Front Row, Center by Lynn, September 16th, 7-10 PM, La Costa Bluefire Grill, Carlsbad, CA
Front Row, Center by Lynn
Thursday, September 16, 2010
KIFM event with Blake Aaron’s Band
La Costa Resort, Blue Fire Grill
Guitar: Blake Aaron
Keyboard & Vocals: Burt Brion
Saxophone: Brad Rambur
Bass: Nathan Brown
Drums: Richard Sellers
Thankfully, I knew better than to miss this sound check! After a brief hello and a few hugs, the guys fired it up.
“So, on the intro, it’ll be eight bars. It’s just an eight-bar solo. Third time after the solo, ba, da, dum.”
Bassist Nathan Brown~
“So, after the solo we’re not goin’ back to that?”
“First four bars will be an open band and just say ‘hi’. Let’s see. It’s pretty much as written.” They chatted about Bumpin’ on the Wes’ Side then clapped out some rhythms. “Get the grove, then get into the beat. Make sure we end in ‘G’. This is a total energy gig. So, don’t feel like you gotta hold back!” Drummer Richard Sellers wheeled in his equipment.
“What’s goin’ on, my brotha’?” Some of the guys started to disburse. “Don’t go away too far, it doesn’t take me long to set up. I just use a snare and a kick drum.” Blake was pickin’ at a few strings while Burt snagged some licks on the keys. Sellers set up his drums.
“That’s all folks, unless you want timbales. I like that groove, like Eddie Harris. If you want I can put on a kick drum.”
“Burt, you got a spare mic?”
“I got a fifty-seven, you need stand too?”
“You guys ready to hit it? Ready to do it?”
“We need some sound.”
Drummer Richard started the rhythm, Brad hit the sax and it was game on. I looked over and thought I recognized a familiar face. Low and behold, it was Evan Marks from the group Fattburger grabbing an earful of music on his break from a solo spa gig he was playing on the hotel grounds.
“One, two, three! Cool, so that’ll go right into Rumblefish.”
The guys started kickin’ out some music, good vibe with great cohesion. I knew it was gonna be a great night.
“At the gig the solos will go a lot longer so there won’t be any open holes. So, in the interest of rehearsal…”
They played Everything Must Change. When it came to Baby Likes the Blues, Blake turned to Brad.
“This will be a nice one for us to go back-and-forth on.”
I caught a bit of stray banter;
“That’s ‘B’, right?”
“You just want me to start with it?”
“Let’s just take the very-end vamp and I’ll even it out.”
Okay, fasten your ‘summer’s-over’ seatbelts and get ready for a jazzy night at La Costa Resort and Spa, Blue Fire Grill! The crowd started filling in, then grew, grew and grew. It was suddenly, hit-it-boys time!
Blake addressed the eager jazz lovers~
“You guys are checkin’ out the sound check here, so stay and hang out with us.” He talked about the KIFM event, mentioned the giveaways, food and his appreciation for the airtime they give his music.
Mike Vasquez (Program Director, KIFM/morning show host)~
“Alright, how’s everybody doing tonight? I’m Mike V from KIFM, smooth jazz radio.” He elaborated on the food, prizes and events. “We’ve got a very special guy here tonight, a national recording artist, Blake Aaron! Burt Brion and his band are here to warm things up and get it goin’!”
Keyboardist Burt Brion~
“One, two, three, four!”
Burt immediately became a shining star beneath a moon that was half. Wow! His animated fingers danced across the keyboard while Brad’s crisp-as-an-apple horn lit up the entire open-air patio. Sunglass-clad cool cat Brion looked on while Richard made the drums come alive. Burt pointed to sax man Brad. And what a solo it was from Rambur! Bassist Nate lassoed the group, rounding their jazzy knot perfectly. The song was a work of art as was his brand-new Carvin SB5000.
“That was a song off my Say the Word CD called Sunrise Serenade. It gives me great pleasure to introduce smooth jazz recording artist, Mr. Blake Aaron!”
“How you guys doin’ tonight? Oh, com’on, you can do better than that! How you guys doin’ tonight?”
From there, guitarist-extraordinaire Blake Aaron ripped into the strings like a madman. Stage chemistry was spot on as the band synced a fully-engaged audience straight to the zone.
“Thanks, you guys! This next one is a song they play on KIFM called Rumblefish.”
Blake immediately took this one center stage and began reinventing guitar playing. Wow moments spun circles while Aaron tore it up. Saxophonist Rambur was swayin’ with the side-to-side while bassist Brown did the Nate shuffle. The passion of Blake’s indescribable twang blanketed the venue. Aaron fenced music back and forth with sax man Brad as if they were in a swordfight. Blake inched to center stage, then worked both sides of the edge. Guided by the Nate-Richard steady thump, Burt’s electric fingers gifted a buttery keyboard glide. Nate honed his cool cat-vibe while Richard’s dreadlocks swayed to the beat.
“Can I get a hand for Mr. Burt Brion, Mr. Clean?!”
