JaRon Eames is gaining a degree of recognition lately among the late-night TV crowd on the island known as Manhattan. That's because his jazz interview show, The JaRon Eames Show, is televised on community Channel 34. Featuring interviews with legends like Oscar Peterson, Nancy Wilson, Jimmy Scott and Randy Weston, the real star of the show is Eames himself. With unflagging curiosity, he probes his guests for nuggets of information, and surprisingly, they provide such nuggets! The most interesting feature of the show, as one studies the faces of his famous guests, is their ease in talking to him.
Since his profile is rising, it may be useful to review Eames last CD from 1996, Sounds Good To Me! The revelation of the CD is the fact that the style of Eames seems to arise from the influences of the vocalists he invites onto his show. Indeed, by referring to the well-known styles of Jimmy Scott, Nancy Wilson or Dakota Staton, Eames has developed his own niche as a get-out-of-your-seat-and-dance practitioner of a style that blends R&B with jazz. That's why Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come" fits in with the repertoire of the remaining tunes like "Save Your Love For Me" or "Them There Eyes."
Infusing a bluesy feel into all of the tunes, no matter how he approaches them, Eames can go from the blues shouter on "Stormy Monday" to the rapid-fire articulation and scat of "Them There Eyes." Even in the midst of the machine-gunning of words, Eames twists the phrasing to swoop or dip or prod so that the performance becomes an energetic elucidation of the theme instead of a technical exercise.
Eames combines his good nature with musical story-telling on Louis Jordan's "Pettin' And Pokin'," wherein he rediscovers the timeless ability of Jordan's jump to entertain listeners with wordplay and infectious arrangements. "Shake Rattle & Roll" bypasses the rock-n-roll evolution of the tune to remind the listener of the tune's roots in the blues, akin to the realization of the true meaning of the words to "Ain't Nothin' But A Hound Dog," as sung by Big Mama Thornton. Similarly, "Route 66" follows seamlessly from the slow Memphis blues feel of "Stormy Monday" rather than taking the finger-snapping route that the song has assumed over the years.
"Doggin' Around," which has become Eames' de facto theme song, encapsulates the strengths of his music: blues from an R&B perspective that merges with jazz, the barroom type of singing that draws in the listeners and excites the crowds, the use of his voice to emphasize the dramatic essence of a tune (in this case, the crying elongation of the significant word following "Stop!"), the compelling narrative, and a universal theme (such as cheating).
As jokingly serious musicians like Louis Jordan, irresistible jazz/R&B singers like Jimmy Scott, the compelling blues shouters like Big Joe Turner or master jazz vocalists like Joe Williams have passed on, we are fortunate that committed entertainers like JaRon Eames are carrying on the tradition.
Track Listing: Doggin' Around, Save Your Love For Me, Shake Rattle & Roll, The Song Is You, I Want A Little Girl, My One And Only Love, Pettin' And Pokin', Stormy Monday/Route 66, Guilty, Them There Eyes, A Change Is Gonna Come
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.