truly sets each song apart from the next.

Using his mouth in an unusual way to intro the song, Paul Simon chose another oldie, “Slip Sliding Away.” The best way I can describe these mouth sounds would be like when the drawings in the cartoons would take two coconuts to make the sound of a horse walking.  It was gorgeous…until there was an equipment malfunction.  Paul paused, tapping his fingers on his guitar until his other guitarist strapped in.  Flutes and harpsichords were being played but I couldn’t figure out who was playing the beautiful sounds. Simon accompanied the beauty with whistles and the song ended with acoustic scaling and whistling by Simon.

Peace like a River,” the 7th song of his 2nd studio album, highlighted the piano.  Paul’s voice cut right through me.  There is something so calming and soothing about his sound. The softness is romantic yet there is fierceness in his delivery that comes off as pure professionalism and eagerness to be different.

I found an eight minute video of the performance which shows nothing, but you can hear Simon on stage clearly and that is what matters:

Four drumsticks counted off as both drummers began the lead into “The Obvious Child.” This song is defined by it’s Latin-inspired rhythms and is off The Rhythm and Saints album released in 1990.  Reminiscent of a Big Band feel, we started moving in our seats.  Paul Simon knows what I like, he truly does.  Bright red lights blew up the stage as Josh was so moved he got up to dance.

Did Paul know his favorite fans were in the audience from NYC? Did he know that the NYCers who were there loved this next song? Perhaps not! But I like to think he did as he broke into “The Only Living Boy in New York.” This song touched me deeply as it was the only song sung off  Simon and Garfunkel’s 1970 release, Bridge Over Troubled Water, one of the greatest albums to ever grace this planet.

The irony was not lost on me that on the album it is Art Garfunkel who sings the song while Simon takes a secondary position in the delivery. Not this time.  Not tonight.

Bridge Over Troubled Water fun facts:

  • Fifth and final studio album by Simon & Garfunkel
  • Reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on February 28, 1970
  • Won 1971 Grammy Award for Album of the Year
  • Won 1971 Grammy award for Best Engineered Recording
  • Title track won the 1971 Grammy Award for Record of the Year
  • Title track won the 1971 Grammy Award for Song of the Year
  • Won Best International Album at the first Brit Awards in 1977
  • #51 on The Rollings Stones ‘Greatest Album of all Time’ List

The tears trickled down my cheeks freely now. It had only been a matter of time before I knew this would happen and I did think it was going to happen sooner then it did.  It took eight songs to rip into my heartstrings.  I was immediately transported back to being 12 and hearing his voice for the first time and I prayed that he would sing more songs from this album but it never happened.

Learn How To Fall” was full of horns and fierceness. It was jubilant yet with a serious message of needing to “Learn How to Fall” before you can “Learn How to Fly.”

Then perhaps my favorite song of the performance was next, a song I had never heard before. A song off the new album called “Questions for the Angels.”

On “Questions For The Angels,” a middle-aged man strolls across the Brooklyn Bridge searching for heavenly help, only to be confronted with a Jay-Z billboard for a reply.

A pilgrim on a pilgrimage
Walked across the Brooklyn Bridge
His sneakers torn
In the hour when the homeless move their cardboard blankets
And the new day is born….

…..Downtown Brooklyn
The pilgrim is passing a billboard
That catches his eye
It’s Jay-Z
He’s got a kid on each knee
He’s wearing clothes that he wants us to try

~ Lyrics from Questions for Angels

Can I just give props to Paul Simon for picking on Jay-Z?  I don’t want to condone any negative tension but I find it hilarious, although not surprising,  that Paul Simon chose these lyrics. It makes me recall the feud between NAS (who I am seeing tonight with Damien Marley) and Jay-Z.  Would this bring Jay-Z down on Simon? Will there be retaliation through lyrics? Can you imagine that going down? Now, that is some musical drama that I would be interested in seeing take place…just saying.

Speaking on religious material making it’s way into the album:

“It’s not so much that it pops out in a larger way … it’s more frequent. I really had no plan to do that,” Simon says. “They begin as stories, and where they go is just a path I follow. Sometimes spiritual or religious imagery will be part of the story. It’s seldom the point of the story, but it’s a presence that lingers.”

~ Excerpt from NPR’s interview with Paul Simon (04/12/11)

It was back to the old school, this time with songs from Simon’s most famous album, Graceland. At this point I just couldn’t take notes anymore. I had to dance this out.  Other members of the audience felt the same way as they were lifted out of their seats during the dueling drummers solos during “Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes.”  The song is a pure classic about a short relationship Paul Simon had with a diamond mine owner’s daughter, while recording in South Africa. She was very rich and privileged, yet she acted very down to earth, like a poor girl. The drummers were amazing playing off each other and I longed for a concert of just drummers.  Can you imagine? I can.

