306

David Arnay and Nedra Wheeler at Parkway Grill, Pasadena

By

Sign in to view read count
David Arnay and Nedra Wheeler
Friday Night Jazz at Parkway Grill
The Parkway Grill
Pasadena, California
August 15, 2008

Imagine this... An Olympic Marathon of the blues mixed with straight ahead jazz relays, all seasoned with a dash of ballads, swing, and contemporary compositions from the '60's and '70's and a standard turned into a tantalizing tango. This was the soulful session that occurred Friday night, August 15th, at the Parkway Grill in Pasadena. The packed lounge and bar area was alive with easy conversation, food and drink; I was seated with a friend. As we settled in for an evening of dinner and Friday night relaxation, we anticipated a wondrous musical experience.

Pianist David Arnay and bassist Nedra Wheeler serenaded us with an array of tunes that would take us on an explicitly soulful journey. The combination of the two seasoned musicians not only lured the audience all night but would also inspire a couple of devoted jazz lovers to join them before the night was done. The result was a trio delight.

The flight included the beautiful blues by Miles Davis, "All Blues," the Thelonious Monk tune, "Crepuscule with Nelly," and the Erskine Hawkins swinger, "Tuxedo Junction." Finally, Charlie Parker's "Confirmation" was just that—a varied validation of the duo's creativity.

Wheeler showed that her vocal chops were equally as cool and in the pocket as her soulful bass work, sounding lyrical, joyous, and filled with a glorious sense of timing.



Next, the musical couple earned a long-stemmed rose between the teeth a tantalizing tango version of Cole Porter' "What Is This Thing Called Love." It was passion personified. Finally, the team mixed in a bit of the late 1960's with the Fifth Dimension's "Up, Up, and Away" and "Good Day Sunshine." The 1970's were not left behind as the duo performed a tune made famous by the band Chicago, "25 or 6 To 4," followed by Stevie Wonder's "Master Blaster," which sounded as soulful and funky as ever.

The artists invited some sitting in as the night progressed. An ardent pianist in his own right, Michael sat down in front of the ivory and black keys and performed a solid version of Duke Ellington's rarely heard "Angelica." The attentive audience was rewarded by Michael's performance during this number as well as by David Arnay, a man of versatility, who sported his guitar playing abilities to back up Michael along with Nedra's contributions on bass.



I feel a bit awkward in sharing this, but David stepped over to my table and asked if I had "brought my axe." Flute in hand, I went up to the band stand and elatedly stayed with the blues form, performing a Sonny Rollins tune, "Blue 7," followed by Duke Ellington's "C-Jam Blues."

The scene seemed as though there wasn't a ceiling over the lounge area, where the three of us floated to the heavens in sync with the spirit of the moment and music. The two musical hosts' spontaneity, gracefulness, acute union, and affecting approach were contagious and wonderful. Indeed, this proved a night bursting with surprise, serenity, and serendipity.


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival 2017 Live Reviews Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival 2017
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Mike Zito at the Iridium Live Reviews Mike Zito at the Iridium
by Mike Perciaccante
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Grand Union Orchestra at Wilton's Music Hall Live Reviews Grand Union Orchestra at Wilton's Music Hall
by Duncan Heining
Published: June 20, 2017
Read Burlington Discover Jazz Festival 2017 Live Reviews Burlington Discover Jazz Festival 2017
by Doug Collette
Published: June 18, 2017
Read Jean Luc Ponty Band at the Boulder Theater Live Reviews Jean Luc Ponty Band at the Boulder Theater
by Geoff Anderson
Published: June 17, 2017
Read ELBJAZZ 2017 Live Reviews ELBJAZZ 2017
by Ian Patterson
Published: June 15, 2017
Read "Craig Handy Quartet at Sunset Jazz Club" Live Reviews Craig Handy Quartet at Sunset Jazz Club
by Patricia Myers
Published: July 14, 2016
Read "TD Ottawa Jazz Festival 2016" Live Reviews TD Ottawa Jazz Festival 2016
by John Kelman
Published: July 3, 2016
Read "Omar Sosa Residency at SFJAZZ" Live Reviews Omar Sosa Residency at SFJAZZ
by Harry S. Pariser
Published: May 8, 2017
Read "Jazztopad 2016, Part 1" Live Reviews Jazztopad 2016, Part 1
by Henning Bolte
Published: December 24, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.