Rodney Jones, Arthur Blythe, Fred Wesley, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Idris Muhammad The Knitting Factory Hollywood, California October 12, 2001
Soul Manifesto's performance began a little stiff and tedious. At first, the music just didn't click the way it was supposed to. The young crowd was standing around flat-footed, not sure if the room would ever start moving. One by one, however, the five artists in Rodney Jones' touring band began turning up the heat gradually. Halfway through the opening number, veteran acid jazz organist Lonnie Smith and JB Horns inspiration Fred Wesley finally broke the ice. From then on, the night never cooled. Audience members danced in place and rocked to the insistent soul-jazz beat. The band played songs from Jones' new Blue Note album: songs that emphasize emotion and invite everyone to share the feeling. They're songs that burn with passion. Coincidentally, the session was interrupted after more than an hour – by The Knitting Factory's fire alarm. Two big fire trucks showed up and demanded an evacuation. It was a false alarm. Nevertheless, the night proved fruitful for Jones and his veteran band. The guitarist provided the intro to "Soul Makossa." His long feature grabbed the audience with increased volume and a blazing technique. Jones prefers to play standing up. His presence invites the audience to share in what he's doing, since they can readily see what's happening. Wesley and Blythe used clip-on microphones so that they could move about freely. The trombonist, in particular, moved right and left with the flow of the music and seemed to feed from that to inspire the audience. Wesley was one of the vital sparks all night long. He and Jones traded melodic segments on "Ain't No Sunshine" with true lyrical sentiment. Seamless ballad phrasing was passed from one to the other. The song represented the evening's high point, as each artist had his deepest solo and the ensemble activity focused on melody. Late at night, Hollywood Boulevard is filled with people who want to be different. Similarly, Hollywood's Knitting Factory offers Angelenos something different. Both the main performance space and the alternate lounge feature an eclectic lineup. October's calendar features known performers such as Dave Douglas, Hadda Brooks, Butthole Surfers and Soul Manifesto; as well as lesser known entities such as Goldie's Yiddish Orchestra, The Snakes, Orange County Klezmers, and Hour Mary. There's something here for almost everyone – as long as your ears are open and you like good music.