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Times Square Ball Drop? Who Needs It? Cookin' at the Jazz Bakery on New Year's Eve.

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Kenny Burrell, James Moody, Benny Green, Clayton Cameron, Trevor Ware
New Year's Eve Jazz Celebration
The Jazz Bakery
Los Angeles, California
December 31, 2008

Kenny Burrell, James Moody, Benny Green, Clayton Cameron, and Trevor Ware sparked a jazz-infused fireworks display bringing in 2009. Thousands may have watched with festive flair in temperatures of 4 degrees while the famous ball descended in Times Square, New York, but in Los Angeles on a foggy and cold New Year's Eve we had our very own innovative entry into 2009.

The Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles, California presented a celebration which captured and warmed a sold- out crowd on the final night of 2008 with the magic of music, camaraderie, celebration, champagne, tasty hors d'oeuvres, soul connection, and unlimited elation. The breath-taking and illustrious guitarist Kenny Burrell was on hand with four extraordinary fellow artists giving an exhilarating performance to usher in 2009.

The legendary, still phenomenal James Moody was on tenor saxophone, with an uplifting Benny Green on piano, a soul-stirring Clayton Cameron on drums, and the resounding Trevor Ware on bass. They began the channel leading us out of 2008 with a piece called "Building a Blues Monument." We experienced jazz at its best as each musician showcased his individual chops in solos that, in each instances, were small masterpieces, complexity dusted with a tantalizing tranquility. It was both exciting and soothing to behold.

Duke Ellington's "In a Mellow Tone" and "Satin Doll" were done with distinction and no doubt would have brought a smile and nod to the Maestro's face had he been present that evening. Burrell's magic on his instrument placed the audience under his spell, while Trevor Ware on bass, with his intuitive spiritual style, kept us in the shimmering moment.

A personal favorite, John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie's "Night in Tunisia," swung with a Latin groove that made it hard to sit still. Finally, the tune was brought to a mesmerizing stop by a fervent drum solo from Clayton that made us all forget the hardships of 2008 as each fear of the future simply bounced out the door.

A crisp and impressive exchange of "fours," a call-and-response pattern conducted between Burrell's guitar and Green's piano, expanded to include the other three members, each getting a turn to say it plain. Meanwhile, Miles Davis' "All Blues" proved true to its name as Burrell and Green had the crowd immersed in the joyous spirit of the blues.

Next, James Moody performed a vocal number—a scat-filled, jazz-hip, hip-hop howling creation of his own making. Moody swooned, crooned, pleaded, deleted, then repeated ardent, emotion-filled expressions to the audience with love wishes for Christmas and for a Happy New Year. The venerable tenorist-altoist- flutist even cut a few soulful steps to accent the rhythmic and rousing moves, as the attentive and responsive fans smiled, laughed, nodded approval, and cried, connecting with the groove.

At 12:00 A.M. "Auld Lang Syne" was performed, after which Burrell shared a heartfelt Happy New Year to all the enthusiasts. But the event was far from concluded: we were serenaded all night in perfect union with the great quintet. The music produced a devoted audience that gave 2008 a happy goodbye and welcomed a translucent and fresh 2009 with hope, health, and happiness, the swinging sounds of great jazz and blues guiding the way into an elegant and harmonious 2009.

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