The Lady Smith Black Mombazo inspired song “Gumboots” kept the dance party going.  This song reminded me String Cheese meeting Bela Fleck.   There was picking on the guitars and a violin entered the mix.  The piano player got up and played the inside of his piano. There was such a wonderful mixture of sound and it kept us all on our feet.  It’s a beautiful song inspired by The Gumboot Dance which is an African dance that is performed by dancers wearing Wellington boots. In South Africa these boots are more commonly called gumboots.

The rest of the band joined the stage for “Kodachrome from 1973”   This song left the hall so full of sound. Great sound. My friends and I were all up dancing in our box. There was no calming us down.

There you have it 🙂 The end of the set. Exiting the stage to monstrous applause, the entire band left. The entire audience began clapping in unison without letting up.  Shortly after, Paul came out alone on his acoustic guitar.


When the notes trickled from the stage and the audience heard “Sounds of Silence,” the Auditorium went silent.  You could hear a pin drop. “Hello darkness my old friend”…and with that, the tears flowed freely again.

This was definitely the most intimate song of the night.  It tore at the heart strings, it made people smile, scream and feel something inside of them stir.  Paul’s music does that to you.  It’s such a classic song that everyone on the planet knows and is touched by it.

Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

~ Lyrics from “Sounds of Silence”

Then the audience joined in by humming the lyrics. A single man and his guitar was standing alone on one of the world’s most famous stages and had the entire placed entranced. It was magic.  It was awesome. It was music at its simplest. Music at its best.

Here Comes The Sun” was the second choice with accordions and two guitars with Simon backing the melody.  And with that, the stage emptied again.

The following video has “Sounds of Silence” into “Here Come The Sun.” Enjoy!

!!!!!!!!!! ENCORE #2 !!!!!!!!!!

Everyone walked off stage and for a few minutes the audience just chanted in unison. Paul Simon came out yet again for a second encore. There was no end in sight and that was awesome.

I took out Josh’s Iphone and video taped “Crazy Love” in it’s entirety with GREAT quality.  Enjoy!

“Still Crazy After All These Years” was next. Paul didn’t have an instrument for these songs. Just his voice.

“We’re living in a certain time, and we’re aware of it. And that’s part of what we’re aware of, along with our own personal aches and pains,” Simon says. “The dialogue between what’s going on in the world and what’s going on internally seems to be a natural thing — well, it’s natural to me, anyway, to have these thoughts.” ~ Excerpt from NPR’s interview with Paul Simon (04/12/11)

Call Me Al” ended the set.  Everyone was finally up dancing now. Dancing down below me and clapping. The flute player moved to the  keys. There was a major bass rage. Only a few seconds but so funky! You know the bass line I’m speaking of??

“One of my favorite poets is Philip Larkin,” Simon says. “Philip Larkin didn’t write for several years before his life ended. And when he was asked why he didn’t write, he said the muse deserted him. It sort of scared me. That’s why I think I have no right to assume that some thought is going to come. … But I think, in my imagination, if it is it, there will probably be something else I’m interested in.”

At 70 years old, Paul Simon shows no signs of slowing down.  He is a master of his art, with a soft, intelligent voice, that attains an unmatchable sense of melancholy and tenderness. Regarding his latest cd, anyone who can take a sermon and build an entirely new outlook on life through it by music is stellar.  I was moved  and inspired by this show and I hope that this article touches you in some way that makes you go out and purchase the new album or perhaps invest in seeing him live. Simply Phenomenal.

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Note from the Editor: You are encouraged to read The Montreux Jazz Festival posts in order as they all contain information that pours meaning into the following posts:  Click here for  My Behind The Scene Tour and Overview of The Montreux Jazz Festival **

Miles Davis Tribute @ Montreux Jazz Festival

Even though the Montreux Jazz Festival had been raging for over two weeks, The Miles Davis Tribute was the first show of the festival for Josh and I, having just arrived in Montreux, Switzerland by way of Paris, France earlier that morning.

View from looking left out to lake Geneva or Lake LeMan

View from walk to Auditorium, while walking and looking left out to Lake Geneva aka Lake LeMan

This would be a very special performance for us and other Americans who were attending because this show was not making its way to the United States.   Sad but true, which made this a very special performance for jazz heads like Josh and I.

