This past Sunday I had the EXTREME privileged to watch two Jazz legends perform. Roy Ayers was playing at Blues Alley in Georgetown and he TORE THE HOUSE DOWN!!! Although he only played 5 to 6 songs, he hit all the classics. Started with Searching, one of my all time favorites!!!
Then he started calling out for "Tom". Everyone in the crowd looked around at who he was talking about. Roy said;
"Tom", "Tom", "Where are you?" peering into the back of the club towards the bar....
"You know, Tom!" asking the crowd, "Funkin' for Jamaica, Tom!" "Tom Browne"
WHAT!!!?!?!?! I almost S#IT a Brick! Tom "EFFING" Browne!!!! Funkin' for Jamaica is a STAPLE in my crate! NOTHING gets the party going like Funkin' for Jamaica, and here I am, about to see it performed live by Tom Browne AND Roy Ayers!!
The whole crowd was electrified, knowing that what they were witnessing was truly memorable. After Searching and Funkin' For Jamaica, Tom Browne stayed on for the rest of the evening as Roy Ayers took us through Everybody Loves the Sunshine and We live in Brooklyn, Baby!. For a lover of music, it just didn't get any better than this. The combination of Roy, Tom and the rest of the supporting cast exemplified what it means to be a Jazz musician and the utter skill it takes to be an improvisational musician.
In 1942 Dizzy Gillespie wrote one of the most recognizable and played jazz standards, A Night in Tunisia. And on Sunday, we were privy to hear Roy Ayers' version of the classic standard. I'm not sure what device he attached to his xylophone, but it gave it this funky sound, like Stevie Wonder's synthesizer in the beginning of Higher Ground. His version gave each member of the ensemble their 5 min solo, and the standout performance was undoubtedly the drummer. This young man from Baltimore stunned the crowd with his speed, skill and ingenuity!
One thing that always bothers me is, why do Jazz musicians wear ill fitting tacky blazers with black mock neck t-shirt and thin gold chains? Not to mention, the backwards black Kangol hat? WTF? Is that the jazz musician uniform? Does it somehow proclaim, I may be playing Jazz, but I'm still hip cuz I wear my Kangol backwards? I guess that's why Sam Jackson wears his backwards, but someone needs to tell him. He's already cool. He doesn't need it. Anyway, I digress...
After leaving the club, I felt relieved. Relieved that I was able to witness not only one, but two jazz greats at least once in my life. The same feeling I felt after I seeing Gil Scott heron and George Duke.