Moonlight drenched guitar-toting Aaron’s silhouette as he weaved through an audience of oohs and ahs. Crowd-pleasing Aaron lingered his way through a trail of audience smiles and returned to the stage. Suddenly, Blake, Brad and Nathan became a jazz triangle before the bellowing crowd.
“Thanks you guys! Here’s under-age Burt Brion and straight from GQ Magazine, Brad Rambur!”
“Are you making fun of my haircut?!”
Blake quickly disguised a bassist name snafu, cleverly retrieved and used it as comedic material~
“Here’s the funkiest drummer in San Diego, Richard Sellers!” He turned to the audience. “How many of you guys have been at the Gas Lamp? Here’s a song I’ve played down there quite a few times. It’s called Bumpin’ on the Wes’ Side.”
The band thwacked it and led into Brad’s full-bodied, crouched down, give-it-up solo. Rambur blew it out! Blake erupted center stage and displayed mindboggling finger work that drew us into the band’s magnetic jazz force. What a vibe! Nate’s steady bass beat had Brown shuffling his way into a Nate-Rambur volley that ended in a jazzy standoff laced with audience approval. The band quieted themselves for a chilled lead in to Blake’s spectacular finale. Pin-drop silence took hold.
“Ah, thanks, you guys! Thanks, so much! We’re gonna do somethin’ a little funky for you. This one’s called Mercy Mercy.”
Guided by the deep hollow of bassist Brown and head-shakin’ rhythm of Richard Sellers, Brad Rambur revealed his chops. Brion’s keys took nostalgia to a new level, twisted it and turned it inside out.
“Once again, let me correct myself, here’s one of the funkiest bass players around, Mr. Nate Brown!”
Nate nailed his thumpin’, bumpin’ journey home to mama with jazzy Richard’s stellar drumbeat snapping through the ocean breeze.
“Hey, Nate Brown!”
From there, Aaron took his zone to string euphoria. The entire audience was awestruck. The incredible beat and subtle hip sway worked the crowd into a smooth-jazz frenzy. He work, work and worked it again, adding intensity to each moment. Audience members ruffled a clap. Blake was keeping foot pedal time when the power of the bass arched Nate’s back like a medieval crossbow. Edgy Blake’s deep dig prompted a passionate bunny hop. Guitarist Blake Aaron and drummer Richard Sellers dished up a superstar finale.
“Thanks, you guys! Once again, Brad Rambur on Saxophone! I want you guys to know these guys are all San Diego locals! We’re gonna slow it down and get a little romantic for a Quincy Jones song. It’s called Everything Must Change. Blake squeezed his eyes closed and took the heart of each audience member into his. The resonating pierce of his guitar hit us soul deep. A triple-wow finale left the crowd hooting and hollering for more.
“Thanks, you guys! Oh, man, I’m breathin’ hard after that one! We’re gonna do something kind bluesy for ya featuring Brad Rambur! If you guys like the blues this is a get-off-your-chairs-and-party kinda blues!” Blake described this one to a tee! Chair dancing ran rampant. This cut grabbed my clipboard and asked me to dance. In the interest of the writing gig, I limited it to the chair. Saxy Brad slipped out of the corner pocket with his tenor sax, tempting my antsy dancin’ shoes. Rodney suddenly became a drum manic! Warrior Burt was kickin’ the keys while bass champion Nate held his end of the steady thump. Brad blew like a mad dog and when it was all said and done, quite simply owned the tune.
“Once again, Brad Rambur!”
The audience clamored approval for sax machine Rambur as Blake claimed center-stage and continued their blues fest. Aaron started bunny hoppin’ again. Nathan’s bass-kissed Cheshire grin was pinned between trillin’ magician Brad and Blake’s string mania. Burt’s off-the-hook keys were swingin’ it side stage. The jam ended with a flurry of Brad’s high-pitched squealing sax toe-to-toe with Blake’s spectacular guitar prowess. What a battle! Richard drums were on fire.
“I think he can go higher! What do you think?!” Brad continued and the two clowned around until the entire audience was in stitches. Aaron reintroduced the band.
“You guys wanna hear one more on this set? Com’on, you can do better than that!” He talked up the event and upcoming giveaways. “In the meantime, we’ve got a real funky tune called Keepin’ it Real. One, two, three!” The guys went bonkers.
“Well, you haven’t heard much from this guy yet and he’s one of the funkiest drummers in San Diego, Richard Sellers!”
Sellers took the drums into orbit. Wow, Blake was not kidding. Richard reinvented drumming before our eyes.
“Richard Sellers on drums!”
Blake took his guitar genius to center stage while Brad did the side-to-side sway. Glowing Nathan cradled his shiny, new Carvin SB5000 as if it were his first born. Burt slipped down his shades and laid it out. That was one hell of a ‘piano lesson’ from Mr. Burt Brion! Wow!
“Burt Brion! Thank you all so much. I have CD’s for sale and I’ll be signing them. Stick around for some prizes and we’ll see you in a few!”
Thanks guys for an incredible night of music! And this was only the first set! The remainder of the night was amazing and I’m honored to have the opportunity to let it live on via pen.
© September 2010 Lynn M. Olson ALL RIGHTS RESERVED https://lynnjazz.wordpress.com/