We walked from our hotel to the gorgeous Auditorium Stravinsky, about a 15 minute walk along the gorgeous Lake Geneva, or Lake Léman as the Swiss prefer to call it. You can read more about this gorgeous auditorium and its amazing acoustical design in my previous post titled My Behind The Scene Tour and Overview of The Montreux Jazz Festival!

Having been blessed with a amazing VIP package from the wonderful Sloane Family earlier in the year, we were so excited and didn’t know what to expect! We had already been greeted upon arrival to our hotel by a Festival representative and been given a goodie bag full of Mac Cosmetics, two festival tee-shirts, a dual-disc sampler CD, Missoni pamphlets and more.

View of festival sidewalk heading up to Auditorium Stravinsky at night!

Night view of festival sidewalk heading up to Auditorium Stravinsky, which is to the left of the white tent! The Lake is located behind me at this view.

We found our way to the Protocole’ Office where a most gracious staff took care of us.  Vivian, Josephine and Helena were beyond wonderful!!  Thank you ladies for your patience, giving us the best of care, making sure we weren’t kicked out of our booth by the stars and reminding us how hospitality should be handled.  New Yorkers need to recognize!  The hospitality in Switzerland is absolutely unmatchable.

We were given two slips of thick paper and orange wrist bands that served as entry to the box seats. We were shown the way to the top of the venue, led down a little hallway and placed into Box #4.  My magic number 🙂  There were only six boxes total as far as our floor was concerned. If they had more, I never knew about them or saw them.

Raging the Box Seat Shot!

Happy Box Seat Ragers!!

The below picture shows the stage from the left side box view.  We were just the mirror image, same spot but our box was situated to the right of the stage. It was a phenomenal view of the show, albeit far away.  There would be no front row raging during these performances.

Auditorium Stravinski

Auditorium Stravinski

The show was slated to begin at 8pm but we all know what that means.  Finally around 8:45pm, beginning fashionably late (pun intended and you’ll see why later), Claude “Funky Claude” Nobs, the fonder and general manager of The Festival, and a few staff members came out on stage to press festival merchandise. Claude led the pack, wearing multiple shirts, stripping away a layer at a time then throwing the shirts into the audience. Then came the introductions via Funky Claude.

The Miles Davis Tribute @ The Montreux Jazz Festival

The Miles Davis Tribute @ The Montreux Jazz Festival (C) Lionel Flusin

Miles Davis Tribute produced by Marcus Miller

Herbie Hancock – Keys
Wayne Shorter – Saxophone
Marcus Miller – Bass
Sean Christopher Rickman – Drums
Sean Christopher Jones – Trumpet

Pianist and composer Herbie Hancock, saxophonist Wayne Shorter and bassist Marcus Miller are all alums of the school of Miles Davis, having all had the pleasure of playing with Davis before he passed.  The jazz great, whose statue stands proudly in a park next to Miles Davis Hall, performed 10 times at Montreux, the last time just two months before his death at age 65 in 1991.

Claude welcomes Marcus Miller (C) Lionel Flusin 2

Claude welcomes Marcus Miller (C) Lionel Flusin

Marcus Miller was introduced and came out in an all white suit and his signature black hat.  Herbie Hancock was introduced and came out rocking a MEGA Cosby Sweater to which Claude commented on how he liked it. Well, of course he did.  Claude Nobs only wears Missioni!  Yall know the “interesting” $1,000+ designs that looks like ugly sweater patterns? It’s my least favorite store on Madison Avenue and here is this dude who only wears that brand. He rocked every piece 🙂  It was made for Claude and all his fabulousness and, to be honest, I grew to like a few items during my trip.  Wayne Shorter was next and in the tradition of Davis, the trio has brought in two young musicians to work with them, trumpeter Sean Jones and the drummer Sean Rickman.

Sean Jones during The Miles Davis Tribute @ The Montreux Jazz Festival

Sean Jones during The Miles Davis Tribute @ The Montreux Jazz Festival

The two-hour concert, which stretched into the early hours of Thursday, was a highlight of the 45th annual Montreux Jazz Festival, “where Davis is still remembered for driving along Lake Geneva in a red Ferrari.”

