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Live From New York

April 2004

By Published: April 2, 2004
Pianist Charles Eubanks’ trio with Ratzo Harris and Warren Benbow played a rousing version of Coltrane’s “Satellite” and David Lopato’s quartet with Ratzo Harris, Gene Jackson and Arun Luthra performed his “Suite 9/11”. Kali Z Fasteau presented her Eastern influenced blend of music in a duo with master drummer Warren Smith. Hilts’ nonet, Lyric Fury, played some exciting music, one calling for a “revolution celebration”. The pianist then played “In A Sentimental Mood” and a free improvisation with Jim Hall, who spoke eloquently and played a solo “All The Things You Are”. Gino Stinson sang sweetly as the evening faded peacefully.

Pianist James Williams began celebrating his 53rd birthday early on March 4th, at Le Jazz Au Bar, with a trio featuring bassist Ray Drummond and vibraphonist Stefon Harris, augmented by special guests, songstress Vanessa Rubin and saxophonist Jimmy Heath. The first evening of a four-night engagement, showcasing several visiting celebrants with the pianist, at the elegant new midtown jazz room, would prove to be a difficult one to surpass. Williams opened with the trio playing his original "Four Play", setting a hard swinging tone for the night. Next, the group played an inspired original arrangement of "Summertime" by Harris, followed by a straight ahead walking version of "Just In Time" and a gospel tinged rendition of Williams’ "The Reason Why We Sing".

Rubin came out fingers snapping with an up-tempo "The More I See You", before mellowing with a moving "Never Let Me Go" and a bluesy "Love Will Make You Change". Heath came on opening with his Sarah Vaughn dedication, "A Sassy Samba" and then "You’ve Changed", prefacing the ballad with a recitation of his own humorous lyric. A smoking free-for-all on "What Is This Thing Called Love" followed, before Rubin returned to stretch out on "I’ve Got The World On A String" and "Bye-Bye Blackbird". The two-hour set ended soulfully with "Bags Groove".

~ Russ Musto

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