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Mellow Out and Maybe Shout on a Friday Night A bumper to bumper car ride on a congested Los Angeles freeway ended in a welcoming atmosphere of musical satisfaction at Parkway Grill in Pasadena on Friday, April 18th, 2008. The dinner crowd waited patiently for seating in a designated area, adjacent to a cozy lounge softly beckoning patrons. All the anticipating guests, ready for a meal, a drink, a moment to reflect and perhaps enjoy a serenade of jazz and swing tunes had been drawn to the right space. David Arnaya musician who just happens to play piano, teased an ardent audience unwinding from the toil of the week's 9 to 5. We were delighted and enchanted all evening with his creative chops at the piano. As we sat back in our seats, whisked away to a land of blues, swing, calypso and untainted jazz, the rejuvenation began. Cedar Walton's "Bolivia" was a sizzling starter tune. The pianist's chord progressions and melodies were not only soothing but tantalizing to the ear, soul, and entire body. Nedra Wheeler, bassist, joined David, and as hand and glove go together in cold weather, her skillful playing only added to the music massage. It was a love affair in the artistry of music making. The attentive audience of eager participants fell in love with Wheeler as she caressed the strings of her bass as well as the strings of our souls. Tunes like "What's New" and "Lush Life" took us aboard the standards train. The bebop favorite, "Groovin' High" offered us a flight on a different kind of plane. And 'groovin' we were after only minutes of the performance. A toddler eased from her seat and got into her own groove, dancing with the beat as her family smiled with approval. Duke Ellington's "Mood Indigo" was performed with soul, complexity and serenity. Arnay's original tribute to pianist Dollar Brand and calypso singer Mighty Sparrow, "The Mighty Dollar" was a treat to experience. The fusion between Wheeler and Arnay was a remedy for any stress or tiredness, providing a serene balm for any heartache, heartbreak, ailment or wailing. Their interpretation of each piece performed was lovingly constructed. The pair collectively and individually expressed beauty that was euphoric, on their respective instruments, from their hearts.
Parkway Grill is not merely a restaurant and bar with music available six nights a week (the duo plays every Friday) but a refuge for a musical adventure. You will find David Arnay there each Friday with an exciting bassist and equally exciting array of music.
I love jazz because it mixes intellect and emotion in a very spontaneous way.
I was first exposed to jazz by liberating a Coltrane and a Pharoah Sanders record from a friend in NYC and listening to them over and over until I got it.
My advice to new listeners is you have to take the time to listen to some jazz tunes a number of times until it starts to make sense.