Set List

Little One
All Blues
It’s About That Time
Water Babies
Someday My Prince Will Come
Put Your Little Foot Forward
Jean Pierre
Dr Jeckyll


Time After Time

Marcus Miller (C) Lionel Flusin

Marcus Miller (C) Lionel Flusin

The five piece ensemble opened with “Walkin,” the title track of Miles Davis‘s 1954 album.  Herbie Hancock started the song out slowly, following through alternating from his piano and keyboards.  During his solo, his face made the deepest of connections with the notes and you could see it in the way he contorted his mouth and eyes with feeling.  There was gorgeous mournful trumpet and saxophone exchange between Sean Jones and Wayne Shorter respectively and then the “Blah, Blah, Blah” happened through “Little Ones” and “Milestones.”

During the Marcus Miller workshop the following day, a question was asked about the set list and how it was formed.  Miller spoke about how they picked the song, (which I will speak of fully in the Marcus Miller Workshop Post to follow this one next week).

He spoke about how they didn’t want to do the songs the same and it was when they began to have fun with the songs that the “Blah, Blah, Blah” would happen. It was the “Blah, Blah, Blah” that made this experience its own and where the beauty in the performance was meant to show itself.  So, during each song, the group would go off into “Blah, Blah, Blah” and that was when the magic happened.

Marcus Miller raged an amazing electric bass solo during “All Blues” as he curled his fingers into the strings, creating a gorgeous texture of sound. There was no guitar on stage, yet it was so tight, so jazzy and so full of notes and excitement that it filled the auditorium fully. During the “Blah,Blah, Blah” towards the end, Miller changed to a saxophone-looking instrument that layered a deep tone under the rest of the group.

Sean Jones and Wayne Shorter (C) Lionel Flusin

Sean Jones and Wayne Shorter (C) Lionel Flusin

During a swanky “Directions,” I notice movement in the box to my left.  I see Esperanza Spalding being sat down on the second row with a few of her people. At first, I didn’t think it was her but then who else rocks hair like that?  It took all my power not to geek out.  She is a musical goddess and we would be enjoying her performance only a few hours later for the Quincy Jones’s Global Gumbo, (another post that will be following this one shortly).

“Someday My Prince Will Come,” from the 1961 album recorded with John Coltrane, was beautiful.  This is one of my all time favorite songs.  A gorgeous song from Disney’s 1937’s Classic Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs, it’s impossible not to feel something as a female while listening to this song.  My eyes immediately welled up and I know I was not alone in this emotional stirring of the soul.

Sean Rickman (C) Lionel Flusin

Sean Rickman (C) Lionel Flusin

Marcus Miller started off with a slow bass solo then Sean Rickman and Herbie Hancock took over the stage. I had never seen Rickman or so I thought.  He is actually the drummer from Garaj Mahal, a group I have not been able to see in a long time.  He caught my ear. Most of the time drummers are not the artists who catch my ears in a project like this.  He was superb and he looked to be having so much fun up there as his smile never once dropped, nor did his beat.

Then, a nice informative break in the show as Wayne Shorter engaged the audience with how the super group decided to approach this tribute.

Wayne Shorter during The Miles Davis Tribute @ The Montreux Jazz Festival

Wayne Shorter during The Miles Davis Tribute @ The Montreux Jazz Festival

During their first rehearsal, the five men did nothing but talk about how best to honor Miles’s spirit. They didn’t play a single note during the entire first rehearsal.  Miller would later say in his Workshop that during that time of revelation, they would try to outdo each other by seeing who could come up with the most obscure Miles tunes.  It was during this time, during this first rehearsal, that Miller said they became a band, before a single note was ever played between them.

“In preparing for these concerts,” Mr. Hancock said, “we had many conversations about the interests of Miles outside of music like boxing and cooking. He was arguably a master chef. It adds more dimensions to him. We’ll embrace his spirit by being in the moment and creating a new perspective, sometimes on known themes.”

While putting together their set list, the one thing the group didn’t want to do was “play in the style in which it was originally done because we figured Miles would hate that.” Miles was a man who always looks forward and so as they looked back at his music to play they knew that Miles would have wanted them to look forward, taking his music to new levels.

Let’s make it like a soundtrack to Miles’s life’!” “It doesn’t feel like 20 years, it feels like 4 or 5. Miles’s music is everywhere. This is dedicated to the spirit of Miles Davis, the most beautiful thing he gave us.” ~ Marcus Miller

They spoke on how they felt Miles had only been dead 4 or 5 years, not the 20 years  that we were celebrating tonight.  They felt, and I agree, that this was because of the fact that Miles’s music is still so very relevant today and the lingering spirit that resides in all the artists who played with him keep his spirit flowing through the scene and through the music.

