Sonship Theus Benefit in Los Angeles
Their third performance again boldly flew through a fiery arrangement, but this time warmed up. After much anticipation, Sessions blew an electrifying alto aria using up much of the sax in a few measures and going back for more. His advanced facility with circular breathing and melodic production make his solo moments exhilarating. With that momentum the Ark maintained a full strength sure footed groove for Steve Smith's hungry trumpet. Sessions led the saxophones in support. Miranda brought his big hands, and Tracy Caldwell blistered on alto. McCoy Tyner's "Man from Tanganyika" received a colorful reading with Sessions leading on soprano. Riding on the African inspired polyrhythms, Roberts danced on flute, Ranelin kept it mellow, while Renbert Jamos played his 'bone raw and bluesy. Kaliq, Sessions, and Caldwell swapped measures for fun.
With a strong set already under their collective belt, the Ark proved the thrill ride was for from over. Dwight Trible led the nine voice UGMA choir, making the roof officially blown off. Wahib's flugelhorn flew on a gloriously arranged choral/arkestra interaction. The day's only encore, the anthemic "Little Africa" began with Trible's acapella gospel invocation that threatened to vaporize the tabernacle. The choir's joyous song of unity, and the musicians' palpable enthusiasm should have healed Sonship then and there.
Who could follow that peak tour de force but the Watts Prophets, or at least two thirds of the famous trio. Their brief reminder of bigger issues gave way to Larry Nash and Jazz Symphonics. The quartet included Ricky Woodard on tenor sax and Ndugu Chancellor on drums. Veteran of Cannonball Adderly, Bobbie Hutcherson, and Eddie Harris, Nash kept it bright and active, the Symponics coming up with one irresistible groove after another. Nash and Woodard took turns scorching the tune at hands. James Gatson and David Ornette Cherry also performed.
After seven hours the evening wound down, but the outpouring of affection for Sonship Theus continued vibrating through the night. "This is a healing for all of us," Chini Kopano said.