Sean Jones (C) Lionel Flusin

Sean Jones (C) Lionel Flusin

Breaking into “Footprints,” Wayne Shorter related to the audience that this portion of the show would represent Miles’s childhood.   The songs were playful which made sense and the “Blah, Blah, Blah of this song became funky as the bass and horns led the pack.  During the song, Hancock transformed his keyboards into human noises, each key making a different sound consisting of hoots and hollers sound bites from James Brown that said “Come on,” “Groove,” “Yeah,” and cat calls and yelps. The “Blah, Blah, Blah” had taken over.

There was another song thrown in to the mix here that I just couldn’t get the name of.  Sean Rickman would later tell me:

“After ‘Footprints’ we play[ed] a swing tune that represented Miles’ “childhood”. I forgot the name of that tune. Then we did Jean Pierre.”

Marcus put down the electric bass and moved to the standup for “Jean Pierre” which changed the entire scenery of the sound in the room, almost big band-y.  I knew it was a song from later in Miles’s day.  If I could only remember the name.  The trumpets led the band during and the “Blah, Blah, Blah” of this song went on for minutes and ended in a standing ovation of the crowd.

Herbie Hancock (C) Lionel Flusin

Herbie Hancock (C) Lionel Flusin

Being on the big stage for this 5 piece band was perfect. The artists on stage lined up for a bow and it was tearful moment for me.  The music had been overwhelmingly different from anything I had expected to hear that night. I don’t think I have experienced such a tight and wonderful jazz performance.  The legends on that stage, the fact that it wasn’t being played in America, my appreciation for the moment, my appreciation for Miles; it brought tears to my eyes.

I wasn’t the only one who felt this way. The entire crowd was standing in ovation with respect for the super group who had just played the “Blah, Blah, Blah” out of the music! Taking the music to an entirely new level and doing EXACTLY what they had planned.  After the ovation, Hancock strapped on a synthesizer keyboard for the first encore: “TuTu.”

Marcus Miller @ Montreux Jazz Festival

Marcus Miller @ Montreux Jazz Festival

Hancock and Miller had fun during this tune, walking towards each other in the middle of the stage and Hancock bantered musically with each musician.  Each one playing a rip and Hancock coming back with his handheld. When it was Shorter’s turn, he blasted out a single note, laughter again erupted into the audience. All Wayne Shorter needs to play is a single note.  So amazing.

Once again, they maneuvered to getting off the stage but this time they were stopped by Claude Nops, who requested another song.  This time, the song that took us all by surprise, “Time After Time,” a song made famous by Cyndi Lauper in the 80’s, was played.

Marcus Miller was back on his deep saxophone and created a totally wormy sound from the instrument to take “Time after Time” to a different place.  Without Hancock playing the melody shortly after, one might not have recognized the song. I recognized it immediately. There was even a Star Wars tease from Shorter on his saxophone in there if you caught it.  Completely playful and unique.

Later, during his workshop, Marcus Miller would speak about how Miles Davis could take a super cheesy song or a song that most musicians might view as cheesy and find the beauty in it.  This was one of those songs.  Miller felt that ending with a song that Miles Davis revamped was a perfect ending to this tribute, showing us how he could be the master of anything.

“Marcus produced a great concert,” said Claude Nobs, founder of the Swiss festival now in its 45th year.

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May 2011 Music Calendar

May 2011 Music Calendar

Calendar updated daily!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

  • ($20-$25) Bill Frisell Quartet featuring Ron Miles, Tony Scherr, Kenny Wolleson @ Village Vanguard

Monday, May 2, 2011

  • ($8) Jim Campilongo @ The Living Room
  • ($20) The Airborne Toxic Event @ Pianos
  • ($25) Mingus Big Band @ The Jazz Standard

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

  • (Free) Dred Scott Trio @ Rockwood Music Hall
  • ($24) The Airbourne Toxic Event @ The Mercury Lounge

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

  • (Free) Brooklyn Shakedown with Nutritious @ Bembe
  • ($24) The Airbourne Toxic Event @ The Bowery Ballroom
  • ($40-$133) Batiashvili, Bartók, and Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony @ Avery Fisher Hall

Thursday, May 5, 2011

  • New Orleans Jazz Festival, New Orleans, LA
  • (Free) Gent Treadly @ 11th Street Bar
  • (Free) Nir Felder Group (Mark Guiliana) @ 55 Bar
  • ($5) Sophistafunk @ Rockwood Music Hall
  • ($15) Jackie Greene @ Brooklyn Bowl
  • ($20-$25) The Airborne Toxic Event @ Webster Hall
  • ($40-$46) Bad Religion @ Terminal 5
  • ($65-$144) Gladys Knight @ Beacon Theater
  • ($1,500 – $5,000) Alan Gilbert Conducts 120th Anniversary Concert @ Carnegie Hall
    • Gala tickets include a seat at the concert and admission to a post-concert dinner-dance at The Plaza

Friday, May 6, 2011

  • New Orleans Jazz Festival, New Orleans, LA
  • (Free) Taurus (Mark Guiliana) @ Bowery Electric
  • ($10) The Mother Hips @ The Brooklyn Bowl
  • ($15 – $20) The Infamous String Dusters @ Bowery Ballroom
  • ($22) Reverend Horton Heat plus Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band @ The Bell House
  • ($24-$45) The Airborne Toxic Event @ Town Hall
  • ($25-$30) Minus The Bear @ Music Hall of Williamsburg
  • ($40-$46) Bad Religion @ Terminal 5
  • ($40-$127) Batiashvili, Bartók, and Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony @ Avery Fisher Hall

Saturday, May 7, 2011

  • New Orleans Jazz Festival, New Orleans, LA
  • ($22-$27) The NEW DEAL with special guests OTT & Sub Swara @ Terminal 5
  • ($43-$138) Batiashvili, Bartók, and Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony @ Avery Fisher Hall

Sunday, May 8, 2011

  • New Orleans Jazz Festival, New Orleans, LA
  • ($22) Reverend Horton Heat plus Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band @ Highline Ballroom
  • ($41-$46) Interpol / Blonde Redhead @Terminal 5

Monday, May 9, 2011

  • (Free) Now vs. Now (Mark Guiliana) @ Rockwood Music Hall
  • ($8) Jim Campilongo @ The Living Room
  • ($25) Mingus Big Band @ The Jazz Standard
  • ($1,500 – $5,000) James Taylor @ Carnegie Hall
    • Package A: Tickets are either $2,500 or $5,000 and include the exclusive After-Party and a seat in the Prime Parquet at the concert.
    • Package B: Tickets are $1,000 and include the pre-concert Cocktail Reception and a seat in the Parquet or Second Tier at the concert.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

  • (Free) Chris Morrissey Quintet @ Rockwood Music Hall
  • ($30-$40) Pharoah Sanders Quartet @ Birdland New York
  • ($32-$38) Raphael Saadiq @ Webster Hall
  • ($45-$65) Al Jarreau and the George Duke Trio @ The Blue Note
  • ($60-$159) Paul Simon @ The Beacon Theater

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

  • (Free) Brooklyn Shakedown with Nutritious @ Bembe
  • ($15) The Louis Armstrong Centennial Band @ Birdland NYC
  • ($45-$65) Al Jarreau and the George Duke Trio @ The Blue Note
  • ($55-$159) Paul Simon @ The Beacon Theater
  • ($50-$65) Blind Boys of Alabama @ City Winery

Thursday, May 12, 2011

  • (Free) Maceo Parker @Pier One ~ Brooklyn Bridge Park
  • ($15) Break Science @ Highline Ballroom
  • ($30-$40) Pharoah Sanders Quartet @ Birdland NYC
  • ($35-$40) Brenda Russell and the George Duke Trio @ The Blue Note
  • ($40-$64) Warren Haynes Band @ Beacon Theater
  • ($40-$87) A Celebration of Kate McGarrigle w/ Rufus Wainwright, Emmylou Harris & Martha Wainwright Town Hall

Friday, May 13, 2011

  • (Free) Meshell Ndegeocello @ Gatehouse Restaurant and Bar, Brooklyn
  • ($12) Wyllys @ Sullivan Hall
  • ($30) Deftones @ Best Buy Theater
  • ($30) The Mahavishnu Project plays the music of Jeff Beck @ Iridium Jazz Club
  • ($30-$40) Pharoah Sanders Quartet @ Birdland NYC
  • ($35-$40) Brenda Russell and the George Duke Trio @ The Blue Note
  • ($40-$55) Allen Toussaint @ City Winery
  • ($40-$87) A Celebration of Kate McGarrigle w/ Rufus Wainwright, Emmylou Harris & Martha Wainwright Town Hall

Saturday, May 14, 2011

  • (Free) The Prigs @ Rockwood Music Hall
  • (Free) Meshell Ndegeocello @ Gatehouse Restaurant and Bar, Brooklyn
  • (Free) Red Baraat for the Carnegie Hall Neighborhood Concert Series @ The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
  • ($24-$29) Crash Test Dummies with Rob Morsberger @ City Winery
  • ($30) Deftones @ Best Buy Theater
  • ($30-$40) Pharoah Sanders Quartet @ Birdland NYC
  • ($45-$65) Al Jarreau and the George Duke Trio @ The Blue Note
  • ($80-$130) David Crosby & Graham Nash @ Town Hall

Sunday, May 15, 2011

  • (Free) Red Barraat for Celebrate Brooklyn! at Brooklyn Bridge Park @ Celebrate Brooklyn Dance Party
  • ($30) Chico O’Farrill Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra @ Birdland NYC
  • ($35-$55) Taylor Hicks @ City Winery
  • ($45-$65) Al Jarreau and the George Duke Trio @ The Blue Note
  • ($45-$75) Marcus Miller Presents: A Concert for Japanese Tsunami Relief  @ Highline Ballroom
    • Featuring Raheem Devaughn, Robert Glasper, Sean Jones, Angelique Kidjo, Gregoire Maret, Raul Midon,Q-Tip, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Kaoru Watanabe, Louis Cato, Alex Han, Federico Gonzalez Pena, Vince Wilburn, Wallace Roney and more TBA!

Monday, May 16, 2011

  • ($8) Jim Campilongo @ The Living Room
  • ($24-30) Rusted Root @ Bowery Ballroom
  • ($25) Mingus Big Band @ The Jazz Standard

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

  • ($20) Rusted Root’s Adam Ezra Group @ Brooklyn Bowl
  • ($30-$35) Lykke Li @ Webster Hall
  • ($35-$60) Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers w/ Henry Butler @ Highline Ballroom

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

  • (Free) Brooklyn Shakedown with Nutritious @ Bembe
  • ($20) Felice Brothers @ The Bell House
  • ($25) Maceo Parker @ S.O.B.’s
  • ($30-$35) Lykke Li @ Webster Hall
  • ($35-$40) En Vouge @ B.B. Kings
  • ($35-$60) Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers w/ Eric Lindell (Album Release) @ Highline Ballroom

Thursday, May 19, 2011

  • ($15-$20) Lo, Aaron, Dan and Jon of God Street Wine @ Joe’s Pub
  • (Free) Nir Felder Group (Mark Guiliana) @ 55 Bar
  • ($10) Fundimensionals @ Sullivan Hall
  • ($18-22) New Riders of the Purple Sage @ B.B. Kings
  • ($20) The Felice Brothers @ The Bell House
  • ($20) Reflection @ Rocks Off Cruise (The Halfmoon)
  • ($25-$31) Brett Dennen @ Webster Hall
  • ($35-$80) Adele @ Beacon Theater

Friday, May 20, 2011

  • ($20-$25) Bill Frisell Quartet featuring Ron Miles, Tony Scherr, Kenny Wolleson @ Village Vanguard
  • ($25) John Mayall @ B.B. Kings Blues Club
  • ($25) Murder By Death @ Rocks Off River Cruise

Saturday, May 21, 2011

  • ($12) Garage A Trois @ Brooklyn Bowl
  • ($20-$25) Bill Frisell Quartet featuring Ron Miles, Tony Scherr, Kenny Wolleson @ Village Vanguard
  • ($50-$77) Adele @ United Palace Theater
  • ($55-$75)  Johnny Mathis @ Lehman Arts Center, Bronx
  • ($55-$65) Esperanza Spalding @ Town Hall

Sunday, May 22, 2011

  • (???) Mark Guiliana @ 55 Bar
  • ($10-$15) A Soulful N’awlins Sunday Brunch w/ Brother Joscephus & The Love Revival Revolution Orchestra @ Le Poisson Rouge
  • ($20-$25) Bill Frisell Quartet featuring Ron Miles, Tony Scherr, Kenny Wolleson @ Village Vanguard
  • ($30) Chico O’Farrill Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra @ Birdland NYC
  • ($50-$107) Elvis Costello and The Imposters – The Revolver Tour @ Beacon Theater

Monday, May 23, 2011

  • ($8) Jim Campilongo @ The Living Room
  • ($20-$25) Bill Frisell Quartet featuring Ron Miles, Tony Scherr, Kenny Wolleson @ Village Vanguard
  • ($25) Mingus Big Band @ The Jazz Standard
  • ($50-$107) Elvis Costello and The Imposters – The Revolver Tour @ Beacon Theater

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

  • (Free) Dred Scott Trio @ Rockwood Music Hall
  • ($7) Richie Goods and Nuclear Fusion @ Local 269
  • ($20-$25) Bill Frisell Quartet featuring Ron Miles, Tony Scherr, Kenny Wolleson @ Village Vanguard
  • ($20-$100) Club d’Elf & John Medeski @ Brooklyn Bowl
  • ($25-$30) Panic At The Disco @ Terminal 5
  • ($30-$40) Kenny Barron Quartet with Terrance Blanchard @ Birdland NYC
  • ($30-$45) Stanley Clarke @ The Blue Note
  • ($35-$41) Artic Monkeys @ Rumsey Playfield, Central Park
  • ($40-$115) Bettye LaVette @ Cafe Carlyle
  • ($50-$107) Elvis Costello and The Imposters – The Revolver Tour @ Beacon Theater

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

  • (Free) Brooklyn Shakedown with Nutritious @ Bembe
  • ($10) Gent Treadly, Willie Waldman Project, DJ Logic @ Sullivan Hall
  • ($15) Kenny Barron Quartet with The Louis Armstrong Centennial Band @ Birdland NYC
  • ($20-$25) Bill Frisell Quartet featuring Ron Miles, Tony Scherr, Kenny Wolleson @ Village Vanguard
  • ($30-$45) Stanley Clarke @ The Blue Note
  • ($40-$115) Bettye LaVette @ Cafe Carlyle
  • ($52-$65) The Cars @ Roseland Ballroom

Thursday, May 26, 2011

  • (Free) Celebrate Brooklyn! at Brooklyn Bridge Park @ Celebrate Brooklyn Dance Party @ Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn, NY
    • Red Baraat and many more…
  • (Free) Tall, Tall Trees @ Rockwood Music Hall
  • ($30-$40) Kenny Barron Quartet with Terrance Blanchard @ Birdland NYC
  • ($30-$45) Stanley Clarke @ The Blue Note
  • ($40-$115) Bettye LaVette @ Cafe Carlyle

Friday, May 27, 2011

  • ($15) Joe Krown Trio feat. Walter “Wolfman” Washington & Russell Batiste followed by MiloZ @ Sullivan Hall
  • ($20-$25) Steve Kuhn (solo piano) & The Daniel Bennett Group @ The Triad Theater
  • ($25) The Birdland Big Band directed by Tommy Igoe @ Birdland NYC
  • ($30-$45) Stanley Clarke @ The Blue Note
  • ($40-$115) Bettye LaVette @ Cafe Carlyle
  • ($50-$200) Wavy Gravy’s 75th Birthday!
    • Jackson Browne, Ani DiFranco, Steve Earle, Allison Moorer, Dr. John, Bruce Hornsby, Jorma Kaukonen, Steve Kimock, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Wavy Gravy

Saturday, May 28, 2011

  • ($20) Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars @ The Bell House
  • ($25-$28) David Johansen (Of the New York Dolls) @ City Winery
  • ($30-$45) Stanley Clarke @ The Blue Note

Sunday, May 29, 2011

  • ($18) Slick Rick @ B.B. Kings Blues Club
  • ($23-$28) Bob Schneider @ Bowery Ballroom
  • ($25) The Birdland Jazz Quartet @ Birdland NYC
  • ($30) Chico O’Farrill Afro-Cuban Jazz Orchestra @ Birdland NYC
  • ($30-$45) Stanley Clarke @ The Blue Note
  • ($40-$115) Bettye LaVette @ Cafe Carlyle

Monday, May 30, 2011

  • ($8) Jim Campilongo @ The Living Room
  • ($20-$25) Bill Frisell Quartet featuring Ron Miles, Tony Scherr, Kenny Wolleson @ Village Vanguard
  • ($25) Mingus Big Band @ The Jazz Standard
  • ($30-$45) Stanley Clarke @ The Blue Note
  • ($40-$115) Bettye LaVette @ Cafe Carlyle

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

  • (Free) Ray LaMontagne, Brandi Carlile, The Secret Sisters @ Central Park’s Summer Stage
  • (Free) Dred Scott Trio @ Rockwood Music Hall
  • ($15) 7 Walkers featuring Bill Kreutzmann of Grateful Dead, Kirk Joseph of Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Papa Mali and Matt Hubbard, Jason Crosby and Dark Loft @ Brooklyn Bowl
  • ($30-$45) Stanley Clarke @ The Blue Note
  • ($37.50) George Clinton & The Parliament-Funkadelic All-Stars @ B.B. Kings
  • ($40-$115) Bettye LaVette @ Cafe Carlyle

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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!!!


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 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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